Hotelier Ian Schrager has once again conjured a stylish, buzzy hotspot in which the beautiful people eat, drink, dance…and work on their laptops. The rooftop bar, with its 360-degree views over the city, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant are not to be missed.
Public, in the heart of the hip, slightly hectic Lower East Side, is one of a rash of new high-end hotels in a district once infamous for its tenement slums. Myriad notable bars and restaurants are within a few minutes’ walk, including Rebelle, Dirty French and Freemans, while Balthazar and The Dutch are just five blocks away in SoHo. Much of downtown Manhattan, including Chinatown and Greenwich Village, is on the doorstep, while Brooklyn’s most fun and fashionable neighbourhood, Williamsburg, is just across the East River.
Style & character
The mantra of Public – ‘populist not elitist’ – is borne out of its multiple communal spaces, all specifically designed to foster interaction. There’s a surprisingly tranquil front garden, plus a large flower-filled terrace at the rear, and three bars, all of which feature large sharing tables, sofas, and even bleacher seating, all open to the public 24/7. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, the aesthetic is sleek and streamlined, employing polished concrete, bamboo and bleached wood. But, as one might expect from the man who founded Studio 54, there are plenty of mirrors, smoked glass and flashes of neon too; the escalators, which whisk guests from ground floor to lobby, are 100 per cent disco.
Service & facilities
Public has eliminated extraneous elements of the traditional hotel experience. There is no reception; guests check in on their phone instead, much like on an airline, or on one of a bank of iPads on arrival. There are no bellboys, but instead a team of youthful, multitasking ‘Public Advisors’ in t-shirts and high-tops, and no stuffy turndown service. There is a state-of-the-art gym in the basement, but, given the party vibe of the property, the chances of it ever being busy are somewhat slim. More popular is the rooftop bar, with 360-degree views over the city and outdoor beds, and Public Arts, the expansive basement space which hosts screenings, club nights and performances.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
The 370 bedrooms are impeccably designed, and utilise the latest technology. Floor-to-ceiling windows have blackout shades, which descend at the push of a button, while Apple TVs and Bose speaker docks mean guests can bring their own entertainment. Bedrooms and bathrooms are all clean lines and clutter-free, almost to the point of minimal, with essential amenities such as toiletries, towels and mini-fridges cleverly hidden in cupboards. While these are not rooms for those hoping to take a long bath or lounge about in a robe (neither of which are on offer), one could certainly linger comfortably for a while… but why would you want to, when there’s a party going on downstairs?
Food & drink
At Public Kitchen, the ubiquitous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has created an accessible but quality sharing menu, incorporating global influences from the diverse local neighbourhood, including corn and basil potstickers and smoked salmon latkes; the soy-garlic marinated steak is a standout. Breakfast (not included) features freshly pressed juices as well as fruits, grains and cereals and an array of egg dishes.
Breakfast is also available at Louis, the ground-floor coffee-bar-cum-grocer-cum-cocktail bar, where visitors can grab coffee, pastries and sandwiches to go, or to eat at the communal tables. The hotel has no room service – guests pop down in their PJs and collect food from Louis instead – and anyone ravenous at 4am is invited to contact a Public Advisor and ‘raid the pantry’.
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