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11 Howard Hotel, NYC

Combining Danish minimalist design and hospitality with a conscience

by Julie Wolfson
on 22 June 2016

Located in NYC's SoHo, boutique hotel 11 Howard eschews gimmicks and over-the-top glitz for a timeless Danish minimalist aesthetic. The space feels entirely part of NYC and, at the same time, a world away from the city's ceaseless pulse. Visitors' initial view upon entering the hotel is a calming neutral palette, as a black 1975 Alexander Calder mobile floats overhead. To the left, a spiral staircase (flanked by glass with views out to the neighborhood) leads up to The Library—a space where guests and locals can use the multifunctional space to sit, work, order food and drinks. A few steps away in The Blond lounge (quickly becoming a SoHo nightlife staple) are plush gold chairs, custom painted mirrors, and a long gleaming back bar complete with bronze animal heads peeking out from blue velvet banquettes.

The design team gutted the structure (initially built in 1961) and reinvented the space. It's a collaboration between Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, Space Copenhagen, with lighting design by Isometrix, that achieves the Danish minimalist and urban look. Each of the 221 guest rooms feature oak plank floors, 11-foot ceilings, natural light from large windows, and blush pink bed throws by Society. Stunning artworks (chosen by owner Aby Rosen and 11 Howard’s Creative Director Anda Andrei) are scattered throughout the hotel—in addition to the Calder at the entrance, works by Dan Attoe, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Holly Fowler can be found throughout.

While many hotels have channels set up to donate services and resources, Rosen and the 11 Howard team integrate the idea of social responsibility and respect for the neighborhood into the daily operations of the hotel by partnering with local businesses and non-profits. To achieve their goals, the hotel has a give-back mission: donate a portion of the revenue (from rooms booked directly with the hotel) to the Global Poverty Project, an organization promoting their Global Citizen initiative to get young people involved in fighting extreme poverty and inequality.

In collaboration with Groundswell (an organization founded in 1996 by artists, activists, and educators to create collaborative public art projects), a giant mural celebrating the culture of the neighborhood now faces Canal Street. The young Groundswell artists were mentored by Jeff Koons and pay homage to Basquiat. The work is combination of elements that represent the neighborhood and local history: from the fact that SoHo was the site of the first free black settlement in New York in the 1600s to the importance of the Italian community in the area. Factory machinery refers to the local garment district factories, a dragon for the Asian communities in the area, and a horn-player for the music history there.

Back inside the rooms, 11 Howard offers their unique take on the mini-bar. Guest can order customized snacks for the room from a list of Conscious Commerce-approved vegan and paleo options purchased from Thrive Market. The snacks are delivered in a bag from Lauren Bush’s company FEED.

Serving classic French cuisine, Stephen Starr's Le Coucou finally opened last week in the hotel, with an entrance on Lafayette Street that's surrounded by sidewalk garden—adding a little greenery to the neighborhood. Chef Daniel Rose, who has opened two restaurants in Paris but never in the States, is serving dishes like "all of the rabbit," veal tongue paired with caviar, and quenelle.

Aiming to be an ultramodern luxury hotel and a positive force in the community, 11 Howard is now open; reserve directly on their website or via Design Hotels.

Images by Julie Wolfson

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