Hotel 1 Central Park (All photos: Hotel 1)
Location: Manhattan’s chicest new green hotel is perfectly sited just a block away from the borough’s largest green space — Central Park. On the corner of 58th and Sixth Avenue, you’re also steps away from amazing shopping on Fifth Avenue, a stone’s throw from MoMA, and a 10-minute walk from Times Square. Even though you are in the center of the city, the area surprisingly feels low key, especially on the weekends when the neighboring office buildings are vacant and the streets are quieter.
First impressions: Designed by cutting-edge design firm AvroKO, 1 Hotel makes a statement even before you enter. The first three floors of the hotel’s exterior are covered with ivy and feature salvaged wood beams, floor-to-ceiling casement windows, and glam black awnings. Potted trees and plants flank two oversized steel and twig front doors. Step foot inside, and you’ll notice more salvaged wood planks lining the ceiling, sheepskin-covered chairs, and sculptural lighting in three cozy seating areas. Integrated into the cool design are plants — everywhere. Hanging in baskets, in pots, on tables, and climbing up the walls. Here, a tree stump is art. But while there are 10,000 plants in the interior spaces, the effect doesn’t feel kitschy or contrived, just beautiful.
Background: Hotelier Barry Sternlicht launched W hotels. His newest hotel brand, 1 Hotels, aims to pair eco-friendly ideas with a luxe hotel concept. “Most ideas start from an observation. Ours was a simple one: The world around us is beautiful and we want to do our best to keep it that way…. We want to make an impact by re-inventing the industry standard for socially responsible hospitality,” he states on the brand’s website. The hotel is so well-done that its appeal will extend far beyond those who check-in for the green karma points. It’s a very cool property whether you are a tree-hugger or totally oblivious to anything eco. The brand’s next hotel will open in Brooklyn in 2016.
The rooms: The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in the room, is the stunning glass- and metal-enclosed shower. While there is a curtain you can pull across if you would like some privacy, having the shower be essentially part of the room makes the overall space feel bigger and lighter. Each room also boasts a bay window that is extended a foot beyond the building’s exterior. A pillow-filled window seat offers views of Sixth Avenue and a bit of Central Park. While nothing in the room screams “eco,” if you look closer and you’ll notice the space is filled with natural materials — reclaimed-wood planks from vintage water towers, antique bricks, stone, and iron. And the familiar hotel items are reconsidered: There is a five-minute hourglass in the shower to encourage less water usage. Instead of “Do Not Disturb” signs, stones with “Not Now” or “Now” etched on them alert the housekeeping staff when you’re ready for turn down. Notepads are replaced with chalkboards.
Green perks: Ask for a toothbrush and toothpaste here and you won’t get the usual packet of Colgate. Instead, you’ll receive a lovely bamboo and natural-fiber toothbrush and NaturOwl holistic toothpowder. And it doesn’t stop with your teeth — all of the soaps and shampoos here share a green ethos. They come in larger containers (no mini bottles to take home though) and are paraben- and preservative-free. Mini bars feature coconut water and natural sodas.
Digital perks: A touch screen device is your central command station. It lets you control lighting, temperature, and the TV. You can place your room service order directly with the kitchen and text with the chef or housekeeping. Of course, there is a phone, too, but in the age of texting, it’s nice to be able to send a quick message when you need something. The device also features a host of recommendations for what to do during your stay, from hidden spaces in Central Park and jogging trails to movie theaters, museums, and favorite bars.
What I loved: The hemp Keetsa mattresses, which paired with organic cotton sheets, provide one of the most unexpectedly comfortable sleeping experiences ever. Is this the 21st-century eco version of the Heavenly Bed made famous at Sternlicht’s former hotel brand? Given that for many hotel guests it will be there first experience on a natural mattress, it may spark a new green trend.
What I Didn’t Love: The revival of chef Jonathan Waxman’s pioneering farm-to-table restaurant, Jams, has been a big draw for foodies. But ordering room service from the restaurant on a Sunday night proved challenging. The menu was extremely limited and items that were promised were unavailable 30 minutes later, making delivery extremely slow. Also, while some may love the down-to-earth concept of delivering room service in paper bags, others will miss the glamour of traditional hotel room service with food delivered on china with fancy silver covers.
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