The redesigned official Chelsea Hotel website is less cluttered and it’s much easier to use. The focus is clear as well: make a reservation. (We didn't try the registration tool but we hear it's still confusing.) But that’s a little bit disturbing, since it tends to de-emphasize the status of the Chelsea as a cultural institution. People used the old site as much for information about the hotel as for booking rooms.
Of course, some of the information on the old site was false—such as the claim that Thomas Wolfe wrote Look Homeward Angel while at the hotel (he actually wrote the similar-sounding You Can’t Go Home Again)—but BD has introduced its own errors into the public discourse. For the record, Dylan Thomas did not die at the Chelsea: he collapsed here and was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, dying there. Also, there’s actually no evidence that Eugene O’Neill ever stayed here, according to our sources. (And get an editor: the history is clumsily written and there’s even a few misspellings.)
One thing that confuses me it that the site says that the hotel is a “cultural preservation site and historical building of note.” I guess what they mean by that is that it’s a National and City Landmark. It’s odd, since calling it by its more commonly accepted designation would seem likely to increase its appeal as a tourist destination. But for some obscure reason (perhaps related to finance) they don’t want to call it by that name.
There are a couple of errors in the section on restaurant reservations. Neither La Chinita Linda (sadly, since it was great place) nor the Subway on 22nd and 8th Ave (in the old Allerton Hotel, another recent victim of gentrification) are in existence any longer. They were both closed, I believe, before BD even took over the hotel. And what about El Quijote? Though we know BD wants them to vacate the premises, they are there for the time-being, and they have served the hotel and its guests and residents well over the years (70-plus!), so it seems downright un-neighborly not to mention them.
The most egregious error, as well, is one of omission. I’ve searched the whole website, and, unbelievably, there’s not one mention of Stanley or the Bard Family. It’s hard to deny that, besides being one of the chief celebrities of the hotel, he had a little bit to do with making this place the unique artistic attraction that it is today. So give the man his due. What would be the harm in mentioning him?