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Volume 79, Number 8 | July 29 - August 4, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


The Meat Market
A special Villager supplement

Villager photos by Elisabeth Robert

The new Standard Hotel rises above the High Line on Washington St.

Hotel straddles cutting-edge design, affordability

By Lincoln Anderson

A towering new presence in the Meat Market on Washington St., spanning the newly opened High Line, the Standard Hotel has ratcheted up the district’s glitz factor to new heights. Yet, for all its sleek design and glamour, the hotel is all about “affordability,” according to a spokesperson.

Developed by Andre Balazs, the Standard Hotel is 20 stories tall, with 337 rooms. Its rooms are slightly smaller — at 200 to 400 square feet — compared to those of the nearby Hotel Gansevoort; yet they all feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, offering spectacular views.

The Standard Hotel chain’s name is actually ironic, since Balazs’s whole concept is for the hotels to be nonstandard — different from the norm. This is the first hotel Balazs has built from the ground up, as opposed to a renovation of an existing building.

For starters, the hotel sits on massive concrete stilts 36 feet above the High Line. That clearance above the former elevated railway was required under the federal Rails to Trails program in order to preserve the railway’s right of way, even though the structure recently opened as a celebrated new landscaped park.

Rates range from $495 for a room with views in three directions to $395 and $195. The Standard’s suites feature unusual touches, such as, in one case, a free-standing bathtub not separated by a wall from the bedroom. Another room boasts a shower the size of a small studio apartment with a floor-to-ceiling, no-tint window with a view of the Empire State Building; drawing the curtain closed while showering is strictly optional. Emblematic of “smart design,” tables in the rooms have an adjustable hydraulic lift so they can be positioned at the perfect height. The rooms all have wooden ceilings.

The Standard’s lobby is surprisingly small. This was done intentionally to give the feeling of a boutique hotel. Another chic touch includes a TV screen-sized avant-garde video installation made up of 400 different images in the elevators.

There are plenty of eating options at the hotel, notably the Standard Grill, which has been frequently mentioned in local gossip columns for its celebrity sightings. The Standard Grill has Oyster Bar-style vaulted tile ceilings and a floor made of 480,000 pennies. A bit more casual is The Living Room, which offers an indoor and outdoor space. An open-air beer garden located on Little W. 12th St. underneath the High Line is set to open in September; currently, there are tables and seating located in this space — which is open to the public — and sometimes ping pong tables, on one of which Jay-Z and Beyoncé recently played a match.

Clockwise from above left, the Standard Grill features Oyster Bar-style vaulted ceilings; a $495-a-night room offers a free-standing bathtub and sweeping views of the Hudson River, as well as north and south; the Standard’s lobby is small, giving the feeling of a boutique hotel.

The hotel’s 18th floor features a “pool bar” area, with a Jacuzzi. On the same floor is an airy cocktail lounge and restaurant that the hotel is billing as a “Windows on the World”-type space. Last week its glittering gold carpeting was still covered in a sheet of plastic to protect it before its opening. The interior is dominated by light-colored wood, and there are views of the city in two directions, north and south. Both spaces will be open to the public. The rooftop will also be an event space.

In front of the hotel, at 13th and Washington Sts., is a public plaza with Pop Art-style yellow benches.

The iconic hotel has already become a local landmark of sorts. Last Thursday, the red-blue-and-yellow Colombian “chiva” party bus pulled up and, as Latin music pumped out its windows, three of its crew got up on the bus’s roof to dance and pose for a photo in front of the Standard Hotel.

“We plan to put a restaurant around here,” one of them explained, before they hopped back on the bus and motored off.

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