The walk east on Canal toward the Manhattan Bridge is as one might expect--honking, shouting, people everywhere. This is, after all, New York City. Walking through Chinatown yields sights of locals heading back to work from lunch and eager tourists wandering the streets seeking out the best noodles and shaved ice. Neighborhood tenants buy goods from the string of outdoor markets lining the streets, creating Chinatown grocery stores entire blocks long.
Lively scenes take place on either side of the walkway of crisp, beautiful black and white stone tiles. To the right, a sitting area with couches and Persian rugs creates a snug corner. And beyond that, a room of rich wood and plush armchairs surrounds a warm fireplace. To the left is the restaurant and bar--20 East. Tables with more plush armchairs and cozy divans create a dining area that’s more the style of a lounge and completely inviting, with warm lights and a sleek bar.
Sometimes buildings on the city streets of Manhattan look small, unadorned, and just one more brown building among thousands. However, The Renwick Hotel, located on 40th St between Park and Lexington, and south of Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building, is absolutely charming. As the Uber driver approached the front entrance of the busy street, we were instantly intrigued and excited to explore.
Nineteenth century-old hotels have survived the eras--The Arlington being the most prominent of them all--while bed and breakfasts dot the mountains and neighborhoods beyond the downtown streets. But there’s a new kid on the block, as in just-a-couple-of-months-old-new. The Thompson Building, across from the last bathhouse on the “Bathhouse Row,” underwent a multi-million dollar renovation over the last couple of years, and has culminated in one beautiful, astonishing piece of hotel real estate. The building is now called The Waters, a full-service boutique hotel that is completely fresh and modern, contrasting completely with its surroundings.
As you approach the hotel on 12th Street, notice the stone siding that eventually meets brick. At 20 stories, it was once the tallest building in the neighborhood. And today, its prominence is still as majestic. Beneath the hotel’s front canopy, a row of white, glass, globe pendants give hint to the modern elegance that awaits inside. Through the revolving doors, the floor begins to tell the story of the hotel’s artistic history. Art Deco, rose-colored, stone tiles cover the entryway and continue on into the space ahead, drawing you into the grand, spacious lobby that is open up to the second floor ceiling.
Nestled in the middle of the Clayton area of St. Louis, there stands an inn. Quaint and romantic, Seven Gables Inn is picturesque amidst businesses, restaurants and tall buildings, sitting proudly as a crowning jewel of the neighborhood who some call “mini St. Louis.” Built in 1926, during the revival of Tudor-style architecture, the Inn was originally a building consisting of 27 apartments, four offices and four storefronts. It is one of very few buildings left in the area that represents the development of Clayton in the 1920s. The ivory stucco and wood exterior is charmingly English, and is still beckoning curious passersby to come inside and check it out.
Through the double glass doors of this upscale hotel and immediately to the right, is an espresso bar serving classic Italian espresso drinks, gourmet snacks, and delicious pastries. To the left, separated from the espresso bar by a four-foot wood partition, is some of Dolce’s inside seating and the restaurant’s full-service bar. The Deco tile extends onto this dining floor as well, creating whimsical patterns of three-foot circles that swirl beneath white stone tables and brown leather chairs. This compilation of styling sets the stage for something only Miami, and really, only the Gale, can pull off.
Off the main thoroughfare, and into a more quiet neighborhood, the sounds of a two-man island-style band can be faintly heard, beckoning curious wanderers to wander in to relax and enjoy the sounds, the atmosphere, and the Cuban cuisine. The Riviera Hotel South Beach consists of three buildings in the Art Deco style that's consistent up and down South Beach. Painted white on the outside, the walls are curved, and the floor tile is made of jewel tones flecked with stones. The varied colored tile begins and ends sporadically, creating beautiful abstract shapes -- a masterpiece of timeless 40s art.
I was about to board a nonstop flight in April 2016 from San Francisco to St. Louis, when I got a call from my mom. She was thinking about heading back to work on a project an hour south of St. Louis that we had been working on together for several months. She wanted me to come back with her--the next day. At that point I had been gone for 13 days. Before I made it to the Bay Area, I was at a wedding in Chicago, and before the wedding in Chicago, I was working with her on the project. My largest suitcase was packed for cold and warm weather, and with formal, beach and business clothing.