The Beekman, New York
Located in the heart of Lower Manhattan, the hotel is walking distance from the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall Park and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
It took Thompson Hotels three years to refurbish this 1881 New York landmark, finally opening it as The Beekman in August 2016. They've managed to preserve the building's architectural legacy (it was one of New York's first skyscrapers and has an impressive red brick Queen Anne-style facade) while giving it an elegant, residential feel. The wood-panelled lobby features a reception desk draped in 19th-century tapestries and a contemporary water feature fashioned from vintage suitcases. Beneath the soaring atrium is The Bar Room, a cosy, club-like lounge with welcoming leather armchairs and bookcases full of vintage tomes. The hotel's notable art collection includes several specially commissioned pieces including playful miniature dioramas by Brooklyn-based artist Patrick Jacobs and a vibrant butterfly-filled map by New York native Jane Hammond.
The relaxed, residential feel continues in the rooms thanks to a homely mix of bespoke and vintage furnishings. My wood-floored Premium King has mismatched antique side tables (one wooden, one white marble), mismatched lamps (one pea green '60s-style, one blue Chinese dragon) and an art deco mirror and chandelier. The custom-designed oak bed is swathed in silky Sferra linens and the spacious Carrara marble bathroom features toiletries by Brooklyn-based perfumer D.S. and Durga. The mini bar disguised as an old-fashioned drinks trolley is a cute touch and you'll find all the necessary high-tech gadgetry, including a Bluetooth digital radio, handy USB charging points and free Wi-Fi.
Jumping on the celebrity chef bandwagon, The Beekman has teamed up with not one, but two James Beard Award-winners. Tom Colicchio is in charge of Fowler & Wells, an all-day eatery that showcases modern seasonal American cuisine, while legendary New York restaurateur Keith McNally (of Balthazar, Pastis and Minetta Tavern fame) is at the helm of Augustine, an upscale bistro focusing on French classics. Sadly, the openings of both were delayed so I wasn't able to sample them during my stay but they've since received glowing reviews.
The days of Lower Manhattan being a retail and culinary wasteland are long gone – the area is buzzing with new shopping centres and restaurants. The Westfield World Trade Center is home to 125 lifestyle brands plus an Eataly (the popular Italian marketplace by chef Mario Batali), while Brookfield Place has more than 40 high-end retailers and will debut a new Saks Fifth Avenue in 2017. The revitalised South Street Seaport has an outpost of Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg and will soon unveil eateries by Michelin-starred chefs David Chang and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Throw in great subway connections and convenient access to the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island and you might never venture uptown again.
Lower Manhattan's new luxury benchmark. An impressive refurbishment that's transformed a historic landmark into an artistic and culinary hotspot.
123 Nassau Street, New York. Rooms start from about $US299. Phone +1 212 233 2300, see thebeekman.com
The hotel's dazzling nine-storey Victorian atrium with cast iron railings and a pyramidal glass skylight.
Needing the strength of an ox to open the sliding barn-style bathroom door.
Rob McFarland was a guest of British Airways and The Beekman.