T+L Reports: The Lower East Side Moves Up
Finding a hotel with luxury linens in a derelict-turned-trendy neighborhood can be tricky, but it needn't be with the opening of the Hotel on Rivington (107 Rivington St.; 800/915-1537 or 212/475-2600; www.hotelrivington.com; doubles from $225) on Manhattan's thriving Lower East Side. The 110 rooms, with Paul Labrecque spa amenities and Bisazza-tiled bathrooms, are a design connoisseur's dream. Just down the street, the in crowd clamors for a table at Freemans (Freeman Alley; 212/420-0012; dinner for two $55). The haute, game-dominated menu—order the venison stew with butternut —complements the tongue-in-cheek hunt club décor (note the stuffed moose heads). Nearby, the contemporary Silo gallery (1 Freeman Alley; 212/505-9156; www.silonyc.com) is but one of a growing clutch of edgy art spaces.
Freemans in the lower East Side is easy to miss, as it's tucked at the end of a cobblestone alley with only small hanging lights to guide you. Once inside, you may think you have mistakenly stepped into a private hunting lodge filled with taxidermed birds, mounted heads, bookshelves, and dark wood cabinets. Freemans specializes in colonial American cuisine with wild game and meat front and center, and produce from local farms. The grilled Eden brook trout is flavored with thyme, garlic, and lemon while the seared filet mignon comes with sweet and sour onions and mashed potatoes in horseradish cream.
Hotel on Rivington
A high-design (and high-profile) herald of change in a once-grubby neighborhood, the glass-façaded Rivington soars above the old brick tenements of the Lower East Side. Dutch artist Marcel Wanders' white installation Eggtrance leads into a red-carpet foyer and the futuristic ground-floor Co-op Food & Drink; the check-in desk, on the second floor, abuts a salon with a black-felt pool table and wraparound banquettes. The 110 stylish rooms—with ultrasuede curtains, angora ottomans, Swedish Tempur-Pedic mattresses, and Bisazza mosaic-tile bathrooms—are drenched in natural light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. Deep soaking tubs and mini-bars in which candles and massage oil share space with champagne lend any stay here a sexy subtext. The über-minimalist penthouse is (literally) the height of luxury, and an extravagant way to treat yourself—assuming a rock band hasn't rented it out for an after-party.