Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New-Look New York; It's out with the Hotel Lobby-as-Club, and in with Chic and Intimate Luxury

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New-Look New York; It's out with the Hotel Lobby-as-Club, and in with Chic and Intimate Luxury

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK REDMAN

IT IS both ironic and appropriate that New York's latest small luxury establishment, the City Club Hotel, should stare directly across West 44th Street at the archetype of Nineties lobby-as-nightclub culture: Ian Schrager's Royalton.

One is a discreet new fusion of dark Honduran wood, chocolate marble, bronze and matt limestone, all angles; the other a ghostly postmodern ballroom of linen-shrouded club chairs, Day-Glo walls and outmodedly jokeyspiky barstools. Hop between the two and you suddenly see a designhotel decade bookended - how Schrager's once cutting-edge theatricality now seems nostalgic.

By contrast, the 65-room City Club Hotel is so cleanly contemporary you could eat your fromage blanc tart with wild berries and pistachio icecream (from in-house DB Bistro Moderne) straight off its shiny, designer-cork floors. Just when you thought snotty models-as-receptionists and camp, cramped, lime and chrome bedrooms were the only way to stay, one man has come to the rescue.

"It's so disgusting to have to walk through a nightclub to check in," sniffs 31-year-old, first-time hotelier Jeff Klein, confidant of Park Avenue socialites. "A lobby needs to be a discreet experience: you're not checking people in, you're receiving them."

Klein's City Club Hotel, which opens its subtly chic doors this month overshadowed by Dorothy Parker's neighbouring Algonquin, is quintessentially anti-lobby, with everything that implies: no

reception-as-social-watering-hole, no red ropes, no rude staff (Klein interviewed 800 potentials for seven jobs) and no flimsy fashion interiors.

Behind the slabby limestone, barely logo'd CCH facade is the definitive millennial, small luxury (not boutique) hotel. "Boutique has all the connotations of a trendy, Ninetiestype property," shudders Klein. …

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