Q: What is it? A: An almost iconic hotel that I’ve seen sliding down the slippery slope towards the mediocre.
The best part of this building. According to their website it’s called ”The Salon” but I never hear it being referred to as anything else than ”1st floor of the Soho Grand”. I must admit that I had more drinks here than in most New York hotels.
The not so good part about this hotel. They had numerous chances to prove themselves but they didn’t. First time here, I entered my room with the feeling ”Hmmm… they sure need to renovate this place.” Returning years later and the feeling remains. Not cool.
At least the bathroom felt clean enough to step into without the fear of being attacked by various organisms. That I’m thankful for. But hey, we’re talking about a hotel that is being positioned in the upper category! Wallpaper by cartoonist Saul Steinberg, known for his work for The New Yorker.
It was late. I resisted the urge to write a note to Management Dept. Or, in all honesty, I was just dead tired. If I hadn’t been, I’d write about the room feeling dirty; about the green bottle of cleaning liquid oddly placed behind the curtain; about how it feels walking on a carpet that hasn’t been cleaned well enough… But then I thought, heck… this is what they deliver! This is apparently what they offer a guest who is not Kanye West. Plus, I’m always bringing a silk liner for sleeping in places that are not feeling clean and… experiences like these is what I have my webpage for (please, note how this post is also tagged in the Warning-category).
Whoaa… for a first impression this isn’t bad. The funky flight of stairs leading up to the lounge and the reception. Cast iron and bottle glass. Looking as good as it did in 1996. The hotel claims that these were vital components of the neighborhood.
When Soho Grand was opened on West Broadway in 1996 it was the first hotel built in the area in a looong time and it met quite a bit of opposition. David Helpern of Helpern Architects did his best to make it blend into the surroundings. Was he successful? Like letting the space shuttle touch down in the historic district if you ask me.
This will not be a happy read. You have been warned.
First of all, I have been a faithful supporter of this hotel’s public spaces since the day it opened. I’ve spent numerous afternoons in the lounge on the 1st floor and enjoyed it. And not just a little. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I woke up several times with a decent headache the day after. Staying here as a hotel guest is a different kind of experience… yaa, different. After my first visit I wasn’t too impressed. It was ”…like staying in a cheap motel in Arizona”. It hurts to say, but they didn’t use these years to improve the experience. Seems like the whole project team that would oversee renovations went out for the same drinks that I had, never to return.
I suppose we have all been visiting this elderly relative…
…the mandatory weird aunt, who despite wearing strong glasses is unable to keep her home tidy. As soon as you enter that person’s home you’ll first feel sorry for her and then the feel the urge to take a shower. I had a similar feeling keeping my shoes on for a long time while trying to figure the room out. Taking them off would mean exposing myself to the not-so-clean carpet. It’s a weird feeling. I’m in a room in a building that labels itself a Luxury Boutique Hotel and I’m paying for this? Any weird aunt will be 80+ y o but… at the time of writing this, the Soho Grand is only 18 years old.
A wallpaper by Saul Steinberg is the best feature of the room.
It’s not the interior designer’s fault. William Sofield did an excellent job with the public spaces and although rooms are much less impressive, it’s not the architect’s job to keep them clean. ”Sofield employed rich materials and textures in palettes of chocolate, champagne, and taupe” the website trumpets. For someone who didn’t read the website before checking in, colors feel rather outdated and old. But housekeeping and the attitude of the staff are problems that need to be addressed before bringing in paint and brushes. Front desk was not there. Even the doorman felt like having a bad day. Odd. Very.
What is it? A strong brand?
How much is in a name? Or the fact that both episodes of the Sopranos and Sex and the City have been shot here? Or the fact that the location is quite stellar. Or is it the cast iron stairs? It can’t be this review. I give the Soho Grand one (1) star for their delivery (or lack thereof) and one (1) extra star for the public spaces. What to do with the rest? I’m thinking a Las Vega-type of demolishing. If now is not the perfect time for a complete make-over, then I don’t know when it will be. Just applying make-up on this grand old dame won’t do her much good. It’s like applying cosmetics on your weird old aunt. If it would work? Just take a look at your aunt. You may like her, but she sure isn’t pretty.
A promise to the world: I’ll check out one of their suites, which apparently are of a younger date than most of their guestrooms. It may be a kamikaze mission but someone has to do it.
Soho Grand Hotel
310 West Broadway (at Grand Street)
New York, NY 10013