21c Museum Hotels Joins MGallery, Three New Properties on the Way

21c Durham

 

You may have noticed a curious 24-hour installation earlier this month just outside Penn Station, NYC, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels. Indeed, acclaimed muralist Aaron De La Cruz transformed a glass hotel room in the middle of packed Penn Plaza into a ‘Masterpiece Suite’ to celebrate their joining forces with Accor’s MGallery collection. The hotel groups are set to highlight their mission to “push the boundaries of both the museum and hotel worlds to create a new kind of travel experience.”

The founders of 21c, contemporary art collectors and preservationists Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, opened their first property in Louisville, KY in 2006 – with the goal of being an active part of the revitalization of the city’s downtown. Thirteen years later, they have eight properties, and can be found making the rounds of Art Basel (the one that’s actually in Basel, Switzerland) to fill out their collection with new and emerging art and artists. The brand’s Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites plans on using the pieces in their newest properties, including 21c Chicago opening late 2019, 21c St. Louis in late 2020, and 21c Des Moines in 2021.

 

21c Masterpiece Suite at Penn Plaza

 

The partnership with MGallery isn’t surprising. Among their top properties are some of the most unique and chic around the globe: Hotel Molitor Paris, INK Hotel Amsterdam, Queens Hotel Cheltenham in England, Santa Teresa Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Hotel Lindrum Melbourne in Australia, Muse Bangkok Langsuan in Thailand, and Hotel des Arts Saigon in Vietnam. All share a vision and capture the essence of “bespoke design and sensorial mixology.”

The mission remains the same for 21c, of course – engaging guests with immersive and thought provoking art. And two exhibitions we’re particularly looking forward to are: 21c Kansas City is hosting OFF-SPRING: New Generations’, themed around rituals – religious and cultural, institutional and domestic, June 2019 to April 2020; and ‘Refuge’, exploring how, why, and where people need, seek, and create shelter – at 21c Bentonville from October 2019 to September 2020.

 

21c Oklahoma City 

21c Louisville

 

 

Epicurean Nashville: Three Hotels, Two Restaurants, One Market

 

You may have heard, Nashville is hot these days – and not just because of its infamous and ubiquitous inferno hot chicken recipe.

To wit, cool new hotels have been popping up in historic buildings all over the city, with correspondingly cool restaurants. And the once ground level scene is rising up to the sky, as Music City at last catches on to the particular thrills of rooftop indulgences. The restaurants are mostly helmed by emerging chefs, whose goal it is to showcase the new wave of elevated southern fare, with a focus on local and seasonally driven produce and meats.

On our most recent visit, we hit three of the city’s most stylish boutique sleeps – and their not-just-good, but genuinely exceptional in-house dining options.

 

Holston House

A 1930’s Art Deco stunner, this is a new addition to the Unbound Collection by Hyatt. Infused with a hint of New York chic from the design team at Stonehill Taylor, it’s a bastion of elegance amidst the honky-tonk mayhem. And Executive Chef Andrew Rodriguez heads up its southern-infused restaurant TENN, which Eater included with its most recent list of essential Nashville dining hotspots.
Rodriguez incorporates ingredients from the likes of Peach Truck, Athena’s Harvest, Micro Pastures, Beaverdam Creek Farm, and 12 South Farmers Market – which is a collection of vendors – into TENN’s signature dishes and specialty cocktails. For instance, the shrimp and grits with pan sauce uses sustainable seafood and locally grown and milled corn. While an updated take on the classic seared skin on salmon paired with spring favas and pea shoots is not to be missed.

 

 

Noelle

In a town with no shortage of new openings, the 18-month-old Noelle – part of the Tribute Portfolio for Marriott – genuinely stands apart, focusing on hyperlocal experiences for adventurous souls. And the location could not be better: on the same block as the infamous/historic Printer’s Alley in Downtown Nashville. The original building is an original 1929 Art Deco structure called Noel Place; and they’ve retained the grand spaces, adding some uniquely stylish design features. A curated collection of local art is on rotation.
Rare Bird, the rooftop bar, offers modern southern classics like mint juleps with locally made Dickel 12 whiskey – plus a spicy strawberry tequila version. A caramelized onion dip with paper thin housemade chips pairs perfectly as a light bite, and gives a new life to the picnic classic; or try the shaved ham plates made with locally  sourced pork. It all comes, of course, with show-stealing view of the rapidly changing Nashville skyline.

