It doesn’t matter how many lists you make, how many Google Docs you share, how many trips to the minis section in Superdrug you do, no holiday plan ever runs without hiccup. Our unaccounted-for curveball came when Airbnb managed to cock up our details in their ‘new and improved’ (pfft) system just five days before we were due to land in New York City…
For the first leg of our double-destination trip we booked a swanky hotel in Reykjavik so to provide a bit of blessed relief for our bank balances, we decided to scope out an Airbnb for our time in the Big Apple. Back in January we found a gorgeous apartment in Greenwich Village, just a short stroll away from Washington Square Park and booked it there and then. Everything was plain sailing until literally days before we were due to land and then disaster struck. Thanks Airbnb, thanks a lot.
I say thanks not with the sarcastic irony you might expect but actually with genuine gratitude for their monumental F-up as plan B turned out to be pretty bloody bitchin’. After some last minute scrambling around booking.com courtesy of my other half (fueled by panic that we might be spending four nights on the banks of the Hudson River at this rate) we landed a superior king room at the Dream Downtown hotel in Chelsea, Manhattan and boy was it worth the chaos.
Unbeknownst to us at this point, we had secured a room at one of the most desirable destinations in town at a surprisingly affordable price, all things considered. What, you’re staying HERE?! was what my brother’s girlfriend had choked out as we pulled up to the hotel on 355 16th street. You’re staying where PHD is?! she had continued. Oblivious to our surroundings still as we unloaded our luggage from the car boot, she told us how PHD is one of the most famous rooftop bars in New York and stared wide-eyed at our uneducated nonchalance.
Fast forward ten minutes, after we had stepped over the threshold and into the lobby and we too were agog. Not just your bog standard hotel reception, the uber trendy Dream Downtown lobby doubles up as a portal to the hotel bar (complete with DJ booth), IGK salon, the infamous PHD rooftop lounge, an open-air swimming pool and the two acclaimed restaurants which also belong to the Dream group.
This is definitely no run-of-the mill place to rest your head. Dream Downtown is an experience all of its very own and if I lived more locally, I would happily a spend a whole weekend on its premises alone. So with so much to rave about, let’s break this down a bit…
When it comes to design, it seems a vast majority of hotels are still stuck in the seventies. Even some new builds are still choosing bygone broadloom, fitted linens and fixtures devoid of any 21st Century personality to kit out their rooms over modern aesthetic and cutting-edge ergonomics. Walking into our room with its polished stone floor, shabby-chic rug, circular windows complete with view of the Empire State Building and a beautifully designed wet room divided with panels of frosted glass was a refreshing relief.
A well stocked mini bar complimented a strong snack draw, complete with white chocolate pretzels and a Love Box for anybody who could even dream of mustering up that much energy after a day in the city. Do be aware if you’re due to stay at any of the Dream hotels, mini bar items are on a timed sensor so anything that is taken from there for more than 60 seconds will automatically be charged to your card. My other half learnt this the hard way via a pocket-sized bottle of Woodford Reserve whisky.
Free internet access, light dimming switches, speakers in the bathroom and 24-hour room service were amongst the most impressive finishing touches. Scented water in the steam iron and a sensory dial which enables you to block out exterior sounds while you sleep were just the icing and cherry on top of the cake.
From previous visits to New York, we just kind of gravitated towards the Chelsea/Greenwich areas as our home away from home; the place where we can just… fit in. Away from the whirlwind that is Times Square and a good 50 minute walk from the epicentre of tourist activity that is Central Park, these boroughs on the West Side of the city allow for a little sanctuary in amongst the electricity. I also feel that Chelsea and Greenwich Village allow for a more classic experience of New York that say, Mad Men fans might prefer over say, Marvel fans. It’s more Old Fashioned than CoronaRita, if you know what I mean.
Don’t mistake a slightly slower pace for a lack of entertainment or attraction though. There is plenty to keep you busy around the area including Washington Square Park, Chelsea Market and the stunning High Line. Plus, you’re never far way from anywhere with a subway station right at the end of your street.
There is a whole plethora of bars and eateries in the vicinity of Dream Downtown that are worth a try including a couple of my personal favourites: Empire Diner and The Butcher’s Daughter. However the hotel actually has two restaurants on site which, just like its notorious rooftop nightclub, are a hot topic around this part of town. We managed to squeeze in a booking at both Bodega Negra (a contemporary Mexican) and TAO Downtown (pure Asian fusion magic) during our stay and I can vouch for both their prestigious profiles.
On the website, Dream Downtown is described as a place where you can get into a little mischief – but only if you want to and to be honest, I couldn’t have articulated it better myself. Despite the electric nightlife and food scene going on every single day of the week (it is the city that never sleeps after all), we weren’t at all disturbed on our quieter nights. We spent one evening eating Artichoke Basille pizza from the solitude of our cool, quiet hotel room after walking the Chelsea High Line until the sun came down and enjoyed it every bit as much as the time we spent painting the town red.
If you’ve got a bit of wiggle room in your travel budget and want to splash out on somewhere extra special to stay, I would implore you to consider Dream Downtown. Without a shadow of a doubt. If the Chelsea/Greenwich area is a bit off the beaten tourist track for you, check out Dream Midtown which is just a few blocks away from Central Park Zoo and a ten minute meander from the hustle and bustle of Times Square and the famous Stardust Diner.
We have had a bit of trouble since with the hotel taking payment for our stay twice but hey, technology can be a bitch at the best of times. Just keep an eye out if you choose to stay here.