August 13, 2007

The Gramercy Park Hotel: A Somewhat Limited Review of the Lobby and Nearby Areas

“Basically I’m a painter, and this is something that really isn’t that hard to do.” - artist Julian Schnabel, commenting on his interior design of the Gramercy Park Hotel, in The New York Times

After a pleasant stroll last Friday evening, Walking Off the Big Apple visited the Gramercy Park Hotel in the company of a learned friend. The hotel, developed by hotelier and condo-lier Ian Schrager, is celebrating its first anniversary.

Upon walking into the lobby we immediately entered an emotional state and were engulfed by it (see previous post). A state of artistic serenity washed over us as we moved about the room, encountering handsome wooden pillars, a dazzling chandelier, rich reddish rose-colored furnishings, smooth tall lamps that resembled fossil skeletons, and several paintings of enormous interest.

As the bar area, with its Jean-Michel Basquiat (product promotion) and large Schnabel (self promotion), was overwhelmed with the moneyed young, and as another party of the moneyed young, protected by tastefully dressed bouncers in black, had secured the pool room for their discreet pleasures, our experience of the hotel had to be confined to the main lobby. I was particularly disappointed by the closure of the pool room as I enjoy JS's big black Teddy Bear Picnic painting.

My friend, a master at Hogwarts, made several perspicacious comments. He noted the fineness of the large area rug, an elegant reddish rose and bone beige affair that bore a mixture of designs, both contemporary and classic. The rug pulled the colors and shapes of the various furnishings all together, and indeed without it, the room could resemble the artsiest whorehouse in Texas. The rug sits on top of a black and white checkered floor, the kind one sees in the Old Masters. My friend also noticed the effective balance of the light, a softness that made us feel like the moneyed young.

The fireplace was burning that night, and while the air had dipped into a cooler range, I would like to point out that it is still August. The smell of the burning logs provided luxury and comfort, even if my Proustian memories led me back to the smell of a hamster cage in a Texas childhood and less to the baronial banquet halls of the old world.

The surprisingly unisex bathrooms are tucked discreetly behind the lobby and accessed through a pair of arched doorways, and a sexy dining booth and table in between the bathrooms and lobby make for a potential late night passion play. My friend commented that this area invoked a Finnish sauna.

All in all, we approved of Julian Schnabel's take on the look and feel of a grand hotel, and with our work done we retreated to the hotel restaurant, Wakiya, to enjoy mango martinis and a plate of bang bang chicken.

Rooms at the Gramercy Park Hotel start at $525 a night, but the tariff includes free internet access and HBO.

Link follows:
Gramercy Park Hotel (hotel website)

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