 

 

Bode Nashville

Bode Nashville isn’t just another designer hotel. With a recent opening in Chattanooga and Palm Springs soon to open, the brand is setting out to revolutionize group travel. To wit, their concept focuses on communal traveling, with two, three and four room shared living spaces. Each has hand crafted artisan lights and fixtures from Southern Lights Electric, as well as fully outfitted chef’s kitchens – perfect for happy hour gatherings after a day of sights and culture.
The onsite café, The Hub, is a market stocked with locally made Tennessee whisky, wine and cheese, which can be enjoyed around the outdoor fire pits. They have rotating food specials like peanut butter & banana toasts for Elvis Presley’s birthday, and vegan granola and baked goods from local bakeries. With “friendscationing” on the rise, it would seem Bode is genuinely on to something.

 

 

 

NYC Staycation: Pod 39 Hotel

 

 

It’s a well-worn trope that New Yorkers, despite living in a city with 1200 neighborhoods, spend most of their time in exactly two: the home one and the work one. Ask any Upper West Sider where Bath Beach is, and be prepared for a stare as blank as a catatonic. (It’s in South Brooklyn.)

Yet venturing even a few miles from one’s home/work base can seem like an exotic journey if done right. After all, the travel zeitgeist is so much about going somewhere new and living like a local. But since we didn’t have time for ice fishing in Finland, we opted for a staycation in a neighborhood we haven’t spent all that much time in.

Since our home/work ‘hoods are Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, with the exception of that annual doctor visit, we rarely venture above 14th Street. Murray Hill may as well be Mumbai. Yet that’s where we found ourselves recently for a stay at the ever smart Pod 39 Hotel. There are a number of Pods around town and their chief selling point is good design at exceedingly approachable rates.

 

 

When it comes to style, it helps that this Pod occupies the former Allerton House Hotel, which was given Landmark distinction in 2007. The century old red brick building, which boasts terra-cotta detailing and wrought-iron light fixtures, opened in 1918 as economical housing for ‘hard working, refined, ambitious young men,’ and 40 years later the Salvation Army took it over, converting it into residences for women. The genders were finally allowed to co-mingle at 145 E. 39th Street, when the Pod people (sorry, pun intended) stepped in.

We were actually quite surprised with our room, which despite its obvious economy of scale, seemed spacious and chic. The fact that the view out the windows was of a brick walled interior space that led up to a small square of skyscraper dotted sky only accentuated the historic NYC vibe. Modern life was waiting just downstairs, however, as the lobby and adjacent restaurant, the recently opened Empellon Al Pastor, teemed with youthful energy in the evening. Groups were split between those downing tacos and margaritas, and those patient enough to wait in the long line for the rooftop bound elevator.

 

 

We settled in with a trio of new friends in a private room off the main dining area, where we watched the scene from a distance while savoring a tasty sampling of fish tempura and sweet potato tacos, broiled oysters, and lobster rangoon, all washed down with spicy cucumber margaritas. Everything was absolutely sublime (as it is in Empellon’s East Village location). Afterwards we joined the throngs at the Pod 39 Rooftop, the setting of which, with its century-old archways and columns, and 360-degree view of midtown, is really something spectacular.

Being a rooftop bar in a hip hotel, however, meant that it was packed to capacity, so we headed out for a brief walk around the comely, inviting neighborhood, stopping for a bottle of wine for the room. The knowledge that we were only a mile or two from home didn’t displace the feeling of otherness we had at being happily out of our element. Back at the Pod we did something we rarely do in Brooklyn, watched the local news on the wall mounted flat screen – because that’s what you do when you’re “out of town.”

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast in the lobby’s Playroom Lounge before heading out to join the stream of workers making their way to the office. It may have been our imaginations, but we sensed a slight inkling of newfound ambition, and refinery, in ourselves – perhaps thanks to the ghosts of the ambitious young men who once occupied the Allerton…and certainly to the rejuvenating properties of a night in a strange but stylish bed.

 

Bridgehampton Chic: ‘A Room at the Beach’ is the Hamptons’ Most Stylish New Inn

 

As the weather heats up (and it always does), the NYC cognoscenti make haste every year for the white-sand beaches and bucolic country roads of those rarefied Hamptons. But what we really love is that there is a town or village to handle our every mood.

