Beaux-Arts beauty bought back to life
Published by The Independent (30th May, 2014)
My first night’s sleep was broken by the clanking of the air conditioning system. The next day, the door-locking mechanism froze and would not let me return to my room. In the restaurant, my starter of oyster tempura arrived after a chunky main course, while I was placed next to a couple having the most extreme argument over the husband’s many adulterous affairs.
Given this comedy of errors, I should have hated my three nights at New York’s latest upmarket hotel and be advising you to avoid it at all costs. After all, it is not as if there is a lack of sumptuous – if generally rather squeezed – places to stay in this city, especially at the top end of the market.
But in fact, despite all these teething problems (and the forceful colour of the wronged wife’s language before her husband stormed off), I hugely enjoyed my stay at The Quin and would happily return. Partly, this was because despite flaunting 208 plush rooms in a plum location, it has the feel of a small, boutique hotel, with arty aspirations, quiet rooms and hi-tech controls. But largely, it was due to the fantastically friendly staff, even by American standards.
Take James. He was the friendly man in pinstripes running the concierge desk, which is operated by an independent company. When I said I needed a haircut, he made it his mission to find me the best barber in town. Admittedly, it was the most costly haircut I have ever had, although he did offer cheaper alternatives including the place he himself went for a trim. But the payback for spending a small fortune was that every time I descended in the lift I was greeted with a cheery greeting from his marble podium and told how wonderful I looked.
This set the tone for my short stay in this hospitable new Midtown Manhattan hotel, which opened towards the end of 2013. There was also a charming manager who showed me to my room. He delighted in demonstrating the touchscreen tablet with which you can alter the lighting, climate and music. With one swipe you switch on the sounds of birdsong or running water, blast out a burst of hip-hop radio, close the curtains and dim down the lights – or simply order some food. “So how do older guests like this stuff?” I asked. “They tend to ask for a menu on paper,” he said with a rueful smile.
Needless to say, the apologies flowed as the mechanical hiccups were fixed rapidly, and my bill was slashed in the otherwise-excellent seafood restaurant.
The Quin is an urbane hotel that makes much of its artistic heritage, as is clear from the moment you step into its dramatic grey and gold lobby hung with contemporary artworks and lit with tea candles. Among those previously quartered in the Beaux-Arts building were Georgia O’Keeffe, Marc Chagall and the Polish composer turned Prime Minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
For guests of a less artistic bent staying here, there are personal trainers, yoga instructors and stylists at nearby Bergdorf Goodman all on direct dial. And instead of chocolates, there are golden cards with uplifting quotes from famous people left on the pillows at turn-down.
Location This is hard to beat. It is on the corner of 57th Street and 6th Avenue, which means it is just two blocks down from Central Park and very close to the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall and all that expensive shopping on Fifth Avenue. I walked pretty much everywhere – which is, of course, the best way to enjoy New York City.
Comfort Again, difficult to fault – as long as the door opens. My room was modern and decked out in typical beiges and greys, with an incredibly comfortable double bed, Egyptian linen and down pillows. The decently sized marble bathroom had a superb shower and big bath, plus Fresh hair products and body lotions. In the sitting area there were free newspapers, a Nespresso coffee machine, playing cards and a fine array of American snacks such as popcorn and beef jerky. Room service was flawless, while the all-important Wi-Fi was fast and free.
Travel essentials The Quin 101 West 57th Street at Sixth Avenue, New York, US (001 212 245 7846; thequinhotel.com).