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Gramercy Park Hotel

by Ami Kealoha in Design on 21 July 2009

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In just a few short years since reopening to much fanfare in 2006, Ian Schrager's 184-room NYC Gramercy Park Hotel has already settled into its own distinctively regal Bohemian personality. A stay feels like a trip to a storybook castle—if artist Julian Schnabel (he's responsible for the interiors) played monarch of a country that includes Moroccan, Spanish, Italian and other influences. With a woodsy scent greeting guests (echoed in the bath products) and a fire burning in the lobby, Schrager asserts his attention to detail and his subscription to the hotel-as-experience philosophy.

From the ground floor black-and-white checkerboard floors and deep red floor-to-ceiling drapes to the cerulean velvet throw draped across the beds, the decor channels decadence and drama, lending a through-the-looking-glass vibe. Stunning and well-curated works of contemporary art by the likes of Cy Twombly, Warhol, Basquiat and Damien Hirst complete the extravagant scene, making the environment more akin to an eclectic collector's house than to a staid hotel.

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The ground-floor Rose bar offers more than a usual hotel bar too, with deliciously creative cocktails—like a Lillet and vodka combo mixed with blackberries and coconut—served in another Schnabel-designed space that continues to attract the well-heeled crowd, fashion types and celebrities. A door policy limits entry to guests and those with reservations, making the high-ceilings, seductive lighting and opulent furnishings (including a massive cast-resin chandelier inspired by a sawtooth fish, pictured above) an exclusive spot to sip a cocktail and have an intimate chat.

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Other socializing options include a private club with a retractable roof on the 16th floor (pictured below) and a Danny Meyer (restaurateur behind Blue Smoke, Shake Shack and several other NYC establishments) restaurant, designed by architect David Rockwell, that's due to replace the recently-shuttered Wakiya (a space that never quite seemed to fit) next month. Or, take advantage of the access the hotel grants to Gramercy Park, the only private park in Manhattan.

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For those who prefer to stay in, the rooms feel generously-sized by NYC standards and offer the same eclectic mix of furnishings (heavy velvet, Maarten Baas' burned "Smoke Chair," studded bed frames) that makes for sumptuously edgy surroundings. Mirrored minibars stocked with faux-crystal glassware, iPod docks, CD and DVD payers and a DVD library provide plenty of in-room entertainment. Offsetting it all, a crisp white bed anchors the experience with a dose of classic hotel luxury which carries through into the clean tiled bathrooms.

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An "Aerospa" and "Aerospace" gym (the first of their kind, though we regrettably didn't have the opportunity to report on them first-hand) complete the property along with other amenities we've come to expect (WiFi, laundry, valet parking) from a hotel of the Gramercy's caliber.

Rack rates start at $495 through Mr & Mrs Smith. Check out all of their New York hotels on their site.

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