Of course, sometimes that mood demands a quintessentially glitzy Easthampton experience. But with the particular stresses of these times, we’ve been preferring to escape to somewhere quiet, to recharge and unwind. And now there’s no place more perfect to accomplish just that than A Room at the Beach, a chic luxury boutique motel, opened last month in the picturesque hamlet of Bridgehampton (stomping grounds of the likes of Beyoncé, Kelly Ripa and Bethenny Frankel).

With only ten rooms, A Room at the Beach is an intimate destination that epitomizes the relaxed Hamptons vibes we generally tend to seek out. On our recent visit there, co-owners Lucy Swift Weber and Charles Lemonides (brother of Eric, owner of French bistro Almond in the same town) made us feel truly at home in their chic country retreat.

 

 

 

The focal point of the 1.5-acre property is a towering alley of California redwoods, planted by none other than Martha Stewart herself (daughter Alexis formerly owned the property), which instantly helped us to commune with nature and decompress. We particularly loved having breakfast at the picnic tables underneath those same trees, and then curling up in the cozy lounge chairs at night, basking in the intimate starlight glow from the string lights above.

And though the beach was only two miles away, we found it hard to leave this cosseting property – after all, what more do you really need than an outdoor pool and wicker coolers stocked with complimentary rosé?

We wouldn’t hesitate to say that this will be the place to stay this summer season out East. Here’s what you can expect.

Design & Rooms

A Room at the Beach seamlessly blends unfussy rustic chic with a keen eye for contemporary style. The ten rooms are housed in a single-story building with a cedar wood façade, and there’s a long wood patio that keeps the space fluid and communal. Guests can relax on the cozy sectionals located outside of each room, or if they prefer more privacy, can escape to their own personal backyard garden. The design-savvy spaces are distinctively curated, filled with hand-sourced antiques, flea market finds, and quirky artwork – as well as distinctly local mini-bar items sourced from L&W Market. The bathrooms feature tile from Ann Sachs and come with bluestone slab rainfall showers or spa tubs.

 

 

Amenities

For those who would consider checking in and barely leaving the property, A Room at the Beach has a sauna, massages, aromatherapy, and on-site yoga – as well as a beautiful outdoor pool, with giant rainbow floats, rosé stocked coolers, and a mini-poolside beach. But they also have traffic-beating Serena & Lily bicycles to borrow, for quick trips into town or to the actual beach.

 

 

Location

Situated between Southampton and Easthampton, one can enjoy a more laidback atmosphere while still being close to all the action. And while Bridgehampton may be small, a five-minute walk into town and we found ourselves dining at some of the best restaurants, including Jean Georges at the Topping Rose House (in our opinion, the best farm-to-table experience), and Estia’s Little Kitchen, a Hamptons mainstay known for their decadent breakfast burritos. During the day, we spent plenty of time soaking up the sun at two great beaches– Sagg Main and Mecox – only two miles from the property.

 

Statement Architecture, Frida Kahlo & Yayoi Kusama: Is Lille France’s Next Great Cultural Destination?

 

 

With music festivals now coming in at a dime for probably three dozen, contemporary art fairs and festivals have arguably become the new way for cities to show off their impeccable cultural cred. Yet Lille3000 actually started all the way back in 2004, when its namesake city was chosen as that year’s prestigious European Capital of Culture.

Now occurring as a regular triennial, 2019 was thus timed for the sixth edition – so we hopped an Air France flight to see what all the fuss was about. Especially as this year’s “themes” particularly intrigued. First, Mexico was the partner country – so many of its top artists were invited over for that spark of cross-continental vitality. Secondly, the mythical Spanish kingdom of Eldorado was employed as muse…and, well, we do love a bit of mythological inspiration.

 

 

The city itself (just an hour by TGV from the capital) had been through some tough postwar years – and as is so often the story, eventually employed cultural strategies as a method of revivification. Needless to say it worked very well, and Lille has since emerged as a galvanizing creative force (to wit, Yayoi Kusama is not only a participant in Lille3000, but her 2003 The Tulips of Shangri-La has sat proudly outside the Gare de Lille since 2004). Still and all, just strolling around the city, you wonder how such a visually beautiful place could have ever been down.

