Smyth (pronounced Smith) is in the beating, thumping heart of New York City's Downtown. Its corner position on West Broadway and Chambers Street has it straddling the creative hub of Tribeca and the newly revived Financial District, in Lower Manhattan. Famed Big Apple locales Soho and Greenwich Village (home of the Meatpacking District) are within walking distance. Put simply, if you're in New York for its shops, art galleries, restaurants and general cool, this is the place to be.
The 14-storey hotel has undergone a marvellous makeover, transforming a once-urbane ground floor into a collection of cosy spaces – a living room, fire-lit den, library and the Evening Bar. Guests and Tribeca's creative locals alike are encouraged to inhabit the space like they would their own home. And what a lovely home it would be: filled with Scandinavian and American mid-century furniture, lit by retro lampshades and warmed by walls crowded with books, artworks and photography, much of it sourced in Tribeca. Textured rugs, magazine stands and here-and-there artefacts complete the picture without making it look contrived.
Hidden at the rear of the building, the Evening Bar is a moody little hideaway with a backlit mahogany bar that illuminates the rows of boutique spirits and liqueur. Low-slung couches and upholstered vintage settees make this the perfect spot for a late-night rendezvous. One local tells me regulars and VIPs here are rewarded with the barman's direct line so they can text ahead to reserve seats and drinks – a good look when you arrive with guests, and so very New York.
Smyth's 100 rooms and suites have received the same treatment as the public spaces and were completed in August (2015). The Thompson suite is a fine example. It has the modern touches of a city loft with full-length views of Downtown, but is softened with a 1950s-style leather-armed couch and animal print cushions. The eight-seater dining table and mini-coffee-bar facilities enable guests to have in-house meetings and gatherings without having to resort to a soulless function room. This doesn't make it a business hotel. Step into the bedroom and the oversized bed pillows, cotton throw, wood bed frames and vintage walnut desk keep it warm and welcoming. In other rooms, design icons, such as Eames shell seats, effortlessly marry modern design with the retro feel.
Little Park, Smyth's adjoining restaurant, is the talk of the town with a tapas-style menu pulling together artisanal and spring (on my visit) ingredients with an artist's finesse: beetroot tartar, mushroom carpaccio, smoked trout salad. It's one to visit even if you're not staying at the hotel.
From the front of the hotel on West Broadway you can see the shiny new 104-storey One World Trade Centre. At its base, five minutes' stroll from Smyth, is Ground Zero and the profound 9/11 Memorial with its two reflecting waterfall pools in the footprint of the Twin Towers. For more than a decade after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the neighbourhood around Ground Zero was largely off-limits to new business, but with the completion of the memorial in 2014 and the opening of the One World Observatory in May last year, Downtown Manhattan is seeing something of a revival.
Smyth's relaxed vibe, stylish aesthetic and thoughtful design make it an ideal place for both leisure and business travellers to get a feel for New York. Guests in creative industries or with a design bent especially will find it ticks all the boxes.
Single night stays at Smyth cost from $US335 ($440, plus taxes and fees) a room a night, if you book well ahead. Call +1 (855) 880 1242 or see thompsonhotels.com/hotels/smyth-tribeca
Forget the yellow cab. The doorman ushers guests into a complimentary chauffeured hotel car for Downtown drop-offs.
Breakfast is in Little Park restaurant, so it's more expensive than your usual hotel breakfast fare.
Penny Watson was a guest of Smyth hotel.