If there’s one new hotel that New Yorkers have been buzzing about, it’s the Beekman.
The Thompson property has all the makings of a great Gotham institution: an intriguing backstory, stunning architecture — you simply will not tire of looking at the atrium in what was among the city’s first “skyscrapers,” at nine stories — and a history that includes once being a library frequented by Edgar Allan Poe.
And by bringing in homegrown restaurateurs Keith McNally and Tom Colicchio, the Beekman is a local hot spot, making it all the more attractive to tourists.
The Beekman hotel experience begins as soon as you enter the lobby, where the reception desk is draped with vintage rugs, the first nod to its 19th-century history but one that continues throughout. It took three years to meticulously restore the 1883-built Beekman, down to its mosaic floor tiles, wrought-iron balustrades on every floor and the arched wooden doors to each room, which were individual offices before the building was shuttered in 2001.
The Beekman’s defining feature is its aforementioned, Victorian-era, nine-story atrium topped with a glass skylight, which is what made the property so difficult to restore. As far back as the 1940s it was boarded up, so that tenants had no idea it was even there, due to onerous fire codes.
The property’s 287 rooms are accessed via corridors surrounding the atrium and maintain the property’s vintage feel with the modern touches travelers expect. The mismatched furnishings almost seem like pieces someone collected during various trips around the world. Colorful ceramic lamps add color to the rooms, which by New York standards are quite spacious, and high ceilings and sparkling beaux-arts chandeliers brighten them up.
The supremely comfortable beds have custom dark leather headboards, which match the dark wood floors. And random trivia from Joseph, who showed us to our room: Those headboards are made of the same leather that lines the elevator cars.
A custom-designed cocktail cart enables guests to craft their own drinks, with various glasses and a collection of bitters for inspiration.
A modern room service menu, with items like a Freeke grain bowl, are a reminder that this is Manhattan in 2017.
For clients looking to splurge, this fall the Beekman opened its two Turret Penthouse Suites, built into the turrets atop the building. The duplexes have 800-square-foot private terraces with views of the New York skyline from 1 World Trade Center to the Empire State Building. The 1,200-square-foot suites feature 40-foot ceilings, freestanding soaking tubs and lounge and dining areas with stone fireplaces. An outdoor terrace connects the two suites.
Stepping out for a night at the hotel starts with looking down at revelers in the Bar Room while waiting for one of the two restored original elevators, which because they are antique are much smaller than modern lifts. The bar and lounge are designed with dark wood and brass fixtures and velvet and leather furniture, with tall bookshelves in reference to its library past. The throwback ambience is a contrast to the modernist trend most new hotels embrace these days.
Be sure to have a cocktail in the Bar Room — the bartenders nail the classics and offer them with a twist, like their Prince Gin Fizz, made with orange blossom and egg whites — before stepping into McNally’s Augustine for salt-baked oysters and roasted bone marrow or Colicchio’s Temple Court, which offers a $99 tasting menu that currently includes lobster and venison.
Travel agents say that getting client out of midtown can be difficult but that repeat visitors in particular are interested in lower Manhattan. With those clients, a hotel with the Beekman’s architecture and story, and its proximity to Brooklyn — the hotel is blocks from the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge — can be selling points.
“I loved the whole idea of taking a landmark building from 1883 that had gone to rack and ruin that was going to be transformed by Thompson Hotels,” said Ignacio Maza, Signature Travel Network’s executive vice president. “I don’t think there is a comparable building in Manhattan. It is amazing.”
— Johanna Jainchill