What We Love
- Search for the reception desk in vain. At Public, you check in on your phone or on one of the lobby's iPads
- Stargazing from one of the beds dotted around the rooftop bar
- Public Arts, the multi-media performance space in the basement that hosts open mic events, art exhibits and club nights
What To Know
- There's no room service
- There are more charging ports and outlets than you can use
- Rooms, as with nearly all in NYC, are on the small side
- Free WiFi
Sense that party vibe? Public’s creator is none other than Ian Schrager (also the creator of Studio 54), so if you pick up on a vintage 1977 devil-may-care attitude, that’s why. This addition to the Lower East Side is a hub for today’s club kids, thanks in large part to the rooftop bar and the events space in the basement, both of which draw a cool crowd in the evenings. From the moment you step onto one of the neon-lit and mirrored escalators, you know you’re in for a good time. Book a Great View room for stellar cityscapes through the floor-to-ceiling windows just by the bed. Still, you won’t be spending much time in the rooms, which can be a bit of a squeeze for two, since the hotel’s dining options—including one from Jean-Georges Vongerichten—bars and chic lobby-level boutique are all compelling. But if you want to lounge around and enjoy the view in your jammies, call down to Louis—part restaurant, part coffee shop, part grocery store—with your order and just nip down to pick it up a few minutes later.
In the Area
Public’s got a fabulous, walk-to-almost-anything location on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and there’s a subway stop just around the corner for trips further afield. Pick up lox and bagels at Russ & Daughters, just five minutes away, and settle onto a bench in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for an easy—and very NYC—picnic. For cozy tête-à-têtes over organic wine and a great value oyster happy hour, stroll over to the romantic The Ten Bells bar, ten minutes from the hotel. Meet colleagues for a power breakfast at see-and-be-seen Balthazar…or just come in for a perfectly brewed latte and croissant among the movers and shakers before heading out to the Invisible-Exports gallery to check out what artists we’ll all be talking about in a year or two. The excellent New Museum is also handy—come here to see the artists we’re already talking about.
How to Get There
I traveled to NYC from Nashville for the sole reason of experiencing PUBLIC myself. The reason? I think Ian Schrager is a genius. Schrager is to hospitality what Steve Jobs was to computers. My visit to PUBLIC affirmed that my admiration of Mr. Schrager’s work is well-placed. Legendary.
Know up front that this is not a sponsored review. Not even close. I’m not even in the hotel business. I’m a syndicated radio host who finds inspiration from those refusing to rest on their laurels — I’m drawn to those disinclined to describe something as “good enough”. I want to learn from those who say “what if?” The Dreamers. The Visionaries. The Disrupters. Those kinds of people turn me on. And THAT is who Ian Schrager is.
For me, PUBLIC is a feeling — a pretty damned incredible feeling. (You’ll notice I use the word “feel” a lot in here.)
I’m a lucky guy. I’ve travelled to some pretty amazing places. I’ve experienced things I never dreamed possible. But PUBLIC tops it all.
I arrived in the evening. Walking through the lush green entry was like walking away from the madness of the city. The pathway’s up-lights set the expectation. It’s dramatic. Sexy. Special. Going up the escalators you basically feel like you’re ascending into another world.
There’s no front desk. Again - just because it’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. The whole hospitality process has been rethought, carefully analyzed, and effectively reinvented. The result is an intuitive and easy-to-navigate guest experience. It’s all just so smart.
By the time you arrive you’ve probably already checked in through the website. In my case, I had a QR code sent by text to my phone. That was all I needed. A quick code scan and I had my key. Had I needed assistance, there were friendly representatives standing by.
PUBLIC is a new approach to luxury. No lines. Simple, quick, sleek.
Guests are treated to complimentary snacks and drinks in their own designated reception area. You get access to exclusive areas of the property. You feel special. You feel privileged, and that’s a great feeling, indeed.
Once in the room, you’re immediately struck by the genius of the room design. Everything you need, and absolutely nothing you don’t. I mean, nothing! Pure function. Pure sexy.
A sleek control pad allows you to control the lights - easily dimmed to your preference. The opening and closing of the shade and curtains are one-touch in the same panel. That same ease-of-use extends out to the temperature controls as well. It’s intuitive and uncluttered.
