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BY HEATHER DUBIN | The quest to find a room in Downtown Manhattan just got a whole lot easier thanks to the recent openings of the Jade Hotel and the Hyatt Union Square, along with the completion of renovations at the W New York – Union Square.
In its second month of business, the Jade Hotel, on W. 13th St. near Sixth Ave., is reminiscent of another era with its 1920s art deco style. Designed as an upscale boutique experience, the Jade has carved out a niche that is a bit of a step back in time, blending well into the area, which sits between Union Square and Greenwich Village.
A doorman stands before a flight of backlit onyx stairs that lead straight down to the lobby, where a gas fireplace flickers with a large mirror over the mantel. There are several couch and chair areas to hang out in, bookshelves to peruse, and art to view on loan from the Lower East Side gallery The Hole, which is on a six-month rotation. The front desk is virtually unnoticeable, tucked behind the stairs in a nook.
The hotel owns one piece of artwork, a large black-and-white photograph of a bird and a man that is Hitchcock-esque. It hangs over a blue velvet couch, sitting on which Philip Cham, the hotel’s general manager, spoke recently about the Jade and its “more inviting, cooler and approachable vibe.”
“Other hotels, sometimes it’s too trendy, there’s a huge DJ when you walk in,” said Cham. “If you’re here for business or to be with family, it’s not the same kind of atmosphere — it’s different.”
The building was completely redone, even down to the tin ceilings, but according to Cham, the hotel looks like its been around for a while, and fits in with the history of the Village. The 18-story hotel has 113 rooms, priced from $300 to $600 per night. There is a 24-hour fitness center, and room service, a doorman and bellman round the clock.
All rooms have a throwback rotary phone, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV, which can be hidden with an art deco covering. An old-style alarm clock radio sits on a desk with ample space for two leather chairs. Subway tiles line the bathroom, and C&O Bigelow, the famed local apothecary, supplies bath products. Staff uniforms are made by Against Nature, another local business.
Grape & Vine, an American-style restaurant at the Jade, is found past the lobby through two brick archways. Created with hotel restaurant partner Frederick Lesort, Grape & Vine’s local market-driven menu is diverse, and also includes some French-inspired offerings. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, as well as tea and brunch.
The restaurant is filled with red velvet Hollywood-style booths, plenty of tables and a long wooden bar, and is open till 2 a.m. Fred McDarrah’s photography from Chelsea’s Steven Kasher Gallery covers the walls with portraits of famous neighborhood figures like Robert De Niro and Andy Warhol, all underneath red lamps and a skylight.
Jazz bands play once a week. In the works are a walking tour and even a television channel, according to Cham. The Jade refers guests to local places, and wants to provide a true New York experience.
“We want this to be a neighborhood spot for friends and special occasions,” he said.
A few blocks east, the Hyatt Union Square, on 13th St. near Fourth Ave., officially opened on April 22. The 11-story building boasts 178 rooms, with prices ranging from $379 to $1,300. As for the hotel’s culinary offerings, the Fourth, an American Brasserie at the Hyatt, run by Jo-Ann Makovitzky and Mario Moreira, is slated to open later this spring. Botequim, South American cuisine, also a creation of the husband-and-wife team, will open late this summer. Singl, the lobby bar, is curated by master sommelier Roger Dagorn.
The W – New York Union Square, on Park Ave. South near E. 17th St., received a $15 million renovation a year ago, resulting in a sleek urban look. The hotel’s ground-floor Living Room has tons of leather couches and comfortable chairs for people-watching through long glass windows that look out onto the street.
The hotel decor is Uptown meets Downtown, and consistent throughout 273 rooms on 21 floors, with prices from $329 to $1,500. The Extreme Wow Suite is designed in black-and-white with red accents, and is cutting-edge, literally, with a “split” through the room, with different styles in rug patterns and furniture on each side. It’s a cool concept that works. A large flat-screen TV graces the room, as do spectacular views of Manhattan.
Olives, the restaurant by Todd English, features Mediterranean cuisine, and has been here since W’s beginnings in 2001. The dining room has been expanded with more seating options, such as a large communal table, banquettes and vignettes. A family table can be reserved in the marble kitchen for front-row seats as the chef creates. A new spiral staircase was also added to reach the wine room and private dining area.
The updated menu is farm-to-table from the Greenmarket, with a focus on small plates, either shared or for a single traveler. There is full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner, and patrons can also be served in the Living Room.