Channel your inner Don Draper at the Smyth Tribeca, neighbourhood where sixties ad man style and glamour still reign supreme. Mid-century modern furnishings, dark woods and clean lines are found in the understated and masculine rooms. James-Beard awarded chef Andrew Carmellini dishes out seasonal specialties at a buzzed-about restaurant and the secluded lounge is an ideal den for whiskey-sipping.
12pm, but flexible, subject to availability and fees. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $249.00, excluding 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.
Rates exclude breakfast (from US$25) and service.
The lobby lounge – with low-slung Danish-modern furnishings, an arts-leaning library and cosy fireplace – owes its impeccable and inviting design to Gachot Studios.
At the hotel
Fitness centre, free yoga classes, valet service and parking garage access, free basic WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, minibar stocked with Dean & DeLuca snacks and Kiki de Montparnasse accessories, free bottled water, CO Bigelow toiletries, free WiFi.
Our favourite rooms
We love the airy corner rooms such as 410 and 411, they share a corridor, ideal if you need to stretch out. Both have ample space, modern, polished chrome lighting fixtures, comfy couches and stunning views of the cityscape. You can get this combo on a few different floors, the higher you go the better the view.
Bring your Lomo camera, or download the app so you can take faux-vintage snapshots in the lobby.
Ask the concierge to arrange beauty services for you at a neighbourhood spa.
Welcome, though not specially catered for. Children up to the age of 16 stay free on sofa-beds only in Studio King rooms. Babysitting is available for $25 an hour ($5 for an additional child) plus transportation ($4.50 and $10 after midnight).
Nab one of the roomy booths, with neck-craning views of the bustling street and fashionable fellow diners.
Just-from-a-gallery-tour downtown chic
Little Park restaurant is the latest see-and-be-seen hot spot from chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini. The inventive farm-to fork menu emphasizes bright, Mediterranean flavors paried with progressive domestic wines and the the chef's own custom North Fork IPA (the house-made bread is created from the beer's spent grain). Although specific dishes will change with the seasons, expect raw and cured specialties, local vegetables, pastas, seafood and fire-roasted meats on offer. We'd campaign to keep both the pearly Peconic Bay scallops and silky butternut squash with creamy Vermont burrata on the menu year-round.
Sleek and secluded, the Evening Bar is the quintessential downtown drinks den for lingering over a craft cocktail or a perfectly mixed Manhattan, against the backdrop of a bold urban mural depicitng Tribeca then and now.
The restaurant is open until 10pm; sip cocktails at Evening Bar from 6pm to 12pm Monday through Wednesday and until 2am Thursdays through Saturday. The bar is closed on Sundays.
Dial up room service at any hour. The full restaurant menu is available from 11:30am to 10pm. Breakfast can be ordered between 7am and 10:30am, and a limited late-night menu is available for your midnight snack.
LaGuardia, the domestic hub of New York’s three airports, is 13 miles away. Most international flights come through JFK, 21 miles away in southern Queens. Virgin Atlantic has regular flights to both (virginatlantic.com).
New York Penn Station is a 15-minute cab ride from the hotel and costs US$15 – US$20. From here, you can catch an Amtrak train to destinations all over the USA. You can head to the Hamptons from Penn Station on the Long Island Rail Road (lirr.org). Chambers Street on the 1,2,3 lines and Brooklyn Bridge on the 4,5,6 lines are the closest Metro stations.
With a largely reliable subway and plenty of cabs to flag, it's not necessary to hire a car, but if you are bringing wheels, the hotel has plenty of parking space. Self-parking costs US$35 each day. Valet service costs US$55–US$65 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
Walk to Bowling Green Park – the site of Manhattan's purchase – where you can get cheap tickets to a Broadway show, and lunch near professional number crunchers. Head to South Street Seaport to grab a coffee, watch the ships dock and learn about its history at the namesake museum. Go to SoHo for big-name shopping, restaurants and cool cafés.
Fresh pasta is teamed with seafood, meat and heady herbs at Locanda Verdeat The Greenwich on Greenwich Street, under the watchful eye of chef and cookbook author Andrew Carmellini. Another Robert De Niro co-owned joint is of course Nobu Matsuhisa's Nobu, which offers his world-famous modern Japanese eats at his flagship restaurant. New American cuisine at Michelin-starred Restaurant Marc Forgione includes a chili lobster on toast points, whole halibut with hazelnuts and pureed cauliflower and orange-scented torta with blood orange syrup and topped with crème fraiche. Creative cocktails and decadent desserts round out the menu. Stop by for their boozy Sunday brunch. Tamarind serves incredible Indian cuisine with fine-dining flair. Aromatic curries, smoky braised meats and garlic-studded rice is served in polished silver dishes. The tearoom menu features assorted cakes, pastries and sandwiches and imported herbal tea infusions.
Kaffe 1668, a neighbourhood java joint, serves up single origin brews made to order, organic teas and sandwiches. The Peace and Love Café makes sandwiches, salads and smoothies in a super-casual setting, plenty of veggie options, too.
Reade Street drinking den, Ward III, has a menu of bespoke cocktails such as the classic French 75 and their namesake drink made with bourbon, apple puree, egg whites and bitters.
