Luggage carts repurposed into clothing racks, a daily Best-Dressed Guest contest, and bedside tables modeled after sewing stands — if this sounds like a hotel fit for Heidi Klum, that’s because it is: At New York’s style-centric Fashion 26 hotel, which opened in the Garment District in April, models can book one of the 280 rooms for a discounted rate, as can professors from the nearby Fashion Institute of Technology.
The current recession may have been tough on U.S. tourism (hotel occupancy was down almost 9 percent in 2009 — and that’s compared to the already dismal figures of 2008, according to research by Travelzoo), but in the Big Apple, business has never been better. More than 6,800 rooms are slated to come onto the market in 2010, and in the past few months at least a dozen new properties have joined the Manhattan scene.
“What’s incredible is the diversity of where these hotels are located,” says Chris Heywood of NYC & Company, the city’s tourism authority. “They’re all around the island — in Chelsea and Nolita and lower Manhattan. Finally, visitors are able to stay in lesser-known enclaves and get to know the real New York.”
Neighborhoods are indeed a good way to pick your digs, since there are so many options to choose from. Prefer the cool factor of downtown? Try the James, a Modernist property in SoHo with a permanent art collection, multilevel “urban garden” (swimming pool included), and 114 eco-friendly guest rooms with reclaimed-wood floors.
Guests can also choose their hotels by interest. Fashion 26 lures style mavens, while theater fans may opt for the stately Chatwal, near Times Square (and just steps from virtually every musical in town). A $95 million renovation converted the Lambs Club — an early 20th-century actors’ hangout designed by Stanford White — into this 88-room Empire Deco gem, which recalls Broadway’s golden era with rich oak paneling and terrazzo floors in the lobby, and vintage-luggage-inspired wardrobes in the sleeping quarters.
Plus, with most of these new hotels offering introductory rates for the first few months, there is, quite literally, no better time than the present to visit Manhattan.