It was with a bit of skepticism that my husband and I watched the new hotel going up across the street from us, on the corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth. The modern Grzywinski + Pons building looked a bit off-kilter with the rest of the neighborhood, with its geometric glass cutouts and sleek lines. Though the idea of having a place for our parents to stay (other than our foldout couch) was nice, deep down we wondered what a new boutique hotel would do to our wonderfully quirky, Starbucks-free corner of Nolita?
Not long after the 55-room Nolitan finally opened (in August), we decided to do a little renconaissance work of our own: to check in and stay a night. We smiled at the idea of staying in a room with a view of our own apartment, and getting the chance to experience the neighborhood as visitors.
Upon checking in, we were unarmed by the friendliness of the staff as they presented us with a cute little pack of postcards from local businesses like Belle by Sigerson Morrison, GirlCat, and Jon Varvatos, offering addresses and discounts. (We were also offered the use of a skateboard during our visit, which I politely declined on the grounds of my extreme klutziness.)
Our room on the ninth floor, done in minimalist blacks, whites, and reds, was compact yet airy, with a deluxe king bed and views of the Williamsburg Bridge, Kenmare Street, and (gulp) our roof terrace. (Bye, bye privacy!)
The Nolitan truly goes out of its way to make its guests comfortable, with thoughtful touches like free Wi-Fi, affordable, healthy snacks (like mixed nuts and Kashi Go Lean bars), and even yoga mats. An in-depth Nolita guide offers advice on restaurants, shops, galleries, and entertainment in the neighborhood–we actually took their advice and tried out a new restaurant for dinner. I loved the deep soaking tub and the local bath products from Red Flower, a Nolita-based botanicals company, as well as the ultra-soft bathrobes.
As it turns out, our fears of finding a generic boutique hotel were totally unfounded. The Nolitan is determined not only to integrate into Nolita, but to really help guests experience the uniqueness of the neighborhood. The hotel has no spa, no gym, and a very small lobby lounge by design—the goal is for guests to leave the hotel and go explore the area. To be a Nolitan for a few days. I can live with that.
The Nolitan, 30 Kenmare St., (212) 925-2555
Guest-blogger Anna Watson Carl is the author of The Yellow Table.