Checking In and Checking Out

Two Fireplaces Are Better than One: A NYC Hotel Made for Staycations

by Kim VanderVoort
Walker Come on in, the fire's warm. Photo courtesy of The Walker Hotel.

We first checked into The Walker Greenwich Village a few years ago — remember that? when life was so much simpler? — and gave it high marks. As many New Yorkers are looking for somewhere to go that doesn't require, you know, actually going anywhere, an elegant in-the-city staycation that won't break the bank has never sounded better.

NEW YORK CITY – There comes a moment every year when the only answer to surviving New York City — its biting wind tunnels, wintry slush puddles so vast they're Bodies of Water, and the onslaught of so. many. other people — is a swanky establishment with a liquor license and a fireplace. This year, the impulse came over me faster than you can say "subway delay." Before I knew it, I had booked myself a staycation at a nearby hotel that promised a little TLC. What better cure for urban gloom than a fireplace?

Two! The answer is two fireplaces. My hotel of choice was Walker Hotel Greenwich Village, née the Jade Hotel, in my neighborhood of Greenwich Village, an area not known for charming hotels (or any hotels, really). It was the kind of place I've walked by a thousand times, each time thinking how nice it would be to check in, resigning myself to the likelihood that I never would (which made it all the more satisfying when I did book my stay). When I arrived, the façade, strung in a near excess of garland and twinkling lights, conjured some of the magic the city held for me in my teen years, back when everything about Manhattan was still electrifying and romantic and possible.

The arrival was grand: Through beautiful cast-iron double doors and down a wide staircase that lent an air of elegance to the cozy lobby area, where mauve velvet abounds and the first fireplace beckons. It felt more like a lounge than a lobby: While I was checking in, a few groups sipped cocktails around cafe tables behind me.

The lobby. Photo courtesy of The Walker Hotel.

My room was just as swanky, if small, furnished with custom-designed Art Deco versions of the usual hotel decor suspects: queen bed, armoire, desk, armchair, mounted TV. The hotel is in the middle of the block facing other similarly tall buildings, so my view was nothing special, but neither was the room begging for one. I drew the curtains and relished in the dim lighting while I played with the rotary phone next to the bed. I realized a hair too late that it was a completely functional phone capable of dialing all sorts of hotel extensions. When the front desk picked up, I blushed.

I would have stayed curled up in my homey little room were it not for the reservation I had made at downstairs Society Café, where I was greeted by teal banquettes, antique mirrors, walnut finishes, a friendly staff, and (behold!) the second fireplace. Perusing "A Field Guide to the Uncommon Cocktails of Middle Manhattan" (AKA the drinks menu), complete with sketches of herbs and plants and family-genus-species-style descriptions, I welcomed the gimmick. I felt like a botanist.

The kitchen sources their ingredients four days per week from the farmers and purveyors of nearby Union Square Greenmarket, ensuring a menu that's always fresh and seasonal.

Alas, my sojourn was brief, but it was exactly the warm respite from the outside world — with its gray skies and endless to-do's — that I needed.

BOOK IT

Rates begin at $179 (a crazy low rate for Manhattan). Click here to book or contact the Fathom Concierge if you need help planning a whole NYC trip.

Walker Hotel
I curled up next to the hotel lobby fireplace. Photo by Kim Vandervoort.
Walker Hotel room
My dear friend, the rotary phone. Photo by Kim Vandervoort.
Society Cafe menu
I didn't need the field guide to know I wanted a negroni. Photo by Kim Vandervoort.
Society Cafe. Photo courtesy of The Walker Hotel.


CHECKING IN

Location
Greenwich Village, at the midway point between Union Square and the Meatpacking District.

Hotel Style
Up to date with some well-placed old-school Art-Deco touches. I loved old-timey accents like the bedside rotary phone, the dial radio on the desk (fear not — it has bluetooth capability), and black-and-white subway tile in the bathrooms.

This Place Is Perfect For
NYC anti-tourists looking for a chic, well-located alternative to a trendy, big-name hotel.

What's on Site
Society Cafe is the hotel's only restaurant, but the lobby serves from the carefully curated cocktail list as well. For health-conscious travelers, there's a 24-hour fitness center.

The Rooms
There are no suites, but among the 113 rooms a handful on the second floor and the top floor feature furnished terraces for private outdoor lounging. If you splurge for the Walker Terrace on the top floor, you'll have spectacular views of the Empire State Building.

Room Amenities
C.O. Bigelow toiletries, hair dryer, robes, Frette linens, HDTVs, and, complimentary bottled water and, drumroll please, free WiFi. (I can't believe there are still hotels that don't offer free WiFi.)

Noise Level
Quiet.

Drawbacks
The rooms aren't huge. For something more palatial at this price, you're barking up the wrong city.

Standout Detail
Did I mention the rotary phone next to the bed? Ah, the irony that this is a novelty.

A Bedford Double room. Photo courtesy of The Walker Hotel.
A bedroom. Photo courtesy of The Walker Hotel.

CHECKING OUT

Neighborhood
Greenwich Village is home to the artists of yesterday and the upscale restaurants of today, plus a ton of NYU kids and even more NYU buildings.

What to Do Nearby
The Walker Hotel is so centrally located that you can catch a train to almost anywhere in the city, but to keep things uber-local, stroll through Washington Square Park, browse new, used, and rare books at legendary Strand Bookstore, check out Tibetan art at Rubin Museum, and catch a jazz set at neighborhood staple Village Vanguard.

My hit list of nearby restaurant favorites includes Danny Meyer's revamped and relocated Union Square Café, classic high-end Italian enoteca Babbo, rustic farm-to-table Italian Rosemary's, and wine powerhouse Corkbuzz, which has outposts in Union Square and inside Chelsea Market.

KEEP EXPLORING DOWNTOWN NYC

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