In The Old Town

IMG_4835Today I was in downtown Manhattan.  And I mean, literally, downtown — in the oldest part of the city that sprang up along the water.

Although the wide boulevards and clean, rectangular grids of midtown and uptown New York City are nice, I like the downtown area.  I like the street names, like Wall Street and Beaver Street and Water Street, that tell you something about where the streets are and what kind of business occurred there back in colonial times.  I like the fact that the streets run every which way and the intersections make no sense and the buildings seem like they are on top of each other.  I like the crowded and chaotic feel of the place.

New York is huge and bustling, with skyscrapers seemingly on every corner.  It’s one of the biggest of the big cities, but when I am downtown I feel like I get a glimpse of the small town on an island from which the big city grew.

Stripped-Down And Uber-Cool

IMG_4832I’m in Manhattan today.  This trip, I’m staying at a new hotel, the Andaz Wall Street.  It’s been something of a revelation.

Normally I like older hotels, but what I really search for is a reasonably priced hotel within walking distance of my destination for the day.  The Andaz fits the bill — and happens to be ultra-modern and ultra-cool, besides.

IMG_4833My room looks like it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a feng shui rush.  The sleeping area is all blonde wood against a dark wood floor, with a bed that is low to the ground.  The light fixtures are metal frames with a canvas covering, and the reading chair and desk chair are of sharp, contemporary design.

The feeling is bright and open and airy, and there’s not a bit of clutter to be found — except when the weary traveler lets his bags drop to the floor with a clunk.

The bathroom area also is striking — a huge, black, walk-in shower where you can take three steps in any direction before hitting a tiled wall and a separate bathtub with a large window looks out over the sleeping area.  (My Midwestern sensibilities suggest that the reason for this configuration is to allow a bather to watch the big-screen TV in the bedroom.)  The sink and vanity area are in a separate room, and the sink is a glass bowl.

IMG_4828There are some other interesting aspects to the room, too.  The light fixture panels right above the nightstand have buttons that are clearly labeled, so you don’t have to guess how to turn something on or off.  I particularly like the “All Off” and “All On” buttons.  The two “blackout” buttons control the window coverings.  And, rather than the standard hotel room pen that lacks ink or skips when you use it, the Andaz provides a black pencil, complete with sharpener and separate eraser.

It’s all very sleek — and comfortable, too.  After we arrived last night, one of my traveling companions said “I’m not sure I’m cool enough to stay here.”  I know I’m not cool enough to stay here, but I’ve enjoyed this visit and a peek at a different approach to hotel room design.