Coworking, Camp and Candy: A Review of the Arlo Soho in New York
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To The Point
The Arlo SoHo is a micro hotel with small rooms but lots of communal spaces to share. Pros: awesome outdoor space, comfortable beds and cool co-working. Cons: tiny rooms, added resort fee, no coffeemaker.
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After testing out the micro hotel concept at the Arlo NoMad, I wanted to see if a change of neighborhood would make things any different. I spent two nights at the Arlo SoHo, and the vibe was completely different than the NoMad location, starting with the 24-hour-a-day Dylan’s Candy Bar in the lobby (danger!).
If you’re not sure what a micro hotel is, it’s basically a way to justify small hotel rooms in large cities like Tokyo or New York. Rooms are extra small — but that’s by design. The whole idea is that you’ll be spending the majority of your time exploring the city you’re visiting.
But the Arlo Soho goes a step beyond. The brand has created several public and coworking spaces for guests to use to escape their tiny rooms. In-room desk too small? Television too close? Don’t worry, because you can sit downstairs and cowork, watch movies, drink wine and more.
Room rates were just under $400 per night at the Arlo SoHo, which is pretty average for New York, and much cheaper than the $600 rate I paid at the Arlo NoMad. (This was when the UN was in session and hotels in the area were extremely expensive.) This property, like its counterpart in NoMad, charged a $29 “urban fee” on top of the nightly rate for all the extra amenities you got, like coworking spaces, ground-floor outdoor space, a rooftop bar, free New York Sports Club access, yoga and pilates, daily complimentary wine happy hour, movie nights, complimentary bike rentals and more. Some of the rooms actually had outdoor terraces, which would be really nice when there’s mild weather in the Big Apple.
I used my Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card to prepay for the room, earning 10x miles on purchases made at Hotels.com (ends Jan. 31, 2020). Thanks to my Hotels.com Gold status, I got a one-time coupon for 15% off at the hotel convenience store, a small in-room gift and an upgrade to a city-view room. Upon checkout, I paid my daily urban fee using my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card to get 3x per points on travel purchases.
The Arlo SoHo was really on the very edge of the Soho neighborhood. Although it was just north of Canal Street, the hotel’s location felt much more like Tribeca. Regardless of which neighborhood it’s actually in, you’ll have to walk a few minutes to get to the more active areas of both Soho and Tribeca. I did stumble upon a neighborhood Argentinean restaurant just a few blocks away called Estancia 460 that I would highly recommend for lunch or dinner.
The 1 train’s Canal Street stop was just a few minutes away by foot. Despite the hotel being very far west, I still preferred this area to the NoMad location, because I tend to spend more time downtown. If you’re visiting New York to see the main tourist attractions, this may not be the best location for you, especially if you aren’t used to walking a lot.
It’s also important to know that the hotel was close to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel, meaning there was always tunnel traffic, no matter what time of day (or night). It wasn’t all that easy to reach the hotel by taxi or ride-share service, as I always ended up stuck in tunnel traffic. Heading north on Hudson was the easiest way to avoid that traffic, and I found that hailing a passing taxi as it was heading uptown was better than trying to get Uber or Lyft, as drivers never failed to get stuck in the tunnel traffic when trying to reach me.
When I walked into the lobby around 9:30am, my eyes went immediately to the colorful bins of sweet treats at Dylan’s Candy Bar. I tore my gaze away from the Reese’s Pieces whispering my name and headed to the reception desk, where women wearing the Arlo staff uniform of khakis and chambray shirts greeted me. You didn’t see many guests (or any staff) wearing stuffy suits here. It was better to sport ripped jeans and hoodies to fit right in with the trendy vibe.
My room wasn’t ready yet, and the staff promised to email me if it was ready before the 3pm check-in. Although I had plans outside the hotel, I could have easily set up shop and worked from the common spaces of the hotel, watched TV, read or met friends there while waiting for my room.
The small reception area gave way to a huge lobby with several different areas.
With sofas, chairs, large tables and plenty of outlets, it felt like a stylish coworking space and not a hotel lobby.
One area had a bar, and there was even outdoor space with lots of seating for guests to hang out and relax. Beyond this was Harold’s restaurant, which served food and drinks.
The vibe was hip and youthful, but I could also see a lot of people were using the space to work on their laptops. This area also had puzzles, board games and even a large projector where they played movies in the evenings, as well as a corner with a big TV.
Having already strolled through the lobby, I headed out and later received an email around 1:30pm stating my room was ready. I loved the email contact and much preferred this to a phone call. Once I was back, I was given my room keys, along with the discount card for 15% off at the convenience store. Since it was only for one use, staff suggested I stock up.
I then went to the elevators and up to the eighth floor. My room was 840, and the dazzling geometric pattern in the hallway carpeting made me feel like I was in a maze of sorts.
My room was nearly identical to the one I stayed in just a few days earlier at the Arlo NoMad, except even smaller.
The bed was basically in a pod, touching the large window and both walls from front to back. A TV was mounted on one of the walls, and I could swivel it around to watch in bed or while in the room. (Google Chromecast hookup was available.)
The city view was dominated by a huge billboard that said “DogPound” on it. If you’re wondering why the bedding is creased in the above photo, it’s because I had to climb over the bed to admire (and snap) the view from the window.
