Checking In: The Standard, High Line, New York

“So did you have sex in front of the windows?”

I had expected to hear that question at least once during my most recent trip to New York. I was, after all, staying at The Standard, the hotel that has become somewhat notorious for its floor-to-ceiling windows, which just happen to face the High Line park that the building straddles. (It was featured during one of the scenes of the Michael Fassbender movie “Shame”; see totally safe-for-work GIF at right for a refresher).

I wasn’t expecting to hear the question as many times as I did, though. Over my three-night stay, I must have had a dozen people — coworkers, waitresses, people I’d just met — ask me if I had yet released an inner exhibitionist.

(And no, I’m not answering the question here. That’s a subject for another blog.)

Through a miracle of timing, my stay overlapped this fall’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week — something I discovered after I stepped onto the premises wearing a T-shirt, no-wale corduroy jeans and no sunglasses, only to find myself surrounded by elaborately dressed and coiffed people who were being tailed by photographers hoping to populate their “street style” blogs. I spent most of my free time fretting over this sartorial FAIL, since I was reminded of it every time I stepped out of my hotel room.

But a lovely room it was, as you can see from the shot at right. It’s the second place in a row I’ve stayed that was designed with a “water closet,” which I hope is not the beginning of a trend but with an open floor plan such as this might be a necessity.

I fell in love with the giant bathtub — and, more importantly, with the spruce-scented bubble bath created by Kiss My Face especially for the hotel. I may have taken a bath as soon as I had settled in the room, and if the bottles had been 3 ounces instead of 4, I would have hoarded some for use at home. (Instead, I shuttled home a jar of honey-scented organic lotion, which also is delightful.) The open-shower setup, however, proved troublesome because the bathroom floor isn’t angled quite right, and as I showered I kept watching the water creep away from the drain and out … past … the sink … toward … the rest of … the room. I wasn’t splashing like crazy; any time I’d extend an arm out even at elbow’s length, I’d leave a contrail of drippings on the floor that would start to trickle away. Eventually, I’d end up using at least one extra towel to sop up the extra water so I could at least stand in front of the sink atop a dry mat instead of a squishy, spongy surface.

The other weird thing about the room was the dearth of power outlets. My room had a great little seating area — I wouldn’t call it a desk — that featured a mini-banquette and an adjustable-height table, along with a metal-framed leather chair. So you’d think that’s where I would want to do my computer work — but I really couldn’t because there were no outlets around the area. A quick investigation revealed one free outlet — behind the headboard of the bed, just far enough away from the work table to make it unfeasible to sit on the banquette and work on a laptop that was plugged in. Very odd. And while I enjoy being able to loll around on a bed for a few hours, it’s not exactly conducive to doing real work. I wondered how all those fashion people were accomplishing amazing things, if they too were huddled around the one single available outlet. (There was one spot open on the floor at the foot of the bed, too, but again: That’s not useful, and was only a leftover from when they installed the outlets to plug in the TV and lights.)

So those are my quibbles. (Let’s consider them opportunities for improvement for the hotel’s next property.) There were so many other great touches that more than made up for it, though:

  • The elevators feature surreal video loops that were so mesmerizing that I almost rode the elevators for 10 minutes straight just to see the entire things. (Elevators on one side of the hall show a heaven-themed loop, the others show a hell-themed loop. I asked.)
  • Despite the property being literally clogged with fashion people, the staff was incredible helpful and kind, all the way from checkin to checkout. I had been expecting Hip Hotel Attitude, and was incredibly delighted to be proven so wrong.
  • Especially coming off the Red Flower awfulness, the bathroom amenities were a treat. So much so that I wanted to buy them for use at home, but the only option at Shop The Standard is a compilation of travel-size goodies. I just want giant sizes of that bubble bath and body lotion. (And, OK, the sage mint shower gel too.)
  • I could see the Statue of Liberty from my room. And some construction cranes, which also kept me rapt with attention for a while as I watched them swirl beams and girders to the waiting workers on the uppermost floor of the building being constructed down the block. (I had opted for a queen bed with a harbor view instead of a king bed with a city view, which was roughly the same price.)
  • Another amazing bathrobe. I don’t have one at home, and this one was so nice that I lounged around in it whenever I was in the room, rather than putting on, you know, actual clothing. I still might spring for one, since it’s available at Shop The Standard.
  • The doors were pretty smart, too. I was there for two days before I realized the pattern on the outside actually was an indicator of the room number. (For slow minds like mine, there also are smaller, more traditional signs where you are prone to look for them, too.)
  • The soft goods were great. I love crisp, smooth sheets and pillowcases, and those at The Standard were wonderful. The pillows themselves were the right fill of down — they didn’t collapse into nothingness, and they weren’t overstuffed to absurdity, either. I also couldn’t get enough of the hefty, verging-on-tough towels. (Maybe they stock you up because of the whole bathroom floor thing. They came in handy for that, anyway.)

I never made it to the restaurant/nightclub part of the property, although I suspect Fashion Week was probably not the time I would have best enjoyed them anyway.

WHAT SAM WORE: 9-17-12
The shirt: Long-sleeved linen tunic, from Banana Republic,
with a leather cuff from the Calvin Klein outlet store at Anthem.
The pants: Knee-length jersey shorts, from Uniqlo in New York.
The shoes: Jack Purcell sneakers by John Varvatos for Converse,
from Nordstrom Rack in Scottsdale.

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