The Gramercy Hotel used to be a place very similar to the Chelsea, down at the heels and full of bohemians and bohemian charm. But then the developer Ian Schrager gutted it and threw the permanent residents out on the street. Now it’s an art hotel for the rich and jaded. Julian Schnabel, a sometime Chelsea resident (he has a studio here), and the ostensible designer of the Gramercy—he doesn’t like the term “interior decorator”--should have known better than to get involved in this project. But it’s clear why he did it: several of his paintings are front and center in the main rooms of the Gramercy, exposed to the gaze of rich potential collectors.
The hotel does look pretty good, I must admit, a fairly relaxing place to hang out. The furniture appears comfortable, the lighting subdued, and the art on the walls is fairly standard and shouldn’t agitate or offend anyone. A lot of hard liquor will apparently be consumed here, as there are two bars: a large Rose Bar for prim ladies daintily sipping Cosmos, and a smaller, darker Jade Bar (why didn’t they just call it the Jaded Bar?) for the more serious lush. Hey Ian, can we come blog from your place? The walls and ceilings are lined with dark wood taken from old barns and mushroom crates.
The problem is, the Gramercy looks exactly like a million other boutique hotels and upscale restaurants in the city and around the country. No chances have been taken, leading me to suspect that Schnabel was hired simply to lend his name to the project. In the article I read in The New York Times, the author seems hard pressed to explain how, exactly, this place is cutting edge: it’s not futuristic like Schrager’s earlier hotels, but on the other hand it’s somehow supposed to be an advance on the dozens of other “art hotels” that have sprung up like mushrooms (maybe that’s where they got the crates!) in the last few years. There’s an art hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, of all places, that’s more cutting edge than this. For the rich wastrel looking for a fresh new hotel experience, this is going to be an unmitigated flop. My advice is, don’t bother.
Instead, wait until Schrager takes over the Chelsea! We just got rid of Capitol Fishing & Tackle after sixty-five years in the hotel, and so now there’s a huge space on the ground floor that he can fill with Schnabel’s art and turn into a really rockin’ bar. I’m sure he’ll want to redo the present lobby as well, kitschy and unboutique-like as it is. The permanent residents, of course, wouldn’t be allowed in either of these spaces, but what I’m hoping is that, instead of throwing us out, Schrager will let us use the service elevator to the basement where we can scurry in and out through the secret tunnel to less fashionable 22nd St. We all promise to be good bohemians and not speak out of turn and only make acceptable art.
Ah, what the hell. Gut the place. The current rumor is that we’re going to get a Duane Reade in the Capitol Fishing & Tackle space. Whoopee! Maybe we can get rid of El Quijote and get a Starbucks in here too. Death to those who would turn New York into a boring mega-mall! (Ed Hamilton) Related articles -- Job Opportunities for Bohemians; Ian Versus Bohemia