Find Sanctuary in Manhattan at The Chambers Boutique Hotel
It’s a painfully cold November night, my first ever in New York City, when I arrive at the unsuspecting entrance of The Chambers Hotel. I’ve just been charged $140 for a nauseating cab ride from JFK and can still hear the driver yelling out his window I owe him an extra 20. My hair is a swampy mess from scrambling away from the overpriced cab into the plume of steam from a street vent, and I haven’t eaten since my first layover in Phoenix.
I feel like a little mouse in the big city, staring up at the double-sized doors of the hotel wondering how I am going to survive a weekend in Manhattan all alone. The doors swing open from the inside and the jovial doorman puts my pity party to rest as he grabs my bags and ushers me inside. The cacophony of honking, hooting, and humming dims in the antechamber, then drowns completely as we move into lobby. To my left, an older couple talk intimately over coffee under a sprawling mural; before me, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace draws the eye to a mezzanine where young professionals mingle and nosh; to my right, a pair of front desk clerks welcome me in and ask about my flight.
I tell them I need a large pizza and copious amounts of wine—ASAP. They list and debate their favorite Italian spots like living Yelp reviews. Whereas a chain hotel would defer this kind of question to a concierge, the boutique staff works as a team, responding to everything I ask as if we’re old friends—and they don’t even judge me on the wine. Truly, this is the art of hospitality.
Speaking of art, the place is laden with it. There’s a mismatch of original pieces in every guestroom, a unique installation along each floor, and rotating exhibits throughout the common areas. Somehow it doesn’t come off as pretentious, probably because the exposed piping, glass elevators, and MOMA-inspired décor resonate the vibe: approachable, modern, and blithe.
The see-through elevator brings me to my own “chamber” for the weekend. Having a room here is like renting your own artist’s loft, complete with an architect’s desk, colored pencils, and a cavernous bathroom (I will always be stupefied by the magic of an open-shower design that keeps the water from flooding the bathroom). The rooms are just the right amount of space to rest and revamp between adventures, with thoughtful reminders of all the magic that’s waiting outside.
If I needed a few more minutes of sanctuary before heading out, I could grab a free coffee downstairs at sweet shop MILK and curl up in a window seat on the mezzanine with an art book from the library. I wouldn’t have to go far for a good meal either, should I want some Asian-fusion entrees at Momofuku or to meet friends for drinks at Má Pêche.
However, once rested and ready to explore, I take advantage of the Chambers’ prime real estate in Midtown. I find myself only a couple hundred feet from 5th Avenue, one block from the famous Tiffany’s, two blocks from MOMA, three blocks from the southeast corner of Central Park, and surrounded by subway stations.
The magic of a well-placed hotel is you’re a short jaunt to everything you want to see, and never far from home when your feet are ready to call it a night. Even when I amble back in at 2 a.m. the staff is eagerly asking about my night and gambling for whose Italian recommendation I ended up choosing. In the few hours since my arrival, I’ve evolved from an exhausted out-of-towner seeking solace to feeling like a regular (or maybe even a resident), coming home for the evening, passing my friends downstairs, and holing up for the night in my own artsy loft just off 5th Avenue.