In a city that seems to have a catchy nickname for every neighborhood (NoLita, TriBeCa, the Flatiron, et al), no one seems to know exactly what to call that part of Manhattan around Sixth Avenue and 29th Street. A few blocks southeast of Madison Square Garden and a few blocks southwest of the Empire State Building, the neighborhood tenants are nondescript costume jewelers, button-sellers to the trade, and wholesale import companies, interspersed with mom-and-pop markets and the occasional martial-arts supply store.
“It’s an area that you pass through to get somewhere else, but I think we’re going to change all that,” says Thomas Mathes, general manager of Eventi, a new 54-story hotel managed by Kimpton Hotels and set to open on May 15. “We call the area North Chelsea.” Which may be stretching the map coordinates a bit, but in any event it’s more attractive than, say, Garment Center South.
I just took a hard-hat tour of the 292-room hotel with the affable Matheson (most recently GM of Manhattan’s Muse Hotel). Although much of the interior is still concrete, it’s already easy to believe that the venue will lend a bit of class to… to… oh heck, to North Chelsea. Thanks to the hotel’s 15,000 square feet of ballrooms and meeting centers, events will be a major revenue stream at Eventi. (Get it? Events? Eventi? Hey, it wasn’t my idea, but that’s how they arrived at the hotel name.) The living-room-like lobby will have a fireplace and lounge chairs, a Kimpton trademark. Other amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, on-demand yoga, and a China Grill restaurant. The preview guest room I saw was handsome in a sort of masculine, neutral-color-scheme way, with interactive LCD flat-screen TV, iPod dock, Frette bed linens and robes, marble bath, free Wi-Fi, and lots of windows overlooking what will be a public plaza maintained by the hotel.
In fact, for those of us who live and work in Manhattan, the block-long plaza (above, top) will be an attraction in itself, introducing a new outdoor hang-out in a neighborhood where there are few such places. A 23-foot-long “art and media screen” (or multimedia art screen, depending on which press release you read) on an adjacent building will display videos and video art, including from time to time events that are going on inside the ballrooms, like wedding receptions. You can watch the screen from the 20,000-square-foot multi-level indoor-outdoor bar and restaurant planned for the hotel’s lower level, with outdoor seating in the plaza. You’re one of the first to see the rendering of the plaza, which was just made available today for the first time.
Rack rates at Eventi start at $299. Book now and you can get a 20 percent discount. And if you tell them that you always wanted to stay in North Chelsea, who knows? They might even give you a seat right next to the fireplace.
Mark Orwoll is Travel + Leisure's international editor.