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TPG Managing Editor Eric Rosen spent a night at the Standard High Line in New York City last month and booked it using the travel app Hotel Tonight. Here he recounts his experience booking the room and staying at one of the city’s trendiest hotels.
After my two-night stay at Soho House New York, it turned out I had to extend my stay in New York City by a night so I did a quick search of the online travel agency and hotel chain sites to see what room rates were looking like and found they were sky high thanks to the UN convention taking place that week. Even nights at mid-tier properties were going for somewhere around $700 per night, so I decided to look at Hotel Tonight, a hotel booking app for iPhone and Android, that often finds deeply discounted room rates.
The app currently partners with hotels all over the US in major cities like New York, but also other destinations such as Napa, Lake Tahoe, Charleston, Jacksonville and dozens of others. It also has the major Canadian cities covered as well as resort destinations in Mexico including Cabo and Cancun plus about two dozen cities in Europe.
You have to wait until noon in the time zone you’re waiting to book because that is when the app updates with last-minute availability from its partner properties, so as soon as it struck noon, I fired up the app, searched New York City and waited to see what came up.
Unfortunately, the biggest discounts I could find were about $100 off a room, and because I wanted to stick around the same area I’d been staying in – West Village/Meatpacking – I settled on the Standard High Line, which was going for $606 everywhere else but Hotel Tonight got down to $525. I did take a quick look at the other options, though, which the app made easy to navigate with a map feature and an info tab with short write ups on each property and Hotel Tonight user ratings.
It was my first time using the app, so I had to enter in my personal information and credit card (my Sapphire Preferred, of course, so I could earn 2.14X points per $1 on travel!), but that only took a moment or two, I hit the button to book the room and my reservation was confirmed in the app and an email confirmation was sent to me. Done and done.
I spent the rest of the day out at various meetings for work and got to the hotel at about 6:00pm. It’s on the far west side of Manhattan at the corner 13th street and Washington, and the 70’s-Modernist-style tower housing its 338 guest rooms and suites straddles the High Line park that runs along a former elevated rail line (hence the name), though the lobby and one of the hotel’s restaurants is at ground level.
There was a short line in the lobby, but the reception agents cycled through everyone fairly quickly. Because my room was prepaid they ran my credit card again for incidentals like minibar. Then they stuck my room keys into a little leather holder that looked sort of like a passport case and sent me on my way.
I stepped off the elevators on the 13th floor and saw that my room was the one right at the beginning of the hall off the elevator banks so I went inside, called downstairs and asked if they could move me to another free room farther down the hall in either direction so that I wouldn’t be bothered by the noise of the foot traffic of guests getting on and off the elevators. Within a minute, they agent had secured another room for me on the 15th floor 3 doors down – perfect. She only warned me that sometimes guests on the 15-16 floors complain about noise from the nightclub on the 17th floor, but I decided I’d take my chances. Turns out you could hear the bass beat of the club’s music faintly in my room, but nothing a handy pair of ear plugs couldn’t mute.
The new room was the exact same as the first room I’d gotten – a standard with a south-facing view that overlooked the Hudson, the High Line (I had to draw the curtains so I wouldn’t flash anyone when getting dressed and undressed!) and down to Wall Street, the Freedom Tower and New York Harbor beyond with the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
Considering the price of the room, I was actually a bit disappointed by it…on several counts. First, it was a Standard Queen Room – the entry category – and measured up at a meager 240 square feet. Well, that’s New York for you, but it still felt cramped for some reason even though it was only sparsely furnished.
There was a small entryway with the WC with just a toilet on the right, and a tiny closet area with a curtain that covered the hanging bar and small shelves on the right side. On the left was the open bathroom (no door) tiled in black glazed bricks with a single small sink, though a decent amount of counter space, and a shower along the far wall with just a sheet of glass separating it from the sink and no door or anything, so when you shower, it just sort of splashes all over the place. There was also a deep soaking tub opposite the sink that was separated from the main portion of the room by a set of wooden shutters.
Basically the bathroom exemplified two of my least-favorite hotel bathroom trends: peekaboo bathrooms with shutters or windows between the bedroom and bathroom; and showers that don’t close off so that your floor ends up being constantly wet.
In the main room, a black and brown wooden cupboard held the minibar, and in the bedroom itself there was a small sitting area with a cushioned banquette, a wooden table and chair, a wall-mounted mirror and overhead light, and the LG plasma flatscreen TV mounted on the wall.
The bed was a queen with white-on-white Italian linens and down pillows with a paneled wooden headboard and black nightstand shelves with an iPod stereo clock. The WiFi was free and worked perfectly, so I was able to get a lot of work done (ahem!) and there were no tech issues, which was a relief after the spotty WiFi at Soho House.
The whole look is late-70’s retro cool – sort of like if Knightrider had a bachelor pad in Manhattan, and while the aesthetic wasn’t really to my taste, it did feel hip and like a distinct design choice, which I appreciate in an era where every taupe-and-beige hotel room tends to look the same. Besides, the real draw here are the floor-to-ceiling windows with million-dollar views that let you feel like you are unmistakably in New York City.
The hotel has a little fitness center on the 17th floor with still more stunning views of the city (and yes, I actually used a hotel gym for once!). On the top floor is a restaurant/lounge called the Top of the Standard that serves coffee and tea during the day then cocktails and small plates in the evening.
Adjacent to this is the hotel’s club and bar, Le Bain, which has an indoor bar complete with hot tub and then an upstairs outdoor deck with a crepe stand and another bar and lots of lounge furniture scattered across the astroturfed ground plus a plunge pool. This is definitely one of the city’s most popular spots during summer and in nice weather.
Down on the street level, the hotel’s main restaurant is the Standard Grill, which is open all day long and serves a seasonal menu of salads, sandwiches and more formal fare in the evening like roasted fish and meats, pasta and even caviar.. The Standard Plaza is a little patio right outside the hotel entrance where the menu changes with the season – right now its light Italian fare like think-crust pizzas and gelato, and this winter it will transform into an Alpine café.
To celebrate Oktoberfest, the hotel also currently has a Biergarten serving German and American beers, huge pretzels, sausages and more that’s open late into the evening and where I stopped in for a hefeweizen before turning in one evening.
Just behind the front desk and lobby, the hotel also has a cool little boutique that sells artsy souvenirs, art books and clothes and accessories by high-end but off-beat designers – it was fun just to browse.
Despite the small size of the room and the somewhat precious aesthetic as well as the crowds of partygoers that thronged the lobby and the sidewalk outside the hotel to get to Le Bain, I had a really nice, brief stay at the Standard. I love hotels that truly feel unique and give you a sense of the place you’re in, and the Standard High Line had that in spade thanks to its incredible city views, its location on the High Line in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city and several great social venues for grabbing a meal or drinks. I wouldn’t pay $600 for it again, but for what I needed when I needed it, it worked out fine for me.