When it won the bid to re-conceive the Best Western President Hotel at Times Square, the award-winning architectural firm Stonehill & Taylor (who have redesigned NYC's iconic Plaza Hotel in the past) again pledged allegiance to good design—this time embracing its patriotic side.
Last night, New York City’s first politically-themed hotel celebrated its grand re-opening after receiving a $15 million overhaul. Centrally located at 48th Street just off Broadway, the hotel has 334 rooms and suites starting at the recession friendly rate of $139 a night (talk about a new deal!), where the term “presidential suite” takes on a whole new meaning—guests can book the Obama, Reagan, Kennedy or even the Nixon suite (don’t worry, it’s not bugged).
Though the grand-opening party surely veered into the realm of themed kitsch, with George Washington and Bill Clinton impersonators mugging for photo-ops, the hotel surprisingly does not.
Bedecked in “centrist purple” (a combination of Republican red and Democrat blue), the hotel lounge somehow remains stylish while being decorated in a way that can only be described as 1776 by way of 1962. Revolutionary elements (is that a silhouetted portrait of Martha Washington?) are creatively blended with 60s interior design (white vinyl couches) to create a look that is completely 2009.
And the designers' overall attention to detail—and sense of humor—is stunning. For example, a white porcelain teapot shaped like Reagan’s face (his nose is the spout) sits on a shelf in the penthouse’s master bedroom, alongside shelves stacked with political biographies. So can a hotel themed around U.S. presidents actually be cool? Yes it can!
Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.