Something big lands in Manhattan today. Imagine the offspring of a Japanese capsule hotel, a transatlantic first class cabin, a rocking meatpacking district club and you may get close to the idea behind Yotel. Bringing technolicious $150 hotel rooms to Midtown Manhattan (or MiMa as the acronym proclaims), Brit Simon Woodroffe aims to shake up our perception of the hotel experience the way Ian Schrager, “Hip Boutique Hotels” and the W crowd did a decade ago. In fact, sit on New York’s largest terrace and you can scoff at the big purple W Times Square logo, knowing that you are enjoying the standard which others now have to attain.
This is modern comfort, Apple Store style. Where technology is helpful and just there for you without requiring an instruction book, or making you feel like you are in some Asian teenager’s roboworld. Speaking of which, the first thing to greet you after you check in (airline style of course) is the “Yobot”, a giant precision robot arm which looks like it should be assembling a Lexus but is happy enough to be handling your luggage. Everything at Yotel happens on the fourth floor (unless you are staying at one of the rooms with an outdoor terrace and Jacuzzi, or the 1,100square foot VIP lounges with pool table and rotating round bed). There is free WiFi ,of course, but also free computers and a set of soundproof chillax/meeting rooms around the lounge area.
The design was a collaboration between London based Softroom, well known for giving Virgin Airlines its award winning sexy modern look, and NY leisure giant the Rockwell Group. This really is a transatlantic experience, like an airliner cabin that has to cater to all tastes and the need for comfort, yet be modern looking. The last thing NY wants is another Karim Rashid style nod to Woody Allen’s Sleeper or 2001:A Space Odyssey. This is 2011 and the future looks and feels better than it was envisaged in the 60’s. There is no shiny melted plastic, only sculptured, rubberized and fabric furnishing. There is wood, the signage is playful and the end result is welcoming, not intimidating.
With such a low price point and the equidistance between the Times Square tourist and Javits Center trade show crowd, you would be forgiven for thinking the design would be cheap and the food mediocre, but not a bit of it. Richard Sandoval serves probably the best Mexican cuisine in NY at Zengo and Pampano and he has introduced a small plate Asian/Mexican menu at Yotel’s restaurant, Dohyo. Taking the name of a Sumo wrestling ring (where they scoff at small plates), the center benches raise to create tables and lower to create a dancefloor. Ingenious stuff and again, technology that is space saving and completely practical.
Yotel is also directly attached to the new Frank Gehry Theater taking shape in the amenity packed MiMa high end residence next door. Our advice is to forget buying or renting an apartment and for $4,500 a month you would live in the coolest hotel in the city. Imagine fresh sheets every day, your own maid and no more Time Warner Cable to deal with. Best of all, it has to be worth $150 a night not to have annoying relatives and friends crashing on your couch, eating your food and drinking your beer. Now that’s what I call clever thinking.
All images are copyright (C) to Adrian Wilson and may not be used without permission.