It’s important to note that it is also far enough north to be almost more Belgian than French – and its captivating mix of Flemish and Beaux Arts architecture strikingly bears that out. And like the Flemish, there is a palpable penchant for aestheticism (Lille is designated a World Design Capital for 2020), and, naturally, a tendency to drink more beer than wine.

During our visit we were admittedly very much swept up into the art happenings of Lille3000, which runs into November – though we left there adamant that at any given time, Lille can now confidently be counted amongst the A-list of French destination cities.

Here’s what we saw.

 

Euralille

The visually daring Euralille has been on the starchitect groupies’ “must lists” since opening in 1994. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, it sort of epitomizes the hope that shiny new contemporary business districts can bring to a city in search of a new way forward. It’s now a stylish mix of offices, dining options and retail – everything from Adidas to G-Star Raw – as well as housing a pair of railway stations. The complex also includes the sleek Crowne Plaza hotel, from whose windows one can admire a vista that epitomizes the juxtaposition of old and new.
But most importantly, when arriving by train, there is an immediate sense when you look up that Lille is very much a “somewhere,” a place that is helping to shape the contemporary cultural conversation. Which is surely what everyone involved had hoped for when first envisioning Euralille.

 

 

Eldorado 

The Lille3000 flagship exhibition is impressively fitted into Le Tripostal, a cavernous old post office facility now used for just such happenings. The show itself is breathtaking in its scope, and yet still very much aesthetically and intellectually cohesive. From the get, one of Yayoi Kusama’s Mirror Rooms offers a bit of the fantastical and celestial (one genuinely does get the feeling of floating in space), before the exhibit crashes back to Earth. Indeed, in Chen Zhen’s ominous Precipitous Parturition 1999 – which was once precariously suspended at the Guggenheim – a dragon gives birth to newly produced automobiles, a biting commentary on capitalism and the perpetual supply-demand-consumption cycle that holds the Western world so decisively in its grip. It’s followed by Marnie Weber’s sardonically titled Happy Go Lucky, a Boschian fantasy of demonic creatures on some unexplained metaphysical journey.

 

Marnie Weber

 

No surprise, it being France, politics and resistance are front and center. For example, Stefan Bruggemann’s Headlines + Last Lines in the Movies 2019 is a massive graffiti-on-glass installation which makes its feelings well known regarding President 45; while Lucy & Jorge Orta’s United Assemblage 2016 uses the 1977 Argentine social unrest as a metaphor for our current socio-political zeitgeist. Most striking is Anne & Patric Poirier’s Danger Zone 2001, a makeshift dwelling in a protective glass dome, representing a future ruin – poignant, to put it mildly.

 

Yayoi Kusama

 

Intenso / Mexicano

One of the key Lille3000 events, this exhibit at Le Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse boasts 48 works from the permanent collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Mexico. Included are notable pieces by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Francisco Toledo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Germán Venegas and Daniel Lezama. Yet hardly just some “best of” museum assemblage on loan, the show has a rather vivid common thread, keenly playing with the concepts of identity and nationalism – especially relevant in these days of rising right wing nationalism.
Particularly affecting are Las Soldaderas, 1926 by Orozco; The Revolution Gives Back Culture by David Alfaro Siqueiros; and a self portrait by Rosa Rolanda.

 

 

The Green Goddess

The old Saint Sauveur station building is an awe-inspiring space for just such an exhibition, which explores how the natural world can be superimposed onto the Eldorado myth – a poignant interaction between nature and culture. Especially captivating are David Gumbs’ Echo-Natures 2019, a wildly colorful, nature-referencing “tunnel” which offers a curiously calming, contemplative immersive experience; and several works by Renaud Jerez, which depict fantastical creatures with strangely ominous, robotic features. In another particularly engaging installation, several artists were asked to each design a space for an imaginary hotel, seemingly hidden in the jungle – and yes, you can “sleep” in the bed.

 

 

Additional Art Highlights

Other works that captured our imagination at Tripostal: Christopher Kullendren Thomas’ New Eelam, 2019, which presents a sort of system for life, leaving it to the viewer to decide if it is possibly real or just imagined; Qiu Zhijie’s sprawling One Has to Wander Through All the Worlds to Reach the Innermost Shrine at the End, 2015, a stupendous work of cartography, with handblown glass figures relating to different regions of the world; and several paintings by French-American artist Jules de Balencourt, which were exceptionally aesthetically captivating.
Another can’t-miss at Tripostal, New York photographer-provocateur Ryan McGinley and French painter Claire Tabouret’s group show will be on exhibit through September 8.
And at the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art, we caught a brilliantly and very intelligently executed exhibition on the exalted Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, which reminded us of his significant influence on later artists like H.R. Giger.

