The Roxy Hotel, in New York’s buzzy Tribeca neighbourhood, is here to entertain. Music is its lifeblood, from the foot-tapping rhythms of basement jazz club the Django to the soulful beats that fill the atrium above the iconic brick-backed lounge stage. Add in a cinema screening retro films, one of the city’s favourite coffee merchants and craft cocktails at Paul Sevigny’s nightclub, and it’s no wonder the creative set flock here like it’s New York’s communal living room. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be lonely.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £188.98 ($228), including tax at 14.75 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of $3.50 per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $40.11 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include a glass of champagne on arrival. But exclude breakfast ($18 for Continental, $20 for American, or choose from the à la carte menu), and a nightly room tax of $7 for the Penthouse, $5.50 for suites, and $3.50 ofr standard rooms.
The 99-seat Roxy Cinema plays independent, foreign and classic films throughout the week, and there’s a concession stand with retro popcorn maker outside. At weekends it’s free for hotel guests; the kids’ film is at 12 noon and then there’s a New York classic shown at 4.30pm. To zip along the cobbles of Tribeca and beyond, just ask to borrow a bike from the fine-looking fleet of Priority Classic bicycles. They’re available in spring, summer and autumn (and trust us, if you value having feeling in your fingertips, you wouldn’t want one in winter). If you're arriving with a four-legged friend (the hotel is extremely accommodating), take a short walkies for free access to the dog park at sister hotel Soho Grand, where pups lap up the fire-hydrant water stations and, we assume, admire the Rebecca Cole-designed surroundings.
At the hotel
Nightclub, cinema, coffee shop, cocktail lounge, 24-hour fitness room, laundry service, free WiFi throughout. In season, bikes are free to hire. In rooms: Samsung Smart TV and DVD player, Bluetooth-enabled Tivoli radio, Smeg fridge and gourmet minibar, Liquor Cabinet-curated cocktail-making, tea- and coffee-making facilities, free bottled water and C.O. Bigelow bath products. TEAC record players with a selection of vinyl and Marshall speakers are in Studio rooms, Suites and the Penthouse. Suites also have Nespresso coffee machines.
Our favourite rooms
It’s worth plumping for a Studio or Suite for the lovingly picked vinyl, record player and Marshall speaker, and the extra space you’ll need for all that booty-shaking. The marble-walled Penthouse is the entertainer’s domain, with a monster 60-inch TV, and panoramic views of downtown Manhattan from the living room, dining room, and private roof terrace.
There’s no spa on-site, but the Roxy has a partnership with Aire Ancient Baths, a few minutes’ walk away on Franklin Street. There, relax away from the city that rarely lets you; perhaps with the signature two-hour escape, which includes 90 minutes of ‘oohs and aahs’ in swelteringly hot and soothingly cool thermal pools and a recuperating rest on heated marble stones. For a pre jazz spruce up, pay a visit to Blackstones hair salon, which is handily in the hotel itself.
Pack your dancing shoes and a second pair, just in case the first gets worn out. No need for end-of-night flats, as a flop into bed is only ever a lift (OK, elevator, if you must) ride away. If you’re in a room with turntables, bring your favourite LP to rock out to.
All communal spaces and guest rooms are accessible by ramp or elevator. There are 11 wheelchair-user-friendly King Superior rooms, with bathroom handrails and shower chairs provided.
All ages are welcome. Cots can be added to all rooms and potties, highchairs and toys are provided. Babysitting is $30 an hour for one or $35 an hour for two children, for a minimum of four hours (must be booked in advance).
You’re always within earshot, but snaffle the best view of the band with a front-row table in the lounge.
Up-dos and sequin-spangled flapper fashion for ladies; snug slacks and braces for gents, with wingtips, naturally.
Take your pick of the low-slung leather chairs and deep-red velvet booths in the sociable Roxy Bar, which opens into the cavernous atrium and brick-walled live-music lounge. Head chef Lucia Piscopo is the mastermind behind the American favourites at lunch and dinner, including brick chicken, lobster mac and cheese, and house-cut strip steak with Yukon gold potatoes. At weekends, brunch takes centre stage with a buffet of pancakes, waffles and much else besides, plus bottomless cocktails for a $20 supplement. For late-night munchies fill up at the Django; the menu features finger-licking light bites, satisfying sandwiches, and a creamy New York cheesecake. There's something fishy going on at the Oyster Bar which has vintage shell sconces and scaled walls. Fresh fare is delivered daily from local fishermen in nearby waters. Pull up a bar stool at happy hour and tuck into $1 oysters (or whatever else is on ice that day) while enjoying Beatrice cocktail and live music.
