27 Grand Street – Soho
We decided to try a ‘Staycation’ with all of the baloney hype around the idea. While it is definitely a gimmick to get New Yorkers to spend money in hotels that don’t do so well over the summer months, it’s actually a cool idea! The James is running a summer special 3 nights for the price of two, 4 for the price of 3 or 7 for the price of 5. The cost per night was actually less than we paid at the Inn in Cold Spring! Needless to say our 4 nights in NYC cost far more with dinners and shopping like tourists, but you see the point on the price. For the metropolitan area, a real bargain.
Forgive me in advance for all of the pictures, but really they speak for the experience far better than my words!
The James Hotel is a paradise within NYC. It is architecturally a marvel once within its walls. From the outside, it is not much more than a tall thin cement building with nice windows. Its entrance from the street is quite subtle. One enters through a sliding door which opens into a little vestibule with a lovely planter. The main area is just a little room with a desk and rental bikes. Perhaps a they’d be a bit obvious while riding around the city, but they look cool in the lobby. There is a wall on the way to the elevator bank called Qwerty Art and it is thousands and thousands of computer keys. Excellent recycling of computer parts…
A glass elevator takes you to the Lobby floor for check in. The lobby itself, two levels above the street is like a walk through ABC Home with green furnishings and lighting, a small cheese and wine bar for guests and a very modern ‘business center’ for checking out the web. It overlooks the stunning garden level, which is between street and lobby levels.
Within the garden are David Burke’s sprawling bar and restaurant, a couch seating area and several levels of hidden gardens and decks. We enjoyed finding little nooks to have our sangrias. By the way, our favorite two things about David Burke are the sangria and the lobster dumplings. More on that later…
The building itself towers above the garden with cantilevered balconies and the stunning lobby lounge of glass walls.
The entire place uses space intelligently. Nothing is overwhelmingly large, but everything is custom fit into New York scale. Our room had built-ins for the bar and closet areas, drawers under the banquette, and the most clever bathroom setup, allowing light through a screen which opened and closed electronically.
The room had a great view…a perfect Fourth of July flag…and the Queen Mary 2 was passing by when we checked in…
We spent much of our weekend at the pool. The building lines extend out over the pool area to create a dramatic effect like open windows to the sky. The focus is very upward while on this roof. The view is quite different from what we normally see, as Soho is all low rise. We could see little roof decks scattered in every direction. It’s amazing how the roof has become so important in city life. Next door, the Soho Grand had a really impressive garden where we saw the Chef every morning snipping herbs and vegetables.
The pool is open to guests from 7am-5pm daily. If you want one of the 3 lounge beds, get there at 7! Lounge chair space is limited to about 10 and there are a few chairs. Additionally, there are wood stumps of all shapes and sizes to be used as tables and seats. The ‘Jimmy’ bar opens at 12:00. There is only pool service on weekends. And, the interesting part is the public is welcome to the bar. This means the public is welcome to the pool. Hmmm. However, since the guests all arrive early they scramble for stumps and lounges. It’s all a bit uncomfortable, as the space up there is limited. It is possible to get there in the early evening and have a cocktail while dangling your feet in the pool. We did that the first evening.
Now for the service…the fourth of July was a Monday. This meant NO WAITRESS SERVICE at the pool. What a mess. Many people planned a day at the pool and we had to go line up at the bar to order, then guess when it was ready and go in to pick it up. The menu was the same as David Burke Kitchen and we ordered a few good apps. We like the ‘jars’, particularly one called Ocean, which is essentially a shrimp ceviche with cocktail sauce. Another favorite was the tuna tacos. The pizzas look much better than they are, which was a bummer.
The fireworks roof plan at Jimmy was all pre-arranged and likely the day visitors got tossed before 7 when the roof party started. Guests had to RSVP and arrive by 7 or lose your space after which time the public was able to go up through the Jimmy entrance. We opted to bag the whole scene as Morgan, our friend from Guest Services set us up with a great room for our 13th anniversary. She gave us a bottle of champagne and a 14th floor room with a direct view of the Hudson. We sat on our bed and drank champagne through the fireworks. It’s difficult to get a good fireworks pic, but they were spectacular!
We really enjoyed our weekend in paradise and are thinking about trying some other NYC hotels! I would suggest this to anyone.