 

 

Epicurean Lille

With all that art so decisively stimulating our intellect, we made sure to make the occasional stop for epicurean restoration. Meert, founded in 1761, is an absolute must, one of the few most famous pastry/chocolate shops in France (they now also have three locations in Paris and one in Brussels). We cheerfully waited in line for the obligatory and very famous waffles, the city’s rightly famous take away pleasure…and as elegant a street food as you will ever enjoy. We later fell in love with Le Lion Bossu, a second floor charmer of a restaurant, hidden exquisitely away in a 17th Century building – where we dined on poelee de Saint Jacques, ris de veau and joue de boeuf braisée in a gorgeous brick-walled setting.

 

Meert

 

La Piscine Museum of Art & Industry

In the neighboring town of Roubaix, La Piscine literally began life as a very fancy indoor swimming pool in 1932 – a function which lasted all the way into the 1980s. It became a museum in 2000, and a further nine-million-Euro restoration was just unveiled in 2018.
Amazingly, the pool remains the museum’s centerpiece, dramatically lined as it is with classical statuary – and just begging for multiple Instagram opportunities. But this is very much a serious musee, counting amongst its permanent collection paintings by Ingres, Mondrian and Robert De Niro Sr., sculptures by Rodin and Camille Claudel, as well as design pieces, textiles, and even ceramics by Picasso and Chagall, amongst others.
Meert also happens to run a restaurant on site, where we lunched on French classics in original Art Deco surrounds – and with particularly lively people watching.

 

 

Villa Cavrois

Just a short drive from the center of Lille, for devout modernistas this is the new and almost imperative religious pilgrimage. Completed in 1932 by French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, this modernist masterpiece – consider it the anthesis of all the showy gaudiness of Hearst Castle – was built for Paul Cavrois, a local textile industrialist. Opened to the public in 2015, it is now starkly furnished as close to the original period as was possible. And there’s a functionalist yet also visceral beauty to the style that seems to take Adolf Loos’ famous proclamation “ornament is crime” as an unbendable manifesto.
And walking from room to room, what is astonishing is just how true it is to the principals of anti-ornamentation, as laid down by Corbusier and the Bauhaus School. And everywhere – we mean everywhere – there are terraces from which to survey the exquisitely beautiful grounds, including a tranquil reflecting pool. Perfect for moments of contemplation amidst such a universe-altering aesthetic accomplishment.

 

Stunning New Hotel Alert: The August Opens in Antwerp

 

 

Okay, we’re used to the confused stares when we state that Antwerp is our favorite European city – even many of our fellow cognoscenti seem to have missed that train. But even if we made it just about the fashion…one should know that the Flemish capital has produced some of the most exalted design talent across the last couple of generations: Anne Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Marina Yee, Raf Simons – the list goes on. Never mind that in the MoMu, it also boasts what is arguably the most intellectually engaging fashion museum in the Western Hemisphere.

It’s also a world class culture capital (the M HKA is one of Europe’s most challenging contemporary art museums), with decadent, over-the-top nightlife. And then there’s the citizenry, who are steadfastly aesthetically inclined – something which never fails to fill our hearts with joy.

And from those same aesthetic inclinations comes the breathtaking new August hotel (a member of Design Hotels), from chef Nick Bril of the equally spectacular and Michelin-starred Jane Antwerp restaurant nearby in the city’s Green Quarter.

 

 

Set in a former Augustinian cloister, the 44 rooms have retained the original convent dimensions – though we’re pretty sure the nuns weren’t pampered with a luxury spa and outdoor pool set amidst the private gardens. Similarly, the bar and lounge areas are fitted into what was once the sisters’ private chapel, so you can practically pray away your sins as you’re committing them.

It’s the first ever hotel project from exalted Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen, who insists that, “When you restore a building, you have to do it with respect. We have to consider the past as being a beautiful gift.” And so the dramatic wooden ceilings, original arched windows and patterned floor tiles restored their original splendor are all retained to striking effect. But now they come with custom Flos lighting and Molteni&C furnishings.

