From $595 including Wi-Fi.
The Whitby Hotel, a property with a serious design personality, opened in February 2017 in midtown Manhattan,part of London-based Firmdale Hotels, a brand with eight properties in London and one other in New York City. Firmdale’s first New York property, Crosby Street Hotel, in Soho, opened in 2009 and is considered to be among the city’s most fashionable accommodations. The company’s co-owner and design director, Kit Kemp, has a flair for creating unique hotels, and the Whitby, too, is a place with serious design personality: each of the 86 rooms is individually decorated, and original art by contemporary artists from around the world adorns both guest rooms and public spaces.
The Whitby is on 56th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Trump Tower, a popular tourist spot ever since Donald J. Trump was elected as the president, is steps away. While this may deter some overnight guests because of the crowds snapping pictures, the property’s central location is undoubtedly appealing: attractions such as Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art, top restaurants and the stores on Fifth Avenue are all within walking distance. Taxis are readily available, and several subways are within a 10-minute walk including the N, R, F and E lines.
My 350-square-foot room felt like being in a guest room in the home of a friend whose design style I admire. The colorful, contemporary space had black fabric walls, a textured pink and beige rug, a long wooden desk with an upholstered lime green chair and a small sitting area with two orange patterned chairs. And could I please buy the luxuriously comfortable king-size bed with a high headboard upholstered in orange for my bedroom at home? The nine-foot high ceilings made the room feel larger than it was, and because the property wasn’t full, the personable front desk employee had upgraded me one level upon check-in from the entry level superior category to the luxury category; the Whitby has nine categories of rooms, all with 55-inch flat screen televisions.
The Whitby’s chic but approachable design sensibility extended to the generously sized bathroom. With its black and white gleaming marble walls and floors, it was modern, but the two free-standing white ceramic sinks brought in an old-fashioned feel (there was a shower but no tub). Instead of the generic white robes common at many hogh-end hotels, the pair here had elegant blue piping, and I loved the heavenly lavender eucalyptus scent in the Rik Rak by Kit Kemp toiletries.
The Whitby Bar & Restaurant, an all-day spot that offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and cocktails; a small but well-equipped gym; a 130-seat movie theater with screenings on Sunday afternoons, open to both guests and the general public (guests can attend for free; tickets for non-guests are $15); and a small drawing room with an honesty bar where guests can pour themselves a drink and request that it be charged to their room.
The restaurant is especially lively at breakfast and during afternoon tea, available in both a traditional style with finger sandwiches and scones as well as in a healthy version with dishes such as a roasted beet and melon taco and an avocado and green chickpea crostini (the tea is a pricey $54 a person). I enjoyed a tasty and satisfying breakfast at the restaurant of house-made gluten-free granola, yogurt, mixed berries, nuts and lemonade (breakfast is $30 a person). Room service is also an option, and with rooms so stylish, ordering in is a tempting choice.
With its central location, warm service and sophisticated but homey feel, the Whitby stands out in a city where travelers are spoiled for choice when it comes to upscale accommodations.
The Whitby Hotel, 18 West 56th Street, New York Citythewhitbyhotel.com
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