The High Line Hotel, new kid on the block of New York boutique hotels, is not your cookie-cutter-design tourist hotel. Entering the lobby is like stepping back in time. It is easy to imagine yourself in earlier times when wide-open spaces, horse-drawn carriages and much less hustle and bustle characterized the area. The historic building housing the hotel in the heart of Chelsea feels like an urban sanctuary, but with the advantage of modern amenities.
Situated on land once owned by the Reverend Benjamin Moore and later inherited by Clement Clark Moore, the vast country estate stretched from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. Benjamin named it “Chelsea” after the London hospital for veterans of war. Famous for its apple orchards, it is said that New York’s “Big Apple” nickname comes from Benjamin’s famous produce.
Clement Clark, famous in his own right for authoring the Yuletide classic, “Twas the night before Christmas”, donated one of the orchards to the Episcopal diocese. And from 1817-1895 the buildings in existence today were built. Now the property is undergoing its third great transition, incorporating hospitality into its ecclesiastical use. The former seminary dormitories now form the 60-rooms of the High Line Hotel.
Superstars of the new Americana interior design style, Roman and Williams have applied their inspired method to bringing this lovely original interior to a new use and audience. Their style blends Vintage Americana with an old-world European feel. But not in a typical gut-and-decorate process. Roman and Williams take existing conditions as an anchor for their process, building on the history and qualities they find, and with a light touch, they add modern amenities to bring spaces into the 21st century. And all without losing the intangible qualities that have built up over time. Which is pretty efficient when you think about it. Recreating the ambiance of this place would not only be challenging but cost prohibitive.
The lobby is tiny but fit for its purpose, with a sparsely appointed table for check in, and a great coffee bar that offers a variety of stronger drinks starting around 5:00 pm. Even the choice of coffee beans is well considered. From Chicago based Intelligentsia, the High Line Hotel location is the first outlet for Intelligentsia in the Big Apple.
At the heart of the High Line Hotel is the old refectory of Hoffmann Hall, a 3,500 square-foot vaulted and paneled Gothic hall shared with the seminary. Here you can mingle with theology students who, I am sure will help you find your way in case you are lost, in the hotel, or in more metaphysical matters. Which reminds me: the High Line Hotel is available for weddings, and with its ecclesiastical underpinnings, it is particularly well suited for saying “I do”.
I noticed as I roamed about the hotel that a theme seemed to be at play in the choice of literature scattered about. Come to find out, a complete library was acquired in tact from an avid cold-war literature aficionado. It adds an air of mystery to the ambience. If this is one of your interests, you have hours of fascinating reading material to keep you entertained when you are not out on the town.
My favorite room is off to the right of the lobby near the VIP entrance. Its seating area with a little vintage sofa is a lovely quiet spot to hang out and relax after a busy day walking the galleries of Chelsea.
All the rooms are spacious and well appointed. Having lived in a succession of tiny New York apartments, these rooms are quite spacious in comparison. With a nod to the fresh and smart details evident throughout, you find on your desk a tool to emboss your letter and a terrarium to keep the oxygen circulating.
At the heart of the High Line Hotel is the old refectory of Hoffmann Hall, a 3,500 square-foot vaulted and paneled Gothic hall shared with the seminary.
The furniture is all vintage, collected and lovingly restored with a keen curator’s eye. The rugs are well worn and bought at auction, and there is a great collection of old paintings and drawings with an aviary theme. A great example of Roman and Williams’ ability to seamlessly mash up old and new, the 1930’s Western Electric Rotary phones are all refitted for free international calls from your room.
This is definitely the thinking tourist hotel. It lacks a restaurant, but hey, you’re in Chelsea! You have more than your share of dining spots a few steps away. And for destinations a bit further afar, use one of the bikes supplied in front of the hotel. Riding home late at night? Keep an eye out for the authentic gas streetlights and you have arrived.
Planning a visit to the High Line? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.28°clear58% humiditywind: 13mph NWH 41 • L 2650°Thu59°Fri55°Sat42°Sun42°MonWeather from Yahoo!