With Bril’s involvement, the eponymous seasonal restaurant can be expected to maintain the highest quality. But let’s face it, you’re really booking into the August for the complete immersive experience in this once sacred and still awesomely beautiful space. Prayers optional.

 

 

Lemon’s Rooftop Brings Breezy, Mediterranean Style to Brooklyn

 

 

When life gives you Lemon’s, order the Capri Son.

Indeed, the play-on-words refresher is just one of the irresistible new cocktails on offer at arguably this summer’s most buzzy NYC rooftop opening, this one atop Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel.

With, naturally, breathtaking views of Manhattan and across the ‘Burg, Lemon’s is the result of an inspired collaboration between some of New York’s hippest hospitality heavyweights. To be sure, the warm-weather haunt is the brainchild of dream team Jon Neidich (Acme, The Happiest Hour, Slowly Shirley), chefs Aidan O’Neal & Jake Leiber (Chez Ma Tante), and beverage team Jim Kearns (Acme, The Happiest Hour, Slowly Shirley) and Christine Kang (Soho House).

It’s also meticulously styled, with an easy-breezy-beautiful branding identity conjured by Swedish design duo Andrea Johansson and Claudine Eriksson. It’s their second collaboration, as they all previously worked together on Neidich’s Financial District hotspot Recreation, at the Moxy NYC Downtown Hotel.

Finding inspiration in Mediterranean filming locations (think: The Talented Mr. Ripley), the duo have cooly and elegantly brought to life a 1960s Italian Riviera vibe. The Lemon’s logo and illustrations – pencil and watercolors featuring sun umbrellas, crabs, figs, rosemary – were all hand drawn. A delightful touch in this coldly digital age.

Even the typography chosen by the team borrowed from retro storefront signage and the classic Italian soda Limonata. The collateral has all been printed on “soft, cream-yellow uncoated, textured paper for a sense of sun-bleached nostalgia,” as they tell us. And not to miss any detail, the check at Lemon’s comes with a gorgeous postcard, meant to be a sent on from your all-too-brief Williamsburg staycation.

With its channeling of a “sun-kissed-on-the-Italian shore” feel, Lemon’s conceptually plays homage to a fictional character named Senora Lemon. We learned she was an Italian widow who carried on her husband’s tradition of mixing cocktails and socializing at her house in 1960s Emilia Romagna (the Italian region just above Tuscany). Suffice it to say, her day long lunches-turned-parties were the stuff of legend, a spirit Lemon’s perfectly captures.

The music is curated by local favorites Chances with Wolves, and you’ll want to bop along as you sip on spiked lemonade and other signature house cocktails. The aforementioned Capri Son, for instance, is made with tequila, grapefruit, calamansi and honey, topped with sparkling wine. There’s also aperol spritz on tap – divine!

The Italian influence really comes through in the “aperitivo” vibe of “casually imbibing while enjoying light bites,” as Neidich puts it.

Savory snacks like salumi, raw oysters, and stracciatella with olive oil and bread will look familiar to anyone who has lazed away a summer afternoon in the caffes of Roma or Milano. Grilled calamari, sugar snap peas and tuna carpaccio on cracker crisps all play to the light-eating coastal vibe, while a selection of Italian-style toasted sandwiches will satisfy those craving heartier nibbles.

And given the rash of trendy rooftop openings, Lemon’s commendably isn’t into taking itself too seriously. They imaginatively offer guests a “picnic” option, where everything comes in lemon yellow with vintage coolers and accompanied by a snack trio. It just screams sophisticated summer fun.

But most of all, be sure not to leave without sampling their boozy popsicles, in thematic flavors like cantaloupe, limoncello and Italian citrus. And because Lemon’s aims to keep things communal, there’s plenty of thoughtfully designed seating and comfy cushions on which to kick back, get social and enjoy an NYC sunset.

Saluti!

 

BlackBook ‘Rooms With a View’: The Arlo NoMad Hotel NYC

 

 

We can’t help it – sometimes we just slip into etymology. And so it was that we discovered that the name Arlo is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “fortified hill.”

