Q: What is it? A: A scene. A lively place. It’s pretty untz-untz-untz, especially when you arrive during the New York Pride Festival. It’s also a pretty well-designed hotel but it’s not exactly a clockwork operation…
A lot of porthole windows on this block, right? For this, let’s send a thankful thought to architect Albert Ledner, who designed the building for the National Maritime Union of America (today known as the Maritime Hotel). He later created an annex to the aforementioned building, which in turn was converted into the Dream Downtown by Handel Architects and opened as such in June 2011.
Indian artist Anish Kapoor is the guy behind the etchings on the lobby wall. Listen, modern art-buffs – these are from his ”Shadow” portfolio (2007-2011). Kapoor is probably most well-known for the sculpture ”Cloud Gate” in Chicago’s Millenium Park.
Rooms are of decent size for being New York. Which means that they’re not minimal. Three are 316 of them in the building. And then there are those porthole windows, which is a design feature inherited from the Maritime Union building. Frank Fusaro, AIA, a partner at Handel Architects was both lead architect and interior designer.
Warning! Comfy bed with lethal corners for you to hurt yourself on. The room is also scoring extra bonus points for letting the circular decoration theme make its way even into headboard and the little bedside tables.
The bathroom wasn’t exactly designed for privacy as the glass door featured a porthole-shaped hole perfectly positioned to enable you to see what your room-mate is using the toilet for. Apart from that, it was fairly functional. Not something you’d take for granted these days.
Art made from 2600 imported Mexican beer cans, The Beer Wall is a collaboration between Patrick Marando and Serge Becker. Fun fact: The beer cans are still full of beer. More specifically full of Corona, Modelo and Tecate. Don’t try anything fishy if you’re feeling thirsty, they are also glued to the wall.
Arriving during New York Pride means that you’re in for a party.
It’s one of the more interesting elevator rides I’ve taken. Bouncers outside the elevators. Bouncers inside. And dancing people packed inside. I was the odd guy with a big case. The rest being mostly well-toned young men and women going to the Ph-D Rooftop Lounge. Spirits were up, to say the least. I stumbled off on the 10th floor, actually thinking that I’d be missing a wild party. The low bass frequencies were traveling through the building for hours but… what the heck. I knew that the hotel would be hosting parties during Pride and that was that.
It’s quite an unlikely location…
I guess only a guy from an Indian family, born in Ethiopia, investing in New York hotels could dream up this thing. It’s a modernist offspring of the National Maritime Union building and after a $230 million transformation into a giant cheese grater it opened for business in 2011. The founder, Vikram Chatwal, is known for banging Lindsey Lohan, have a history with several supermodels and flew in Bill Clinton and P Diddy to his wedding in 2006. These facts should not affect how this hotel is run, but in some twisted way they do. There’s something wild and loose over the Dream Downtown. Don’t let this put you off, though. Just don’t expect a library-like tranquil place where silence is honored.
It’s always great to be greeted.
The doormen are doing their thing with flair and style. Very lovable people. Front desk wasn’t as welcoming. That’s a Moment of Truth for any hotel. I guess it could partly be explained by the crazy party going on, but it’s front desk’s job to be able to distinguish between a guest and a coked up partygoer (for the record; I was NOT wearing a rainbow-colored wig, nor was I exposing much skin, I arrived directly from the office). Front desk showed more social competence on check-out but at that time, dear hoteliers, it’s way too late! The staff at Melvin’s Juice Box really tried their best but struggled when too many guests (three) arrived at the same time at breakfast.
I am happy to stay here again.
Guests at the Dream Downtown should arrive with modest expectations on what level of service they will get. This is one of the places that tries to be modern and buzzy and remain a hotspot in the huge bowl of mixed goodies they call the Meatpacking District. The pool is a fun feature, especially the fact that you can watch the swimmers through circular windows in the lobby bar. The art is a fun feature, especially the exhibition of Chris Stein photographs near the elevators – yes, the Chris Stein who co-founded Blondie and was intimate with Debbie Harry for the better part of the 80s. The audience is a fun feature, especially during Pride. The hotel is a fun feature. Not perfect, as you have probably already figured, but fun.
355 W 16th St
New York, NY 10011, USA