New York City is truly a sum of its parts. A collection of neighborhoods as diverse as the people and businesses that inhabit them. Whether you live there or are just touring—or simply have “visited” them in countless Hollywood portrayals—the neighborhoods, or districts, are as legendary as they are unique. Full of eclectic flavor and local character, they’re what make Manhattan a one-of-a-kind metropolitan experience. And they’re also what make the Distrikt Hotel a standout property among its peers.
Located on West 40th St., between 8th and 9th Aves., Distrikt Hotel sits at the center of the city’s hot spots, a brief stroll from Times Square, the Theater District and Madison Square Garden, and in close proximity to mass transit. But it’s also in an area of stiff competition in an already crowded hospitality scene. With eight hotels in a one-block radius opened in the past three years, all in the same midrange competitive category, this “three-star hotel with four-star amenities,” as General Manager Jennifer Rota calls it, had to capture guests with a fresh, unique and comfortable design that complements five-star service to keep them coming. “Functionality coupled with a simple and unobtrusive style has been especially well received by Distrikt guests,” said Rota.
Opened in February 2010, the hotel—part of Choice Hotels International’s Ascend Collection—sits right in the core of the Big Apple’s Midtown but celebrates the entire city, paying tribute to its urban communities. The 32-story hotel, designed by New York-based OTTE Architecture, operated by Access Hotels & Resorts and developed by Greenway Realty Holdings, features neighborhood-inspired floors that start from the Financial District on the bottom of the building to Harlem at the top, following the south to north progression of the city. In fact, just the name of the property addresses what is revealed by the design; the Dutch name for “districts” calling immediate attention to the theme, while giving a nod to the region’s colonial settlers.
The motif is primarily introduced through the hotel’s art displays. Large, 8-ft. x. 4-ft., backlit collages by renowned local artist Chris Rubino adorn the hallway of each floor. Composed from more than 10,000 images, the collages feature snapshots of 10 iconic neighborhoods—SoHo, Chelsea, The Village, Midtown West, Central Park, Lower East Side, Financial District, to name a few—the skyline, street signs and local attractions to showcase New York’s vibrant diversity. “They’re the first thing guests see when they get off the elevator on the way to their rooms,” said Rota. “There are so many subtle layers of experiences in each collage that the artwork becomes interactive as guests try to identify different landmarks and neighborhoods.”
According to Rota, that is carried throughout the hotel. “This approachable ambiance is something that is emulated everywhere in the hotel and reiterated in the service,” she said. The 155-room hotel strikes a fine balance between sleek and homey, creating an environment that can best be described as comfortable with a cultural edge. Upon entering, guests are greeted by a chic lobby that features a 14-foot-high “living wall” of plants designed to represent the flora of the city, a hand-carved wooden wall installation behind the reception desk that features the city’s street grid and pendant light fixtures hung to evoke the famous skyline.
“The architects and designers wanted the decor to complement the service and vice versa,” said Rota. “These are great conversation starters,” said Stacy Ragland, VP, Ascend Collection, Choice Hotels International. “Guests tend to ask questions about the design, so they connect with the staff and get the hotel story at check-in.”
Housing just five rooms per floor, each with a larger floor plan than a typical NYC footprint, “Distrikt feels more like an apartment residence than a hotel,” said Rota, “offering guests privacy, so much that the hotel refers to room numbers as street addresses. Even the coziest room, at 189 sq. ft., feels spacious due to high ceilings, large windows and unencumbered furnishings.”
Guestrooms are designed to be stylish and contemporary—and comfortable too—appointed with luxurious touches such as Frette linens and robes. And thanks to airport-grade windows that keep street noises where they belong, the rooms feature the most coveted, and often unattainable, NYC amenities—peace and quiet. “They keep guests well-insulated from the happenings outside,” said Rota, “which is something that has a very positive effect on guest satisfaction.” In fact, this feature helped earn them the ranking of number two among New York City hotels on the TripAdvisor Popularity Index. Dark wood furnishings and a soothing palette of creams, browns and grays create a warm, inviting feel. And smaller versions of Rubino’s collages provide a finishing touch by forming a cohesive design element between the guestrooms and public spaces. As for tech features, there’s complimentary wireless Internet access and iPod docking stations in each room, in addition to a 37-in. flat-screen TV.
Guests can enjoy a light dinner at the hotel’s Collage Bistro & Bar, which also serves a continental breakfast buffet as well as a la carte. New York influences remain at the forefront in the eatery, teaming local produce and microbrews with visual references to the city. Two 22-ft. x. 8-ft. wall installations, also created by Rubino, consist of vertical strips of images taken from the collages on the guestroom floors interlaced with graphics of the althea flower, a bloom once prominent in Manhattan.
“The design not only creates a great-looking hotel, it also helps to make Distrikt a friendly and welcoming place,” said Ragland. “Travelers enjoy the personalized attention and local flavor, which for us, is an all-around win.”