Of course, NoMad, the mythological neighborhood squeezed between Gramercy and Midtown, has no hills; but it does have one of the best perches from which to view those most awesome skyward edifices of the exalted borough of Manhattan. It just happens to belong to the new-ish Arlo NoMad hotel, sister to the Arlo Soho a little further downtown, and the Nautilus by Arlo in Miami –  an obviously relatively small hotel group, that nevertheless seems to be stirring up a lot of attention.

We checked in recently, admittedly lured by the possibility of open-air cocktails with a side of that aforementioned fabulous view, courtesy of the hotel’s A.R.T NoMad rooftop bar. But as happened, some of the rooms themselves offered just as much eye-candy.

Here’s what we loved.

 

The Location

NoMad is still a neighborhood finding its way – for instance, upscale retail has not quite taken off here. But it’s a visual gem of an area, with much of the same handsome Beaux Arts architecture as the adjacent Flatiron. From the hotel (located on 31st between 5th and Madison) it’s a quick hop to Midtown meetings, a Park Avenue South lunch date…or take an evening zip westward for a bout of irresponsible fashion profligacy, followed by some even more fashionable cocktailing in the Meatpacking District. And, well, the increasingly thrilling Museum of Sex is just around the corner from the Arlo.

 

 

The Rooms

Like its Soho counterpart, the Arlo NoMad very much wants to coax out your inner social animal, with relatively small, reasonably priced rooms (meaning, please spend more time in the bar). But those on the higher of the 31 floors (the Sky View Rooms) may just leave you mesmerized enough to hole yourself up for long periods of time. Indeed, they are for all intents and purposes glass cubes with a bed and bathroom. So, the majestic city is right there sprawled out around and below you – a dizzyingly stunning urban tableaux. Should you prefer something a little less dramatic, rooms with more recognizable walls still have generous windows – ours even looked out onto the Empire State Building.
What is most impressive, however, is what they’ve managed to fit into 150 square feet, including abundant, comfy beds, as well as surprisingly spacious and beautifully styled bathrooms, with cool, grey concrete floors (our favorite). Overhead storage units allow for getting unsightly luggage out of sight, a pragmatic but thoughtful touch.

 

 

Studio / Barlo

It’s essentially a lounge area. But playing to trends, Studio is set up as a co-working enclave – because, apparently, none of us ever seem to stop working. It handily divides up into three separate territories, fitted with ample TV screens (perfect for small group screenings or presentations, obviously) and all the right tech gadgetry. But the stylish, light-flooded space does genuinely invite a bit of downtime, relaxing over a coffee from Barlo, which is just a quick walk past the central staircase.
In the evenings, for those not particularly enamored of rooftop scenes, the Studio/Barlo duo offers a quieter, more contemplative – or possibly even romantic – cocktail alternative.

 

 

A.R.T. NoMad Rooftop

Due to the luck of location, there is nary a visual obstruction from where you sit at the A.R.T. NoMad – so it has easily one of the few most breath-stopping views in the city. There’s even a plexiglass floor in one spot, which allows you to see 31 floors down to the street (careful with that vertigo). Now certainly, the drinks themselves can sometimes be an afterthought as such sceney spots; and while there were indeed no Aperol-worshipping, old-timey-suspendered “mixologists” on hand, the manhattans and mojitos we ordered were spot on. The crowd, which seemed to include a fair mount of flirtatious types, was also very much international – so come prepared to chat about politics in Turkey, the economy in Argentina, or the latest hotspots in Milan.

 

 

Lamalo Restaurant

Though reviews were good, Arlo NoMad’s former Massoni restaurant was just given a thorough makeover, and is now Lamalo, a stylish Middle Eastern spot with colorful tile work and an intimate bar area. Expect a menu of cabbage shank, short rib, grilled octopus, etc, with eastern-influenced prep and spices – as well as The Daily Spread, featuring an assortment of seasonal dips and salads.

 

 

Bohemia, New England – Where Ethereal Songstress Ingrid Chavez Goes to Find Inspiration

 

 

Ingrid Chavez exploded onto the scene in the early ’90s, collaborating with Prince, playing his love interest in Graffiti Bridge, co-writing Madonna’s hit song “Justify My Love,” and releasing an album, titled May 19, 1992 (on the Paisley Park label), that marked her out as a sure bet for stardom.

But shortly after, she met British singer David Sylvian, and the two escaped to a New Hampshire farm to work on music and raise two daughters. Chavez has called New England her home ever since.

