Q: What is it? A: A hotel that created a name for itself even before it was finished; where the staff (as expected at any Balazs place) is considering their next audition; and where people shag in the windows.
If the hype hadn’t been that massive…
I’m pretty sure that I’d written a different review if I had arrived with zero expectations. Truth is I didn’t. When André Balazs presents something new, the world of travel and tourism will pay attention. The fourth addition to the Standard mini-empire is probably his most bold creation to date. The hotels in downtown L.A. and Miami where both clever adaptions of existing buildings. This is different. Architects Polshek Partnership created an almost brutal challenge to the Meatpacking District. 19 floors. 337 rooms. It’s straddling the High Line, the park that is being created on the former elevated freight railroad track. It’s a very smart building indeed.
Prepare yourself to feel almost welcome.
I once had a very unpleasant experience at another Standard hotel. This time I’m greeted with a smile. Good start. However, my check-in is interrupted by a loud man with a zertain very Austrian-sounding accent who loudly complains about the nightly noise from the nightclub. I decide to turn a deaf ear to this, as he obviously just wantz zome kompenzation. However, I can’t deny getting a similar feeling in this hotel as in L.A.: The staff is pretenting to be cooler than its guests. This is especially valid at the front desk and in the restaurant. The bellboys are of a different, friendlier breed, as are the almost cheerful security guards.
Rooms are small. Nice but small.
Interiors are by Hollywood set designer Shawn Hausman and the N.Y. firm of Roman and Williams. Overall, they did a good job. Rooms could have been very sterile but smart use of wooden panels and textiles turn them into almost cosy little cabins. However, after taking a shower you realise that you’ll be brushing your teeth standing in water for the duration of the stay. Also, I’m surprised to find a hotel that opened early 2009, (soft opening was on December 21, 2008), could feel so worn-out. Scratches and dents are everywhere and even the public spaces feel… jaded. Some have tried to label the design as ”a retro-future style that pays homage to Scandinavian mid-century modernism”. Balazs mentioned being inspired by both Saarinen and Arne Jacobsen in an interview but thankfully you won’t see “The Egg” chair in every corner. In this case, references are more subtle.
Should you stay here?
Sure. If you don’t mind being charged $400 a night for a tiny/cosy cabin in the 9th floor. Internet is free if you can live with slower speeds. Breakfast was not included in my deal but as long as the dollar is nice to us not from the area, why not? Also, you should keep in mind that rooms facing east may offer less privacy than you’d be comfortable with. The doorman at nearby biker bar Hogs & Heifers has spotted various sex activities in the windows: ”I’ve seen women in the classic cop ‘up against the wall’ pose, only up against the window, while their man is behind them. Lights on so all can see.” That could either help to spice up your stay – or you may request a room facing the Hudson River.
The Standard High Line
848 Washington Street, (corner West 13th St.)
New York City, NY 10014