It didn't reinvent New York's downtown hotel scene the way the Soho Grand and the Mercer did—it came later, in 2001—but this hyperdesigned, esoteric 97-room enclave has still managed to up the exclusivity ante in an already exclusive neighborhood. Free-spending creative-industry types—most of them young, good-looking, and dressed to the tens—hang out on the birch-screened benches by the entryway, and in the second-floor Thom Bar (where it's often standing-room-only on the pony-skin rugs). The brown- and slate-toned rooms have platform beds, velvet throw pillows, and suede headboards that stretch up to the ceiling. Frette linens and Dean & DeLuca-stocked mini-bars are also part of the package. Some of the white mosaic-tile bathrooms feel a bit cramped, but (somewhat bizarrely) the elevators have more headroom than a SoHo studio.
Room to Book: Most standard rooms have only showers; ask for one with a tub (in Queen rooms, the 4 series; in King Deluxes, the 8 series, and on floors 4–7, the 3 series).
Tip: Book a table at Kittichai, the hotel's chic Thai restaurant, to dine with the downtown elite. In summer, VIP's migrate from the Thom Bar to the roof and the semi-private A60 club, to which guests have free access.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.