One of the reasons is that she finds perpetual inspiration in the landscape, and the serenity of the lifestyle – which played muse once again as Ingrid recorded her latest album, Memories of Flying, released earlier this month. So when BlackBook had the opportunity to interview her, we asked her to also sketch out a personal little guide to the region.

 

Five New England Destinations That Inspire Ingrid Chavez

“As creative as I tried to be at mothering when my children were young, there was always that need to step away for a day or two to wander aimlessly along the New England country side, alone in my thoughts, letting the road guide me as I hummed to a new song, trying to find the words. I’d take myself out on an artist date, throw my camera and a journal into my bag, pick a destination and just drive. There was always the hunt for a cafe that would have a perfect cup of coffee and a cozy corner that allows for reflection. These five destinations have inspired words and songs and photos for me along the way.”

 

Tunnel City Coffee, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA

In the farthest, most northeastern corner of Massachusetts, you will find one of the best museums of contemporary art on the east coast. Connected to the building is Tunnel City Coffee, a perfect spot to stop before or after exploring the museum. The cafe windows look out to the upside down maple trees planted when MASS MoCA first opened 20 years ago. The old warehouse vibe with its exposed bricks is a perfect place to sit unhurried for the writer and coffee drinker in you. I recommend the Mohawk Trail from Greenfield, MA to North Adams, stopping in at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters (house made biscotti that is out of this world) along the way or going into the town of Shelburne Falls for the Bridge of Flowers and local artisan shops.

 

 

Amherst Coffee, Amherst, Massachusetts

If you find yourself in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, the route from Keene, NH to Amherst, MA is a lovely drive. Prime Roast Coffee Roasters in Keene is a great start for road coffee before heading south on Route 10. I recommend their morning glory muffin. Make sure to stop in at the Montague Book mill. The Lady Killibrew Cafe has a great view of the river in a cozy, light filled dining room. About 20 minutes more south you will find yourself in Emily Dickinson country. You can take a tour of the homestead, I highly recommend it. My favorite cafe in town is Amherst Coffee, they carry Great Barrington Coffee, a regional favorite of mine. They have little booths that you can tuck yourself into and disappear with a book or journaling. A bonus: it’s next to the Amherst Cinema. Last time I was there they were hosting an Andrei Tarkovsky film festival.

No. Six Depot Roastery, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Route 7 from Great Barrington, MA north to Stockbridge (Norman Rockwell Museum) and onto Lenox is a gorgeous drive. I have a soft spot for this part of Massachusetts. This area is home to the Tanglewood Music Festival and The Kripalu Yoga center. As for my number one favorite cafe, it would be No. Six Depot Roastery and cafe/gallery located in West Stockbridge. They sell loose leaf tea and their own roasted coffee. My personal favorites are the Indian Masala Tea and the Seck-Sie Organic roasted coffee. I also love their Nutella muffins.

 

 

Hilltop Cafe, Wilton, NH

Another drive starting in Brattleboro, VT, will take you east along 101 to Wilton, NH. This is one of the most scenic autumn peeper routes in New Hampshire. Two great coffee experiences are at either end of the journey. Mocha Joe’s Cafe, a funky little basement coffee shop on Main Street in Brattleboro has been a go to for my family for 20 years. At the other end of the journey is the Hilltop Cafe. It is off the beaten path but a great experience, in a restored 1765 farmhouse. The road to Wilton runs through the town of Dublin, where Mount Monadnock, one of the most climbed mountains in the world, is located. If you have time, take a walk through the quaint town of Peterborough before heading over Temple Mountain into Wilton, the last town in the Monadnock region.

Nashoba Brook Bakery, Concord, Massachusetts 

A destination in and of itself for their fresh baked goods, sandwiches and cappuccino – but while you are in the area you must check out the rich literary history of Concord, home of the Transcendentalist movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Louis May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne are just some of the famous authors to write from this place. Take a walk in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to Authors Ridge to pay homage to the final resting place of some of the most notable writers of the time. A few miles out of the center of town you can visit Walden Pond. The walk along the water’s edge to where Thoreau built a cabin is peaceful and puts you in the mind of what inspired his book Walden. Route 119 from Brattleboro, VT to Concord, MA is a perfect day trip. Finish up the day in a comfy chair with a warm cup of coffee at Caffe Nero in the historic center of town.