The Maritime Hotel, Chelsea, New York, NY ****

Q: What is it? A: A modernist building, previously home to the National Maritime Union, has been transformed into a hotel. A rather nice hotel. With a ginormous Asian restaurant in the basement.

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A modernist dream: Once a building for the National Maritime Union, now a very good hotel, although with queen beds only.

A modernist dream: Once a building for the National Maritime Union, now a very good hotel, although with queen beds only.

Not an airplane hangar but the Matsuri restaurant, located in the basement of the Maritime hotel where chef Tadashi Ono with crew delivers “refreshingly traditional” Japanese food.

Not an airplane hangar but the Matsuri restaurant, located in the basement of the Maritime hotel where chef Tadashi Ono with crew delivers “refreshingly traditional” Japanese food. (now replaced by Tao)

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Why is it not so well-known?
It’s definitely not as talked about as the other hotels in the area. You won’t see the A-, B- and C-listers packing the public spaces as in the neighbouring Gansevoort Hotel and the Soho House. Also, it’s two blocks off the Meatpacking District, although you’ll get to the Spice Market restaurant in less than 120 seconds. This is the Maritime Hotel. It’s in Chelsea and it’s good.

What’s up with those round windows?
It was designed in 1966 as the headquarters for the National Maritime Union. The architect Albert C. Ledner, from New Orleans created three offbeat buildings for them in the 1960s. The hotels exterior is considered a piece of unique modernist architecture. But the five-foot portholes wasn’t exactly a welcome addition to the dead-serious modernist doctrine at the time.
Later the building was converted into a home for runaway youth and then came the Chinese students. In 2001 it was sold to a group of developers. When it opened in June 2003, there were 120 guest rooms and four suites each facing west with a view of New Jersey and the Hudson river through the circular window.

Uhu, and why is it good?
Rooms are pretty small but well designed. The idea is to make it look and feel like a luxury ocean liner – so expect a lot of teak wood making the rooms a bit dark. On the ground floor you’ll find La Bottega, an Italian trattoria with the most outdoor space of any hotel in Manhattan. Downstairs the Matsuri, a Japanese/Asian restaurant which delivers some crazy sushi (yes, it’s good!). You will also have about 200 types of sake to choose from. Hooray (I’m sorry, I’ve never understood the greatness of sake).
Still it’s the level of service that makes you want to return to this place. Everybody I bumped into, from the doorman to the cleaning lady, was very friendly and seemed to be genuinely interested in taking care of you as a guest. Double thumbs up!

Note: No twin beds. Just queens.
Strange as it may sound, this may not be a hotel for everybody. Why? Because there are no twin beds in this hotel. All rooms come with a queen. But if you are a single traveller or if you find that the timing is right to snuggle up closer to your colleague… As long as you’re fine with that, go here!. This is a very well-managed hotel offering great service in a superb location. Room rates go up and down like the Nasdaq, but this place shouldn’t make your plastic cry out loud. At times, I’ve even found it relatively cheap to stay here, despite the fact that it’s still New York outside those porthole windows!


The Maritime Hotel
363 W. 16th St. at Ninth Ave.
New York, NY 10011
United States
+1-212-242-4300

Click here to book The Maritime Hotel through TabletHotels.com

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