Quentin Long checks in to New York’s The Walker Hotel to see what all the fuss is about.
When Ian Schrager opened Morgan’s Hotel in Manhattan in 1984 he gifted the world the boutique hotel. From that seminal moment, NYC has been the vanguard of design savvy intimate hotels with every season ushering in a new crop of chic abodes.
In spring 2013 the most lauded was The Jade Hotel (now The Walker Hotel), offering a high-end aesthetic at a luxury-for-less rate.
Beautifully positioned on the border of West and Greenwich Village, easy NY strolling distance to Bleecker Street (shopping), MacDougal Street (nightlife) and the 14th Street subway station, the most intriguing thing about The Walker is how well the newly built 113-room structure integrates into the Georgian Village façades of its neighbours on West 14th Street. It is flawless and the hotel adds a great deal to the streetscape without ostentation or gaudy dominance.
Dashing from the town car towards the lobby, the street-front glass windows and double doors give off a seductive warm glow pulling me into the lobby. The glass-domed anteroom throws any natural light down the marble staircase into the moody below-street-level lobby. The entire aesthetic of The Walker Hotel is Art Deco with a soupçon of eclecticism and boho.
The lobby is made for Manhattan; a small lounge area of plush purple and blue velvety sofas with high silver gilded ceilings. Long tubular Art Deco chandeliers throw the soft lighting onto the exposed brick. A small library is tucked into the wall while centre stage at the base of the stairwell is a faux fire crowned by a huge mirror.
I find the reception desk tucked into a dark corner behind the stairwell. I fly through check-in and arrive in my ‘Grove Queen’ room ready for a jet lag-curing rest. The Art Deco finishes are all at my fingertips. Literally.
Classics for the period include the Egyptian fan print bed head with a circular bedside lamp and ultra retro black rotary-dial Bakelite telephone. The Tivoli radio with iDock and C.O Bigelow amenities finish off the modern luxury offering. The room interior is definitely hitting its design brief.
Overall my room is on the smaller side of that lovely euphemistic hotel phrase, ‘compact’. And there is the rub. It’s just small enough to make me feel claustrophobic and drive me out of it. I love it but I can’t spend too much time in it. And with NYC outside, that’s not a big problem to have. So I dump everything and head to the hotel bar for a jet lag-curing drink instead.
The staff are efficient and effective and while it’s gorgeously appointed, The Walker Hotel has two major flaws, the rooms are small and the walls are thin – not a great combination.
Would I return? Sure, if the price was right, because it is so functionally located and well-appointed. But it is not a place to put on the bucket list.
The Walker Hotel
52 West 13th Street
Bleecker Street (shopping)
The IT Verdict
Quentin, who paid his own way and visited anonymously, says: “Great aesthetic, amenities and location plus a romantic bar and restaurant. It has great bones but make sure ask for a slightly larger room than my shoebox.”
Quentin paid $376 including taxes for a Grove Queen room