It’s summer, and the Long Island Expressway from the airport is packed with New Yorkers crawling home from sunny days on the beach. My flight was delayed, so I’m feeling a little frazzled as I brace myself to be hot in the city. A tad daunted by a two-day schedule of back-to-back meetings, I visualise little time for socialising; although I’ve heard of a new business-and-leisure trip term ‘oblication’ – when travellers mix obligations with a little vacationing – and I’m hoping that’s what this little bleisure stay can be. So there’s my confession. I am staying at AKA Tribeca for work. Conjuring pinstripes and briefcases is terribly unSmithy of me to when you know it’s sexy sojourns we love most to wax lyrical about, but thought I’d be straight with you. Although I fear some of my editorial colleagues may actually bring physical harm to me for using the words oblication and bleisure in one review.
Arriving in TriBeCa (NY’s famous portmanteau for the triangle below Canal Street) on a Sunday night and the downtown district feels remarkably peaceful. Pulling up at the distinguished mid-rise building on West Broadway at the corner of Chambers Street and it is a slick antidote to the chaos of traffic. Smartly dressed doormen magic away my suitcase and warmly usher me in into the cool, dark, loungey lobby. Instantly I can visualise the interior designers’ mood board: a Mad Men homage of suit-fabric swatches and jetset accessories.
Soft pinstriped walls, sharp-edged coffeetables, midcentury modern leather couches and plaid carpet roar alpha-masculinity. Backdropping the reception desk is a cabinet of boys’ toys. After admiring robots and 1960s clocks, I get in the elevator. It’s a ridiculously long amount of time before I realise we’re not actually going anywhere. I was happily daydreaming and neglected to put in my room keycard when I punched the fifth-floor button. But hey, that’s how smoothly things here roll – even when it is finally moving, I can barely tell.
Discovering I’ve lucked out with a corner room is a boon – super spacious for the city, it feels like I have my own Manhattan pied-à-terre. Even better, a cheese platter and bottle of French red wine awaits on the table. Then: ding-dong. It is my first guest – a friend has been buzzed up. I’ve gone from feeling drained at the exhausted end to a transatlantic commute to hosting my own little cocktail soirée. The scene soon segues from glossy HBO production to slapstick BritCom, though, when both us have a go at opening the bottle of Côtes du Rhône without success. I’m pretty sure the strains of us gruntingly trying to tug out the stubborn cork provide interesting sound effects for the neighbours. If this hotel wasn’t built so as to shut out every peep, I imagine they’d be raising eyebrows. Or blushing.
Our mini-platter of gooey camembert and crumbly goat cheese has our appetites for Plein Sud more than whetted, so we head down to meet more NY friends in the hotel’s restaurant. Reclaimed wood panels, soothing Provençal wheat tones, rough-luxe antique tiles, shabby-chic brocantes-style knick-knacks whisk us from the business district of NYC to a rural pocket of the South of France. Squint your eyes and it’s impossible to believe this is a recently opened new build, so convincing is the charming rustic decor. Because of AKA Tribeca’s financial-world location I’d heard this part of town can be full of suits although looking around on this Sunday night is more Tribeca hipsters, young couples and relaxed families. It can also be notoriously pricey to dine around here, but our parade of charcuterie, merguez sausages, frites and roast chicken amounts to a modest sum.
Lack of sleep puts paid to checking out the sprawling leather-sofa’d Toro Bar below, and its matador-accessoried interior. But I bank plans to cocktail with hibiscus martinis on a banquette in the sexy candlelit lounge another evening. Instead of a hangover, my old friend jetlag has me up and at ’em early the next day. My request to housekeeping for an iron results in one being delivered quick-smart by a handsome soul who places it in my room with a smile and that all-American service-industry expression ‘Enjoy’. Well, I’ve had room-service deliveries that are more fun but there are worse places to do the ironing than with the news on a huge flat-screen and downtown views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
What I definitely do enjoy is the massive ensuite bathroom, Frette bathrobe and Kiehl’s products. And a perfect French-style breakfast in Plein Sud. Galvanised by croissants, home-made granola and café crème, ready for a long day at the office, I ask the kindly doorman to hail me a cab for the five-minute ride to Smith HQ in SoHo. Tribeca’s sidewalks are already bustling by 8am: New Yorkers are clearly no slouches when it comes to earning a crust. (Triviaphiles: it’s often suggested us Brits work the longest hours in Europe; in fact it’s Turkey who comes out top of the grafters if you look at the stats. American workers on average spend somewhere between us both with their noses to the grindstone around 45 hours a week. But try get away with that in NYC and it’d practically feel part-time.)
Long gone are the heady days of Don Draper and pals’ three-martini lunches and smoke-and-whisky breaks punctuated by a little time at their desks. Still, after a busy day of appointments I’m happy to retreat to AKA Tribeca for a taste of the good old days: I get back in time for the ground-floor cubby near reception to explode into a hot-pink mock-croc bar. As one would expect from a Thompson Hotel, AKA Tribeca is geared up for business guests galore, but you’re encouraged to mix any work with a lot of pleasure. I’m quite sure the chaps at Madison Avenue’s Sterling Cooper would thoroughly approve of a spell at AKA Tribeca.
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