Ivy League Charm without the GPA

3 September 2014
The Highline Hotel
180 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY

10th Avenue at 20th Street. Or, 20th Street at 10th Avenue. Nuances. Logistics. Distinctions. You end up in the same place either way. Your pick. When I was younger, I couldn't always remember which was which and, back then, that could have disastrous consequences ~ you know, before great swaths of Midtown to Lower Manhattan became a bit of a hipsters paradise. Clinton used to be appropriately called Hell's Kitchen. And, in the late 80's going to 11th Street instead of 11th Avenue could get you killed. 10th at 20th would be Chelsea ~ not sure it had a scary name at any point.

Ryan Adams sings a great song, "Avenues" ~ goes like this, "...avenues run one way, streets they run the same, something in the air here, still keeps me away ..." I digress, but it's worth a listen.

Anyway, once you get to 180 Tenth Avenue, you'll find the Highline Hotel. Gothic, with a strong Ivy League university presence, the hotel which dates back to 1895, either was, or is, part of the General Theological Seminary. While sitting in the private, iron fenced courtyard, with a cappuccino from the Intelligentsia Coffee (their first East coast retail outpost, I believe) in the lobby, I swear I heard chanting from the upper floors.

Total old school charm here. Retro tile floors and perfectly worn carpets in the lobby. Black wood, even a bit creaky, floors in my room. Great touches from the buildings former life abound, including fireplace mantels, shelves of books, chandeliers, antique phones and typewriters. These throwbacks to a less high tech world are offset by touches like a Jambox Bluetooth speaker in the room, which I made good use of, probably to the chagrin of my neighbors. Sink down into and never want to get back out bedding, C. O. Bigelow amenities, and furniture that looks like it was carefully chosen at an antique sale to perfectly fit the space, combined with large windows looking out on 20th (Street, not Avenue), made my stay in room 37 1/2 (quirks abound) ideal.

This fine place had only one small drawback - the lack of a habitable lobby. You couldn't have a side meeting here. It's few couches and chairs were well staked out, but in nicer weather the front and back courtyards are more than a positive offset. And, if you're in the front Courtyard, there's Intelligentsia there, too, in nicely fitted out Citroen truck. You can even take a quick spin around the neighborhood on one of the six retro style bicycles available for use ~ each named after an apple in a nice tie in to the orchard that was on the property back in the day.

Oh yeah, and if Billy Booze is your friend, there's a great outdoor bar, Champagne Charlie’s, emphasis on Champagne, which is the mainstay, with oysters and other light fare thrown in for good measure. Beer and wine might be available, but don't hold me to that ~ I'm not always paying close attention once the Champagne gets poured.

Highline Hotel Exterior

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