A night out is a night in at the Roxy. Kick off with cocktails, either out in the lounge or behind paned glass in the intimate bar area itself. House offerings include the signature Roxy (a zingy blend of rum, sour cherry, cinnamon, lime and pineapple) and the Gibson (gin, vermouth and beetroot-pickled onion) among others in an all-star cast. Downstairs, other-worldly jazz club the Django beckons, an engrossing throwback to the swinging sixties in a subterranean boîte. Paint peels from the vaulted ceiling, vintage lamps provide a brassy glow, and each night a revered line-up of artists set those beats that you understand without knowing quite how. Next up, a late, late show at Paul’s Cocktail Lounge, hung with tropical art by New York’s John Smith – the Chloe Sevigny-designed staff uniforms secure its street cred. When the disco ball rises, you know the party’s just getting started.
Breakfast is 7am–11am, lunch is 11am–4pm, dinner is 4pm–11pm. Brunch is 11am-4pm at weekends. Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee is open from 6.30am–7pm every day. At the Django, food is served till 2am on Tuesdays to Thursdays, till 4am Friday and Saturday.
The full breakfast menu can be served in your room from 6am to 11am every day.
The Roxy sits between 6th Avenue and Church Street at the north end of Tribeca. Look out for the cast-iron standing clock on the corner, and the blazing tube light sign above the entrance.
LaGuardia and Newark airports are both less than half an hour away if the traffic gods are smiling. Getting to the big daddy, JFK, takes roughly 45 minutes and costs around $70 in a cab, or the hotel can arrange transfers, on request. The approach is filled with iconic sights, whichever direction you arrive from.
The closest subway stations are Canal Street and Franklin Street, both are one block or a two-minute walk away. They have routes up and down the West Side, but several other lines run from stations within a 10-minute walk. Proper choo-choos depart Grand Central Terminal (a 20-minute subway ride away) for upstate New York and Connecticut, or Penn Station (10 minutes away by subway) for New Jersey, Long Island and other places far and wide.
There are options aplenty for hiring cars in the city, but you usually get a better deal picking up at the airport. A 24-hour stay in the car park opposite the hotel costs $55 for normal-sized cars or $65 for SUVs.
Worth getting out of bed for
Ramble along the cobblestone streets of Tribeca (a portmanteau of Triangle Below Canal Street), a storied neighbourhood laden with industrial-era warehouses converted into A-list loft apartments and countless culinary temptations; the fire station out of Ghostbusters is here too. The Freedom Tower with its lofty obervatory and 9/11 Memorial are 13 blocks or 15 minutes’ walk away. In the other direction, there are designer collections at Opening Ceremony and Totokaelo, and Stadium Goods is a slam dunk for fans of limited-edition trainers. In nearby SoHo there’s a who’s who of fashion houses and high-street brands; ask at the hotel for a full list of recommendations. For culture that’s more boutique than blockbuster, try The Drawing Center and Catherine Ahnell art galleries in SoHo, or thought-provoking ‘object journalism’ at Mmuseumm (not a typo, promise).
The neighbourhood's Nobu may have moved to Broadway, but you won't want for fine Japanese fare. Intimate Azabu has a sushi counter menu and a table menu – hand the reigns over to the chef for the omakase dinner for toro tastings, miso-glazed king crab and seasonal sashimi. The tiny Atera on Worth Street presents some of the finest fine dining in a meticulously prepared tasting menu packed with creative flavours. One of the city’s most-lauded burgers is at time-honoured The Odeon, although another red-meat institution, Minetta Tavern, is a worthy competitor for bloodthirsty diners willing to go slightly further afield. For pancake stacks and indulgent comfort food, Bubby's on Gansevoort Street is your best bet.
In the hotel itself, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee serves up a strong cup of Caribbean joe and vegan pastries on-the-go. For brunch, try Two Hands on Mott Street, an Aussie-owned café and restaurant with a loyal community following for its toast topped with chilli-laced smashed avocado or beet-cured salmon. Maison Kayser on Greenwich Street is an authentic boulangerie with artisan breads and sumptuous pastries. Tribeca lunch favourite Café Clementine crafts hearty, no-fuss sandwiches and salads, and sweeteners including soft-baked cookies with molasses.
Cocktails are king in this part of town. B Flat on Church Street has live music and expert mixology in a Tokyo-inspired underground den. Smith & Mills, in a converted carriage house on N Moore Street, has a candlelit Thirties feel and tufted banquette seating. Pull up stools and sip down beautiful bitter cocktails at Weather Up on Duane Street, where subway tiles line the walls and half-shell oysters line many a stomach. For a top tipple in refined surroundings, try the Brandy Library (also on N Moore Street) and its range of hard-to-find spirits paired with upscale small plates.
