By Terry Trucco
What can a hotel do about a less than perfect location? Wait it out, if you happen to be the Hotel Americano. Planted on 27th Street way out west between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, this uber-chic new boutique is smack in the middle of Chelsea’s art gallery and club scene and a short hop from Chelsea Piers’ sports facilities – an area that’s also bereft of subway stops and frequent bus service.
But in June, the popular High Line extended its elevated reach from 20th to 30nd Street. Since the Americano had the good sense to open in September, it started life as a High Line hotel, a further-uptown bookend to the hip Standard hotel near the High Line’s start. And just like that the Hotel Americano’s almost-an-albatross location turned into an asset. (You can wave to High Line walkers from the Americano’s courtyard and gaze down at them from the roof bar.)
This small hotel has a lot of assets as we discovered on a recent tour. It’s
direct; you step straight from the street into the compact, art-strewn lobby or the café, which becomes a bar at night. It’s contemporary; the sleeked down minimal/mid-century décor is airy and attractive, though we couldn’t help wondering how the bar’s white seat cushions would fare. Visually quiet during the day the building all-but-yells Look-at-Me at night when a chimney of architectural glass blocks encasing the elevator lights up like a beacon.
In short, if a contemporary art gallery morphed into a hotel, this is how it would look. And if the Americano has its precious moments, which it does, well, so do a lot of other Chelsea addresses.
A lot of thought went into this 56 room hotel, from the sleek metal scrim that encases the exterior – and softens the light in the rooms – to the circle motif on the lounge ceiling, the gray felt placemats, even the white tiles in the unisex restroom. Typical of contemporary buildings, the luxury emanates from the materials – the lobby’s buttery leather sofas, the restaurant’s marble tabletops and chandeliers that look like baroque birdcages, all devised by designer Arnaud Montigny, best known for Paris’s Colette boutique.
Rooms, available in three sizes, are striking but small. The smallest — really small at a mere 220 square feet – looked like a clever Tokyo-inflected nook – white walls and a low bed lying on a polished wood platform extending the width of the room. A wall sprouts a flatpanel TV and a glass shelf holding an iPad and an antediluvian-looking push-button phone. The good-looking gray marble bath with a stall shower could come from an Amsterdam boutique hotel.
The suite, bigger but still not very big, featured a wood-paneled sleeping
alcove for the platform bed overlooking a wide but shallow seating area with a hip yellow chaise, a black patent leather beanbag chair and, to warm things up, a polished chrome heater suspended from the ceiling by a pole. The big gray marble bathroom featured a stall shower set against a semi-peek-a-boo wall of glass and a large soaking tub.
While stingy on size, both rooms were big on style and, in their way, wildly romantic.
Moving up, there’s a good-looking roof bar open to drop-in customers and, behind it, a private area with a small swimming pool (heated!) reserved for guests. Moving back down, the basement features two spacious bars.
As for the restaurant, situated on the ground floor behind the café/bar, we liked the layout with rows of low black-leather banquettes available to at least one diner at every table. Our Salad de Homard (Maine lobster, quinoa, avocado,
cilantro, salsa verde, crème fraiche) was enjoyable, the $17 appetizer size plenty big at lunch. And the excellent coffee cost $2, a give-away by New York hotel standards. (Chef Oliver Reginensi hails from restaurant Daniel.)
So why call a New York hotel “Americano?” This is the first north of the border property of the small Mexican boutique chain Grupo Habita. Aptly, its designer New York-based architect Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos is also Mexican. So is the manager. Arriba!
Hotel Americano, 518 West 27th Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues; 212 216-0000.