Nevertheless, the room did have a good amount of natural light during the day, and automatic blackout shades ensured it was nice and dark at night. I was able to get a couple great nights of sleep. I actually enjoyed sleeping in the pod-style bed. It made me feel like a little kid again, all tucked away and safe, hiding in a cozy fort I’d made under the dining table.
The desk, next to the sink, could be pulled down and folded up to save space. The “chair” was more of a stool, and the combination of the two wasn’t really suitable for more than a few minutes of casual work. Any serious work you’d need to get done could easily happen in the abundant working space in the lobby.
My VIP Hotels.com status also awarded me a small gift from Dylan’s Candy Bar (gummies and nuts, no Reese’s, unfortunately) and two extra water bottles. Of course, I ate them in bed and lost a couple to the cracks — there really wasn’t an ideal eating space in the room. There’s really nothing like waking up with a peanut stuck in your hair.
The snacks also came with a handwritten note — XOXO included!
The bathroom was beside the door, and the toilet was the first thing I saw when I opened the door.
The shower was rather spacious considering the small size of the room, and would likely pass the TPG shower test (though I’m only 5 feet, 2 inches, so it’s hard to tell exactly).
I enjoyed using the Blind Barber amenities, which had a light lemongrass smell.
A hair dryer and steamer hung in bags next to the sink.
The closet wasn’t much of a closet at all, with just a small rack, a few hangers and an umbrella.
The hanging space was above a mini-fridge with two more complimentary cartons of water. The safe could be found in a drawer that pulled out from under the bed.
There was extra storage space next to the safe, but it wasn’t really convenient to have to kneel down on the floor and dig for personal items. I was able to change the temperature in the room and, unlike the Arlo NoMad, the A/C was much less noisy. In typical millennial hotel fashion, the room had plenty of charging options, like USB and regular outlets by the bed and around the room.
The room was extremely small, but functional for my two-night stay, especially given I had access the work and common areas. However, for two people, it would be a very different story. The room would have been a very tight squeeze for two, and if you had a lot of luggage, forget it. If you plan to stay with two, travel light, and make sure whoever wakes up earlier sleeps on the outside. Otherwise, you’ll have to crawl over your partner to get out — no direct aisle access for all passengers here!
I liked that the hotel did turndown service, shutting the blackout shades and leaving two chocolates on the bed.
As I mentioned above, the hotel offered amenities like coworking spaces, a rooftop bar, free New York Sports Club access, yoga and pilates, daily complimentary wine happy hour, movie nights and complimentary bike use. Regardless of whether you actually did any of that, you had to pay the $29 urban fee, so it you come here, you might as well try to take advantage and do and use as much as possible.
During my two-night stay, I was able to spend a little bit of time in the lobby area, making sure to check out the outdoor area called Camp Arlo, which often hosts events during nice weather. This was probably the first time I’d ever seen a space like this in any New York City hotel, and it was really cool, with picnic tables, plants and umbrellas.
I also went up to the rooftop with friends, sipping an Aperol spritz ($18, with no discount even if you paid your urban fee) and nibbling on delicious french fries.
The vibe was fabulous — unpretentious, chill and the perfect place to spend an afternoon or a couple of hours after work.
The views weren’t the most epic I’ve seen (the ones from the Arlo NoMad were definitely more impressive), but the ambience was so relaxed that I didn’t care. I didn’t have time to see what the evening vibe was like once things got dark, but the space was very cool in general, especially with the sun setting over New Jersey across the Hudson River.
I also tested out the complimentary happy hour from 5:30pm to 7pm. The hotel called it a digital detox — everyone was still on their phones, of course, but whatever.
Although I was staying in the room on my own, I came with two friends and told the bartender he could charge the third glass to my room (in theory, it’s for hotel guests, so two per room), but he said not to worry about it, which was really nice. My friends and I ordered prosecco and red wine while snacking on deviled eggs and bruschetta. The bartender asked if I wanted another glass before the happy hour ended, but I was rushing to an event and declined.
I used the 15%-off coupon for a coffee and hard-boiled eggs at the convenience store one morning.
The breakfast options there were limited, with croissants and bagels, fruit and yogurt but no hot foods. Later in the day, they had healthy salads and sandwiches available. I really wish my resort fee included free coffee in the lobby or a coffeemaker in the room. It’s one of the only complaints I had about the hotel.
Although I didn’t hang out in the lobby much in the evening, I noticed the free movie screening one day. They were even passing out free popcorn for viewers.
The staff also told me that I could request a free pass to New York Sports Club or do the yoga or pilates classes, which were either on the roof (weather permitting) or in one of the event spaces.
Sign-up was required for the Surfset yoga and pilates. I didn’t get a chance to test out any of the fitness events, as the classes were on select days and didn’t work with my schedule. The staff kept the board in the lobby updated with all the activities.
One thing I loved about the Arlo SoHo was the attention to sustainability. Most of the complimentary water offered in the rooms was in cartons, not bottled, and there was a water dispensary in the lobby, so I could refill easily.
I had a really nice stay at the Arlo SoHo, despite the positively tiny room. I only wish I’d had more time to take advantage of some of the benefits my urban fee paid for, like the complimentary bikes or fitness classes. If you’re looking to hang out in a co-working space with like-minded individuals, this micro hotel is a cool concept to try out. Although the rooms were small, the space was sufficient for one person who packs light and enjoys a communal spaces for work and play. If you can swing a good rate here (sometimes rooms can be as low as $250 per night), it would be worth it, and I would certainly stay here again if I were on my own.
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