Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kickin' It At The Affinia Manhattan

                                                      On the corner of 7th and 31st

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I am staying in a hotel located on the corner of 7th and 31st in Manhattan, on the opposite side of 7th from Penn Station. What I failed to mention is just how great a place I am staying in. It is not a Michelin Guide 4-star hotel, but it has certainly earned top marks in my book so far.

The wine social hour is from 5:00pm to 6:00pm everyday 

Being one of those idiots who is quick to criticize, slow to praise, It's a surprise to myself that I've fallen so fast for the charms of this quirky little place, especially since I've spent relatively little time awake there.

But fallen I have. The hotel is a successful renovation of an older, somewhat stoic building (erected 1927 - '29). What makes the renovation successful is that the designers at the helm of the renovation respected the old lines of the building and incorporated elements that, while truly modern, did not distract from the timeless elegance of the original decor.

The 5:00pm to 6:00pm wine social hour in the main lobby

Without resorting to the lazy designer's standard "rip it all out and start over" approach, the people who freshened up the Affinia Manhattan did so by bringing in decidedly contemporary elements that, while presenting a juxtaposition of old and new, do not unnecessarily jar the senses.

The main lobby without the wine social hour 

The look is fun without being frivolous.

The ornate ceiling of the Affinia Manhattan's lobby

It is rare that I have ever returned to the place I'm staying after a day of work and actually had my spirits re-energized by the ambiance of the building. So rare in fact that I can't actually recall it ever happening before.

Half of the elevator lobby

It has happened everyday I've been in Manhattan this week. The lobby is the antithesis of drab, alive with a terrific energy. The 5:00 wine social has people gathered in the lobby being, well, social.

The other half of the elevator lobby

The elevators have thankfully been spared the popular brushed stainless steel of most newer buildings and feature what must be the original doors, with a look that mirrors the ornate rococo plaster work in the ceiling. It's hard not to feel like you're in an early '40's Cary Grant - Kate Hepburn romantic comedy as you wait for the arrival of the lift.

The ceiling of the elevator lobby

One would not look out of place in the lobby wearing a gray flannel suit with a stylish fedora, overcoat draped over one arm, while conversing with an elegantly dressed woman sporting a hat adorned with at least one large pheasant feather.

Spacious accommodations

My room is a little larger than the standard room of a chain hotel, but with quite a bit more character. The furniture is modern, and both the bathroom and kitchen appear to have been outfitted by Ikea, but again, it's a look that works.

An extremely comfortable bed

Beds are an item that I am very particular about, so it was a terrific (and very welcome) surprise to discover that the bed is comfortable. Being in the business of furniture, I've learned a few things about beds over the years. They didn't skimp on the beds, at least not in my room.

La kitchen petite

The adequate kitchen has everything necessary to prepare and serve small meals. For anyone who has never dined out in Manhattan, I cannot stress how much more economical it is to dart on down to the Whole Foods on 7th & 25th, the Trader Joe's on 6th & 21st, or even the Costco on 1st and East 117th (as I did yesterday) to pick up provisions. Plus, no waiting for a table!

Sure, there are a few drawbacks to staying in the heart of Manhattan. You will hear car horns, police and fire truck sirens, as well as church bells in the morning. Those are the sounds of Manhattan.

However, being able to walk across the street and get on a Subway train to just about anywhere you might want to go, and quickly, is well worth the trade off. If the noise gets to be too much when you're trying to get to sleep just put in the earplugs the hotel provides - you'll sleep like a rock.

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