The wedding invitation explains that the Friday night of this three-day extravaganza in New York involves going to an ‘immersive theatre event set in the heady 1920s’.
Having spent two years living in Shanghai where every other night was some Twenties-themed fancy-dress affair with questionable jazz and endless art deco, to say we were done with that period would be an understatement.
I can’t face more eye rolling, though, so I keep our destination, the Roxy Hotel – with its spectacular 1920s movie theatre, jazz club and art deco marquee – firmly under wraps.
As we arrive, it’s a bit harder to disguise: the entrance more resembling an old-fashioned cinema than a hotel. A man wearing braces and artfully rolled up sleeves arrives proffering champagne; Mr Smith obliges with a raised eyebrow, while I take great pleasure in shocking our American hosts by letting 16-month-old Master Smith have a small sip from mine. Is there anything more delicious than shocking Americans?
The champagne is a good distraction, because sitting in the Roxy’s lobby truly is like sitting on some prohibition movie set: all beautiful waitresses and rugged barmen in period-appropriate costumes (rather beautifully designed, it must be said, by tailor Craig Robinson).
Around the edge of this enormous space, there’s Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee, a very hip coffee shop selling organic, fair trade, shade-grown, stir-brew coffee (don’t ask me, I’m an Earl Grey-with-milk kinda gal); a cocktail bar, an oyster bar and a really good restaurant serving classic American fare from 7am til late.
At the centre of this huge atrium – surrounded by leather sofas you want to curl into with a Long Island iced tea – is a stage, where a jazz band is already well into a relaxed early-evening session. There are rows and rows of rooms soaring up above you, all coming off this one central vacuum. It gives the place a very communal feel, with all roads leading you back to the music: the backdrop to everything here.
Up in the room, Mr Smith is onto his second drink. He’s making cocktails at the well-stocked wet bar (curated by NYC’s Liquor Cabinet), and has punk rock blaring full blast from the Marshall speaker. Each room has a selection of classic albums to spin on the record player: the first two we pulled out were the Ramones eponymous first album and David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Clearly the party had started...
Away from the jazz heart of the Roxy, our room evokes more of the 1970s. With its cream leather banquette-style sofa and mirrored coffee table, I suspect Tony Montana would have felt very much at home here. However, the mountain of white powder on this particular table is the result of Mr Smith clumsily opening a container of powdered formula milk. Not quite as rock and roll...
Three drinks down, and the babysitter knocks at the door and asks if we’ve baby-proofed the room… Mr Smith and I look at each other with horror, until he – buoyed by a couple of G&Ts and two hours of dad-dancing to the Ramones – says he’ll see what the hotel could do.
We’re pretty flabbergasted when a charming man appears to administer the ‘baby programme’ to the room, covering all the sockets and table corners and even asking if Master Smith would like a pet for the weekend in the form of Bill, the hotel’s goldfish. Since he is more likely to squish the goldfish into a pot of playdough than look after it we politely decline, but it’s a lovely touch.
Fast forward a few hours and Mr Smith and I roll back into our new home. At night the hotel really comes alive. We head down to Paul’s Cocktail Lounge where there’s a fashion party in full swing – and this place has some couture credentials: Paul is a New York scene supremo and his sister, Chloe Sevigny, designed the (very cute) uniforms.
We do our best fashion editor impersonations and snaffle a couple of free drinks at the bar before deciding to delay the babysitter and hit up the Django. This is the Roxy’s second jazz club – literally underground – and is everything you would hope a New York basement jazz club to be. We could have stayed until dawn but, knowing Master Smith would be up in a few hours, we eventually stagger back to our room.
Next morning’s breakfast is a truly American breakfast: massive portions and liberal applications of maple syrup. After it, all we want to do is spend the afternoon slumped in the Roxy’s cinema but we’ve a wedding to attend, and Mr Smith is the best man…
Fast forward a few more hours (and drinks) and at some point well past midnight I’ve amassed half the club – including a group of girls I had met in the loos, an 85-year-old guy from Harlem dressed as a pimp, and a group of middle-aged ladies in their Sunday best for the Kentucky races – to come back to our room for an after party.
I open the taxi door and remember there’s a baby and a rather terrifying babysitter in said after-party room who would not be impressed by this rabble.
As for the hotel staff, though, I’m sure they would’ve welcomed us all with open arms. Because music and partying are the lifeblood here, and it infuses you with such energy and a sense of fun that anything short of a good time is an impossibility.
This is immersive theatre at its best, and we love every single minute of it.