Located between Chelsea and the Meatpacking District on the West side of Manhattan in what was once the National Maritime Union headquarters, a building sticks out with a unique design – like a cruise ship sitting amongst the concrete waters of New York City. This is the home of the not-so-inconspicuous, hip boutique hotel Dream Downtown. Not too long ago, I had the chance to enjoy a night in one of the most architecturally original hotels in New York City. Read on to find out more…
It’s a deceptively large hotel, with 314 guest rooms. In typical New York Fashion, this is made possible by fairly small standard rooms (though larger rooms are of course available for those willing to pay for the space!) – though the impressive design fits everything you need (and more) comfortably into the space. And this design is something that hits you from the moment you walk into the hotel, with a glass bottom pool sitting over the lobby, as an artwork featuring the American flag shimmers on the wall.
I’m told the design is inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory, which was also known as the the Silver Factory – which makes a lot of sense. I was staying in a silver king room, with “silver” being the key word. The shiny-ness of the room is hard to ignore as you walk in, much as they say it was in Warhol’s original factory. The 40″ Samsung TV is already playing, welcoming you with some high tempo music that plays from both the TV and through into the bathroom. Controls in the bathroom give you the ability to bring in as much or as little sound while you’re using the facilities as you’d like! Shower karaoke anyone? With iPod and Computer connectivity, you have complete control over what you’re listening too, too – and there are an incredible amount of TV channels to choose from.
The bed is a very comfortable one, with a plush pillow top mattress helping to make the idea of rest a very attractive one. But this is New York! They call it the city that never sleeps for a reason. If all goes to plan, you won’t be spending much time at all in that bed. But once you leave, you’ll wish you had more time to spend there. There’s also a comfortable desk area which gives you a space to take advantage of the hi-speed complimentary hi-speed wireless (or wired) internet available in every room. Not far away is a fully stocked bar with mini-fridge and some comfortable (“ultra plush”!) robes that you’ve got to enjoy regularly in your brief (or lengthy) stay.
With my hotel room on the fifth floor, our partial skyline views through the unique circular windows made you feel a part of the action of Manhattan, but still far enough away from the madness of places like Times Square to enjoy your little piece of relaxation. The porthole windows are a part of the building’s original design, when it was the National Maritime Union headquarters in the 1960s, and it’s impressive to see them embraced in a way that shapes the entire hotel.
Beyond the hotel itself, this is an area rich with nightlife and activities through the day. As you’re on the West side of Manhattan, you’re in an area a bit more neglected than most when it comes to transit, but it’s only a few blocks away from the nearest Metro station all the same. The Chelsea Market is just minutes walk away, as is the famous high line walk – a converted train line that has become a world class example of a renewable space. The walk is full of amazing art, gardens, water features, incredible views of Manhattan (even something of an ampitheatre to watch the cars go by) and places to shop and get yourself a meal or a beer! There really is no place like it and the Dream Downtown puts it all within easy reach.
The building’s unique architecture has led to some innovative and impressive design. Here’s the walkway heading up to their “downtown oasis” in The Beach. Note the attention to detail that surrounds it.
If you’re in the mood for some nightlife, the hotel itself has some great offerings. The PH-D on the rooftop seems to be the hippest of the spots (and guests are warned to arrive early as it’s a bit of a VIP affair), though The Electric Room, which you’ll essentially find in the basement, was much more up my alley and had a fantastic vibe. But honestly, it doesn’t get better than hanging around the pool area, in what they call “The Beach”, a 5,000 sq ft “downtown oasis” that serves up food and drinks along DJ beats in an atmosphere that is something of the antithesis of the New York Experience: it’s relaxing. But it’s something that comes very welcome (especially after a long day walking in the sun on the nearby High Line). Not a hotel guest? Find out how you can access The Beach here: http://dreambeach.club/
If we’re going to be honest, the best places to walk around at night and bar hop is over in either the East Village or in Williamsburg, but it totally depends what you’re in the mood for – and the area is full of plenty of gems. Few come better than the Sleep No More at The McKittrick Hotel, which is located 11 streets to the North on 27th. It’s not a long walk and we couldn’t recommend that experience enough. There’s also an incredible bar on the rooftop (The Gallow Green), which may be one of our favourite spots in the whole city. This Time Out Article is a great one if you’re looking for some hot spots in Chelsea. We will recommend one other place, however – you have to have a taste of the famous Artichoke pizza at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, just a couple of blocks away on 14th St. The hotel features some fantastic restaurants, too = just make sure to get a booking in early! Staying only one night we weren’t able to fit in a taste.
Leaning on a history and tradition of creativity in New York City, while embracing the unique design of the building – including those impressive porthole windows – the Dream Hotel will give you a one-of-a-kind experience, designed for the active traveller who’s ready for a night out, an afternoon by the pool and a sleep (however brief it may be) in a truly comfortable bed.
The Dream Downtown is is located at 355 W 16th St, New York. Rates start from US$245 plus tax. Some rooms are pet friendly. For bookings and more details about the hotel, head here: http://www.dreamhotels.com/downtown/default-en.html. The author stayed as a guest of the hotel.