What We Love
- 2015 Jetsetter Hotel Food Award Winner
- One of New York's hippest stays with a loyal celeb and fashion industry following
- Seasonal fare by a Michelin-starred Jean-Georges at The Mercer Kitchen
- Friendly staff who often greet guests by name
- READ MORE: Where to eat, play and shop in NY
- The front desk will loan out Guitar Hero, Wii and Xbox 360s for free
What To Know
- Pet-friendly; the bellman can take Fido for walks
- No on-site gym, but the hotel can arrange private trainers, massage therapists, in-room beauty treatments, yoga and Pilates sessions, or free passes to 24-Hour Fitness
- Read up on nearby hot spots in our Consult the Concierge feature
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Room Service
Designed by William Schickel and built in 1890, this landmark Romanesque Revival building became the trendsetting Mercer Hotel in 1998. More than a decade later, the Andre Balazs sleep continues to win guests over with cozy public areas and personalized service. The lobby doubles as a living room, with leather sofas, low-slung coffee tables and a 50-foot-long wooden bookcase stocked with magazines and books (some donated by guests). Once artist studios, the hotel still appeals to creative types and is a magnet for fashionistas, so you might just spot industry moguls like regulars Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein over your morning latte.
Bed and Bath
Upstairs, the 75 loft-style rooms feel more like mini apartments and are kitted out with dark hardwood floors, flat-screen plasma TVs, Bose iPod docking stations and Fili d’Oro linens. Oversize double-paned windows (with electronic black-out shades), metallic-finish doors and interior designer Christian Liaigre’s crisp white-on-white color scheme complete the industrial-luxe look. Marble bathrooms have vintage faucets, organic Face Stockholm toiletries and showers with a high-pressure body spray.
The Mercer Kitchen, headed by James Beard Award–winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, has an open concept, with family-style tables where in-the-know gourmands enjoy dishes from a seasonal American Provençal menu that focuses on locally produced ingredients. For more intimate dining, request a table in the back (the exposed brick, cast iron and glasswork couldn’t be more Soho) and order the peekytoe crab fritters with aioli and basil before moving on to main courses such as tagine of steamed sea bass with carrots, orange, cumin and couscous.
In the Area
Shoppers are spoiled for choice in this part of town, from sprawling international chain stores such as Uniqlo to designer outposts of Prada and Marc Jacobs and Burberry to trendsetting boutiques like Opening Ceremony. The New Museum may not be so new anymore (it opened in 2007), but the rotating exhibits and stacked box façade feel completely of-the-moment. The newly renovated Public Theater is your ticket for edgy new plays, thoughtful cabaret acts and innovative restagings of the classics. Locals share lingering meals at the Smile, a cozy subterranean spot serving reasonably priced seasonal fare. Or opt for a power breakfast or late night steak frites at Balthazar.
How to Get There
I remembered my stay at the Mercer five years earlier fondly. I'd stayed an entire week, upgraded to a spacious, elegant , expensive suite, met at the door with smiles and warm welcome by name coming and going, and spectacular service at the cafe.
But times have changed and so did this hotel.
This time, I booked under an offer from a travel site, so I didn't expect any upgrades or extras. Understood. But my room, just shy of $500 a night, was a shoebox. OK, it's NYC. Again,understood. But the stark decor (brown carpet, brown sofa, brown chair, beige walls, and not a piece of any type of art in the room) made for an institutional feel. Stark design can be gorgeous. But that requires exceptional materials and light, of which there was neither.
So, out of the room and into the lobby. The atmosphere felt odd. For the days I was there, the lobby tables were packed with business men who appeared to be together, carrying on multiple loud conversations and phone negotiations, catered to by the floor manager who shared their language or country of origin, it wasn't exactly apparent. The rest of the staff either disappeared, or ignored the other patrons in the lobby. I was approached and questioned as to whether or not I was a guest by the manager.
All in all, the experience could not have been more different from my first stay to my second. Instead of a treat, I felt like an inconvenience.
Stayed there for 2 nights in July. It was recommended to me by a friend as a nice, small and stylish hotel. All totally true. I had a nice room, very quite over looking the patio. Had a great breakfast and an excellent late light dinner. I will come back to this one!
The Mercer is a swish hotel, in a funky part of town. The common spaces are tastefully done and the rooms, small, but well-thought out in buttermilk and black. Bathrooms are to a high standard with perhaps the best hotel shower I have encountered. The associated Mercer Kitchen is busy, buzzy and full of people who seem incredibly pleased to be there. Although judging by physique, they don't seem to to be the sort of people who eat much.
The restaurant produces skilfully done, subtly flavored food and is to be wholly recommended. Service is not up to the same standard and significant numbers of staff spend their time talking to each other, while aperitifs go on hold, ice and lemon is absent from mineral water and you have to pour it yourself from the large Pelligrini bottle plonked on the table. And there you have the place in its essence, high quality infused with benign indifference to guests.
It's a boutique hotel with some 76 bedrooms, so perhaps no more than 100 guests at a time. However, while perfectly competent and amiable, you never got any sense they were interested in their guests. At no point in my 4 day stay, which involved a lot of lounging about the lobby, did anyone from front of house to floor manager, to waitress, to concierge ever inquire as to whether I was enjoying the hotel, whether things were meeting my expectations or whether they could do something to improve
It's a luxury hotel with $600/night cheapest rooms, it's a boutique hotel which allows you to focus on your guests as individuals, it's part of Ian Schrager's hotel group so they have a track record in looking after guests. But not here. They were not rude, they were not obsequious, they just exuded an aura of benign indifference to their guests.