I traveled from Tennessee with a new Valentino suit of which I was very proud. When I unpacked, I was pissed — My new suit was a crumpled mess. But as if my every need were anticipated, a steamer was conveniently provided in the room. Flawless.
There’s a room called “essentials” just off the elevator bank. Your keycard allows entry. Inside is a vending machine with anything you may need — even cables and chargers. Again, everything is so carefully thought out.
The rooftop bar gives you the most unbelievable, sexiest New York skyline view you’ve ever seen. Up-lighting is strategically placed within the lush greenery, casting an ambiance I can’t quite describe. A polished stainless-steel awning bounces the light back down creating a soft, lush feeling. Detail. Detail. Detail. Who else thinks of this stuff? So, so good.
The downstairs bar — OMG. I think what’s most amazing is what you don’t see. I can’t imagine the untold hours needed for the audio and lighting design — I don’t know how they did it, and I can’t imagine what it cost. It was all done, clearly without compromise. The versatility of design is breathtaking. Whatever the need, it seems the room is easily transformed to do what it needs to do. I know people probably thought I was the super-nerd because of how I was pretty carefully analyzing the whole experience. I’ll wear the badge with pride!
I think I figured out why Mr. Schrager named the property PUBLIC. It’s for everyone. Luxury for everyone. The community is welcome to use the open spaces for meetings. Everyone feels welcome, regardless of whether you are a guest or not. That’s pretty cool!
I walked through and got the strong feeling of community. It was awesome to see someone (in this case a property) giving so much to those around them with zero expectations of anything in return. That kind of goodwill will effectively cause you to recommend PUBLIC to those you care about.
The staff is fantastic. Zero pretense. Totally chill, and willing to help in any way they can. I’d especially like to call out Wolfgang Ballinger.
At one point I was standing near the elevator bank trying to figure out a particular art installment. This stylish young man approached and asked if I had any questions. (I would later lean his name was Wolfgang) “Yes,” I said — “I can’t quite wrap my head around how this works.” In a moment that would have made Shrager most proud, Wolfgang spoke deftly of the artwork’s origin, the artist’s background, and how the illusion was created. I was floored. From that point on, I peppered him with various questions, all of which he answered with a level of confidence and pride you’d typically see from the owner himself. And in that, another moment of Schrager brilliance shown through — he has clearly empowered his staff. They know they are part of something special, and they bend over backwards to fulfill every guests need.
That kind of empowerment surfaced once again when I stupidly left my laptop and AirPods in my room. I shot off an email from JFK right as I got through security. By the time I boarded for my flight back to Nashville, PUBLIC security had already tracked it down and arranged to ship it back to me. Within hours, I received the appropriate tracking number.
So I know this all sounds totally over-the-top. And I’ll admit that it is. But honest to God, it’s that good!
Time and again, I was just in awe. It’s kind of like I didn’t know what I had been missing in a hotel. Now that I do, it’s going to be tough to stay anywhere else.
To Ian Schrager and his team — you have so much to be proud of. YOU. KILLED. IT.
Had a great stay at your hotel, the people, the rooms, the location, the vibe.....all quite excellent.
David (front desk) and David (elevator) very helpful and Chris out front was great.....even the ppl in the gift shop were good (and agreed that your T shirts at price at $65 was mental).
But one thing that wasn’t very good at all was your recommendation of Rintintin.....we took you up on it and it was a POS. But good news was Peasant was absolutely amazing.
Sent from my iPad
I've been here a few times and really wanted to send a review this time. This stay was exceptional, better than my past visits. The service was excellent, from the Public Advisers in the lobby (a special shout out to Angel who was awesome) to the housekeeping staff. Beautifully appointed rooms with super comfortable beds. A really nice buzz in the restaurants and bars. A fun crowd. I will definitely recommend this hotel to my friends and work colleagues and you can be sure that I will return. My new favorite spot in New York! See you in three weeks!
A very unique room, the design is interesting but comfortable. The sink was outside the bathroom, but it felt as though it makes sense.
Hotel has a restaurant within it, which was very good. It also had a lovely bar.
I'd stay there again.
I was immediately impressed with this hotel from the second I arrived. The hotel is beautiful and has a great vibe. I was greeted by Sasha at check in who made the experience at this hotel even better with her attention details and helping me get the best room and making me feel at home. Well done!