The hippest luxury hotel in Manhattan’s newest neighborhood

Marathon traveling can thrill the soul and quench one’s thirst for novelty, but eventually it leaves in its wake a hunger for … (dare I say it?) … the familiar.

After spending eight months as a global nomad, I returned to Manhattan—where I’d previously lived for eight years. The only glitch was that my apartment was sublet and my worldly goods were in storage – meaning that I was for all intents and purposes “homeless.” On the plus side, I was free to stay anywhere my heart desired and play at being a tourist in the Big Apple.  Sounds like fun, but if truth be told, my heart actually craved the familiar neighborhood in which I’d lived: the financial district in lower Manhattan, or FiDi for short.

FiDi had once been strictly business; home to the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve, bustles of weekday worker bees, and, at other times, yawning concrete canyons emptied of all but the most diligent few. However, by the time I moved to the area, it had come a long way toward transforming itself into a wonderfully urban mix of businesses, apartments, condos, and the whole range of services that cater to upscale, full-time residents. The weekend ghost town had evolved into a suburb-like haven within the city—an uncongested wandering zone for young parents with strollers, or for pets steering their owners at the other end of a leash. Although FiDi still remains a calmer locale than Soho or Tribeca, it’s walking distance to both, as well as adjacent to the landscaped, art-dotted parks and running paths along Manhattan’s two rivers.

This was the “familiar” I chose to return to—leaving me with only one key question: which hotel to book?  During FiDi’s growth spurt, stellar hotels were slow to take root, but in recent years a few stars had risen. Newest and most notable was the uber-hip W Hotel Downtown, near the World Trade Center and Freedom Tower sites, and that’s where I settled-in.

The ultra-modern and startling begins at the hotel’s lobby entrance, which is actually on the 5th floor of a skyscraper.  From the elevator, guests step onto a vast, reflective black surface—like a gleaming sheet of ebony mirror—and are met with the sudden, dizzying sensation of falling into a deep, dark abyss.  (Have no fear; it really is a very solid floor.)  Once your equilibrium is restored, you’ll notice the floating white behemoth above you—an undulating, glimmering ceiling reminiscent of an alien spacecraft readying for takeoff.  Welcome to the W, where cool meets creative in the city that never sleeps.

W Downtown entrance

This architectural wonderland encompasses both the hotel reception area and an expansive social hub: The Living Room Bar and Terrace.  The Living Room functions as a relaxing lounge for coffee and computing in the morning, and a stylish spot for bespoke cocktails and appetizers in the evening. On a pretty day you’ll want to linger on the open-air terrace and enjoy commanding views of the city.  You’ll also want to sample the bar’s thick cut, homemade spicy potato chips; the best on this planet. You have been warned.

W living room bar

As darkly, sensually dramatic as the W’s 5th floor may be, the 217 guestrooms and suites are a complete visual contrast. Sprawling white Egyptian cotton-swathed beds are centerpieces, surrounded by light infusing floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook lower Manhattan from high in the clouds. My favorite room type is the Cool Corner Room, where stunning 90+ degree vistas give you a sense of even greater space than your nearly 700 sq ft. actually offers.  This is skyscraper chic in its purest form, writ large and swanky.

W corner room

For visitors torn between spending time in newly revitalized Brooklyn or in ever-changing, always-thrilling Manhattan, the good news is that you don’t have to choose. The W Downtown is ideally situated near the juncture of the two areas, with every manner of transportation just a blink away, enabling you to explore the best of both boroughs with minimal travel time. In fact, all the subway lines collect within just a few blocks of one another in this part of town, making getting around from here easier than anywhere else in the city.

This W also has everything you’ll need while within its embrace, from superb tech, to a roomy and fully-equipped gym, a state-of-the-art business center, and a top notch steak joint: The BLT Bar and Grill.  Take note, this isn’t a typical “hotel” restaurant – it’s where FiDi execs and residents gather for some of the best carnivorous grazing in the neighborhood.

All in all, the W Hotel Downtown is a sleek, luxurious microcosm of Manhattan; the perfect perch from which to gaze down upon the city, or take flight and explore.

Comments (2)

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  1. I stayed there a few weeks ago and the service was great! It’s a smaller hotel, but what they lack in space, they make up for in charm :-)

  2. Matt says:

    Now thats what I call a “modern” hotel. They invested more money in halls than the rooms. I will need to stay there next time in New York.

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