The Nolitan Hotel is the first luxury boutique hotel located in NoLita (short for "North of Little Italy"), a thriving and favorite neighborhood in our new hometown, New York. We were recently invited to experience the newly opened design-centric hotel for ourselves, specifically to check out all the tech-related amenities that supposedly offer guests a wide variety of of work/play options at the press of a few buttons. Find out what a resident New Yorker/tech lover thinks about this newcomer to the popular (and frankly over-saturated) boutique hotels market popping up all around the city below...Grzywinski + Pons. The architects were acutely aware of the diversified architecture of the area due in part to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. They chose to highlight this unique characteristic both in the exterior and interior of the building. The facade features two distinct languages which serve to visually split the building so it doesn't feel so monolithic in the presence of the much narrower buildings surrounding it. The materials used both inside and outside were carefully considered to emphasize a feeling of urban luxury with a modern style. Woods, metals, and even poured concrete were utilized yet the building feels cohesive and manages to retain a warm and inviting nature as opposed to an oppressive coldness that many modern buildings suffer from.
The interior of the Nolitan is stylistically similar to the exterior. This can be credited to the architects who were also chosen to design the interior as well. The lobby features a double high ceiling and a beautiful sunken library/sitting area. Beyond that is the hotel's restaurant Ellabess which has a similarly sunken floor that puts the sidewalk outside around eye level for patrons.
Finally, the Nolitan features a beautiful roof with vistas as far as the eye can see. There isn't a single building taller than the Nolitan in the area to block your view. Looking uptown or downtown will give you beautiful views of Manhattan as well as looking east over the Williamsburg bridge into Brooklyn. Unfortunately as of the time of this review, the roof has not yet been completed and remains bare. During my stay, I visited the roof several times.
On the final occasion, however, a security guard very kindly informed me that the roof was off limits while it was unfinished. Whether or not you should be up there, I recommend checking it out at least once. The architects have informed me there are big plans for the roof including built-in wooden benches, plants, and a bar. All of which would elevate the appeal of this hotel both as a place to stay but also for local parties and events.
The closet features a refrigerator, ample room to store clothes, the standard robe, wooden hangers, an umbrella, yoga mat, and Nolitan shopping bags. The second room is quite bare with literally a toilet, toilet paper, and wastebin. The walls are bare and the space feels a little dead and forgotten. It would be nice to have a piece of art or something on the walls to help liven it up.
The all-white bathroom on the other end is bright and beautifully designed. The sink is spacious, the mirror is enormous, and there are multiple lighting options available for you. The soaps provided are from a local shop called Red Flower and they're quite good! There are plenty of towels and robes provided but of course more are available after a call to room service. The shower is large by NY standards and is surrounded by glass. My room was tub-less but other layouts feature a beautiful stand alone tub.
Continuing on to the main area and passing a full sized mirror (a necessity for me), you're greeted by a big, extremely comfy bed with storage underneath, as well as two night tables, a desk, two chairs, and a wall mounted television. The room, like the exterior, is undeniably modern and youthful yet still feels very comfortable, welcoming, and luxurious. The decor is tastefully done -- a feature I don't see much in hotels. But our highlight might be the walls. There is a beautiful paint treatment above the bed that makes the black wall slightly glossy and look almost like stone. The 37" TV was plenty large and the room comes with a beautiful clock/stereo/radio which will fit any one of your iPod/iPhone units.
And finally, the balcony is narrow yet long enough to hold about 4 or 5 people tops. The beautiful glass guard might be a bit too much for those who are afraid of heights to handle. There is a metal beam which extends a few inches below the top of the glass guard and is perfect for resting drinks on. The only missing feature which would really elevate the usability of this space would be a tiny table and a chair or two where someone could sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning. Alternatively, it would have been nice to see the back wall built out slightly to create a bench that you could sit on without requiring any more furniture.
The checkin process was simple and the staff was very friendly. A doorman is also available to help you with your luggage if needed. The room will have plenty of information waiting for you when you arrive including a nice big directory of things to do in case you forgot to plan your trip or need to fill in some gaps with particular restaurants, shops, galleries, etc... One thing missing from this directory which shocked us is a guide to the television channels. The only way to find the channels right now is currently through the TV's onscreen menu navigation which is both slow and tedious to use. This was a major drawback to us when using the TV which is otherwise high quality and features both standard and HD stations as well as HBO.
During my stay I ordered numerous things from room service such as an iPad, board games, an extra toothbrush, and tooth paste. Everything was delivered promptly and exactly as I had requested. When room service is cleaning your room, you're able to refuse the service to change your sheets and towels if you wish to conserve energy and water. This is another smart and ecofriendly option which many hotels have adopted. One feature which left me a bit puzzled was a daily card describing the weather forecast for the day that is left on your bed. The card is beautifully designed and the information is of course very helpful but to repeat this task for each occupied hotel room every day seemed a bit unnecessarily wasteful, particularly when the hotel was attempting to be more ecofriendly elsewhere. Having some kind of app which displays the weather on the TV screen, or having an automatic emailing system so the weather is available on your phone when you wake up, or even having a small chalk board which can be erased and reused might be smarter.
One noticeable element to the room was how noisy it was. Remember when I said you will get an authentic downtown NY experience? Well this is part of it. Since the hotel is situated on Kenmare, a main thoroughfare that reaches all the way down to the Williamsburg bridge, traffic and all of its unpleasant noises is an unavoidable beast. Even on one of the highest floors with the balcony door closed, it was still fairly loud. Mind you, it is easy to carry on a conversation, watch TV, listen to music, and do anything else you might want to do. But it certainly isn't silent by any means inside the room. This might bother some more than others so it is worthwhile to note.
Another "authentic" NY element is the implied voyeurism within the rooms. Although the majority of the windows are distorted with beautiful etched glass, there are some that remain selectively transparent. In my room the transparent window was the one which not only aligned perfectly with the bed, but straight on through to the glass shower as well. Of course there are curtains shoved to the sides of the wall (there is one against the shower as well) that can provide privacy if need be, but the obvious intent is for them to be left open so you can enjoy watching NY while you wash up or relax in bed (and perhaps vice-versa.)
Lastly, there is a minor point which made me a bit disappointed. As you can see in the photos the room comes complete with a desk and desk chair -- a white Eames with an eiffel base. Not so. Upon sitting in the chair I knew instantly the quality was not on par with an Eames. I flipped it over and realized it was missing any kind of authenticity stamp from the manufacturer. Although this isn't a huge detail and didn't detract from my stay, I was curious as to why a hotel which is obviously design-minded and would attract that kind of clientele, would furnish their rooms with cheap knockoffs of the real thing. Not being one to support fakes, I was a bit disappointed by that decision.
Location is excellent for the traveler looking to be immersed in downtown NY
Beautiful building and material choices
Numerous and unique amenities
Attention to eco-friendly solutions
A lot of street noise
Roof is unfinished
Not for families
Location isn't touristy
Excessive glass might leave visitors feeling overexposed
Questionable design decisions like the empty water closet or fake Eames
The Nolitan Hotel
30 Kenmare St.
NY, NY 10012
T: +1 212 925 2555