The Greenwich, New York
We took a straight drive from Midtown to Downtown. The changes along the way are noticeable and as ever, thrilling. New York is just one amazing movie set for the likes of myself and Clio, though arriving at The Greenwich Hotel was almost strangely familiar, more Manhattan Upper West side perhaps. It is a truly handsome face-brick corner building, (hand cut bricks to be precise), with an aura of grand, aged, charm. It is only a few years old.
Checking-in to this Tribeca triumph, and you immediately dread the departure. On impact you realise you have found somewhere so stunningly individual, eclectic, warm and inviting that anything vaguely prescriptive would be a turn-off. If you could 'do this at home', you would.
The hotel is the inspiration of Robert de Niro, in collaboration with top designer David Rockwell, along with a couple of serious hotel pundits. He created a hotel that strikes a wonderfully nostalgic chord with everyone who appreciates the finer details within luxury hotels and exclusive private homes, not just in New York, worldwide.
In order to create or recreate his fondest memories, there has been unprecedented commitment to Old-World craftsmanship alongside hand-made detail using materials that have been sourced from countries around the world. The list is endless in this regard, but to mention a few: re-claimed wood is found throughout the hotel; the antique glass mirrors on all floors were salvaged from a New York landmark, the Flatiron Building; Turkish travertine has been laid throughout the public spaces and on terraces... The subtle merging of the many cultural influences has been so successfully accomplished that never once did you feel that something was out of place.
All the furniture is custom made and deeply desirable. While enjoying the most impeccable peach martini, reclining on one of the aged leather sofas in the private drawing room, beside the gentle aromatic embers flickering from within the olive marble fireplace, I mentioned to the waiter just how splendid the leather sofas were. He told me that I probably felt at home because they were created by Beaumont and Fletcher in England. Master de Niro has stopped at nothing to create this cosy, seductive, cosseting vibe.
One of the most striking features of the hotel, and there are many, is the central arched courtyard, accessed via the drawing room. It's 'palazzo' atmosphere feels totally in keeping with the hotel and creates an enticing area with its latticed vines, lush greenery and intimate seating arrangement. You almost pine for this refreshing retreat after so much glass, steel and concrete. The effect of such a space is magically uplifting and, as with so much of this hotel, romantically evocative.
Another feature that must be mentioned, especially for those that seek a Zen pampering, is the Shibui Spa and pool, which features a 250-year old pine and bamboo house that was shipped out from Kyoto and recreated by Japanese craftsmen, in exacting traditional style. You are quite literally transported down here. I had a 'drunken lotus' massage, using lashings of jojoba oil and white lotus, followed by hot towels to unravel my tense muscles. It was pure bliss.
Bedrooms are both eccentric and eclectic
I tried to find fault during our stay but I was far too comfortable, content, enriched and just happy to be here. We did change rooms because I wanted a bathtub and in the process we gleaned a few. Each intimate and refined room is eccentrically different; there is no obvious formula here except the hidden one that comes from appreciating what it takes to make a fabulous stay. Our bathroom was fitted with hundreds of small hand-cut Moroccan tiles while the bedroom had a great sofa (of course) a supremely comfortable Swedish Duxiana bed with a fur throw folded at the foot, a cot for Bibi, plus that all coveted side view of the Hudson River.
Each boudoir has bookshelves lined with quirky novels and poetry, there are hand woven Tibetan rugs on the floor, and the bathrooms are either authentically Moroccan or glamorously Italian in Carrera marble. We were also given a ridiculously generous bowl of candy that I placed promptly in my case, much to the delight of my starving children back home and for the sake of my hips. Clio's disappeared, but not into her case.
The staff here are exceptionally warm, not too familiar, but easy, confident and naturally welcoming with an extremely helpful concierge. There were some 'A list' guests enjoying a discreet stay during our stay, however, like the staff; we didn't bat an eyelid, of course. Bibi was made to feel very welcome; being home-spun-inspired, children are not out of place, besides a short stroll from the hotel, your little ones can enjoy one of those incredible Manhattan playgrounds, beside the spectacular Hudson River, complete with mini-golf course. All this activity takes place in view of the Statue of Liberty.
The locale and dining
It is for many, one of New York's most desirable neighbourhoods. The hotel is situated on the corner of Greenwich Street and North Street in TriBeCa. Its appeal must be due to the fact that it feels more spacious here, more open and less frenetic. There is a discreet even low-key feel to the district, which is echoed within the hotel, however, with the West Side Highway only one block away you could be living it up in no time. We enjoyed dining at the original Nobu around the corner from the hotel. We walked to Ground Zero, only ten-minutes away, we visited a church, shopped little, and just enjoyed the atmosphere of somewhere a little more relaxed.
We stayed over a weekend at The Greenwich and the Sunday felt like a Sunday so the brasserie next door, the Tribeca Grill was an ideal venue. A Sunday brunch/lunch institution for locals, this place was a-buzz with that all familiar informal end-of-weekend vibe, where diets have slipped into last week and cheeks are flushed with excellently executed Bloody Marys. Its very stylish here, (face brick walls are decorated with de Niro's 'Miro-esque' paintings while chandeliers hang from exposed beams), but Bibi throwing her mini baguette went unnoticed. The food was good but not excellent.
The food that we enjoyed most came from Andrew Carmellini's kitchen in the Locanda Verde tavern back at The Greenwich Hotel. However, you really do need to make a reservation here as this place was packed out. We decided to have our delectable blue crab with jalapeno and tomato followed by roasted scallops (perfect) in the comfort of 'our' ever so calm and actually very groovy drawing room. This is a privilege bequeathed only to private guests. We loved it. It takes on a sort of exotic hunting lodge vibe at night and the bar in the corner throws out some incredible cocktails while the wine list has many good wines, including some outstanding, quite reasonable, entirely befitting Barolo. Naturally.
We left realising that this hotel would indeed be a tough act to follow. Uptown was waiting, our final curtain call, and thanks to The Greenwich Hotel, our jetlag was taken care of. If New York is your stop-off or bookend, this place is a must. On the other hand, if you wanted a retreat for a longer stay, then, like the 'A-lister', we 'befriended', this is dream-home-from-home.