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Manhattan: Inn at Irving Place

56 Irving Place, Phone: 800-685-1447

Reviewed by: Pauline from NM (moderator), review #247

When: December 2002

Luxury small hotel (12 rooms) in two brownstones near Gramcery Park. Wonderful hotel, great location, expensive.

We spent weeks at this hotel when Steve had to spend one week a month in New York for work from 1997 to 1999. It is probably the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in. The hotel does not have a sign out front and looks like two beautiful brownstones on a quiet street.

There is a restaurant and a cigar bar at the street level. You walk up steps from the sidewalk to enter the hotel. The lobby and the tea room are on the first floor. The tea room is used as the breakfast room in the morning (but they will bring breakfast to your room also) and as a formal afternoon tea room in the afternoon (book ahead - this is very popular). Both rooms are beautifully furnished and look like a home, not a hotel.

The hotel is on three floors with no elevator, but the doorman will carry your bags to your room. They usually meet you at your taxi and carry them in from the street, too.

The rooms are incredible. Antiques, wood floors with lovely carpets, all tiled bathrooms. Silk comfortors on the bed and huge beautiful pillows. Our favorite rooms are at the back - the Washington or the Irving. The rooms on the front are very large - a living area and a sleeping area, but all in one room - huge bathrooms. Lovely big windows onto the street. These are the most expensive rooms. The rooms in front have larger bathtubs. The less expensive rooms are on the back and are all still lovely and large. None of that "big city-small room" thing here!

You can ask for a pot of tea or coffee to be brought to your room - and it comes in an antique tea pot with antique cups and lovely silverware. Breakfast in the room is served the same way - very elegant and fun.

The staff of the hotel are wonderful. Shawn, Suzanne and Russ, who were all there when we were there every month in 1998, are still there. We stayed there again in December 2002 for a short NYC trip. The staff are friendly and interesting but not intrusive. There is a feeling of quiet luxury about the hotel. It is all quite elegant, but not that overly fussy 5 star feel and not so elegant that you are afraid to touch anything. Just great quality and beautiful things and you feel comfortable. When we were staying there regularly, it was Courtney Love's favorite hotel - so it did not have an uptight feel!

The hotel is listed in guidebooks (that is how I found it - desperately looking for a hotel that was not a high rise and had good sized rooms) - but is kind of a "word of mouth" place.

The location for us is perfect. We are vegetarians and the hotel is two blocks from the Zen Palate on Union Square and Souen on University - and both restaurants deliver to the hotel! When your meal arrives, the staff bring up cutlery and plates and napkins for you. You are one block from Union Square (shops, restaurants, farmers market, subway) - but Irving Place is a quiet residential street and you are away from the real business of New York.

This hotel is perfect, but expensive. Rooms now start at $325/night.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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