CHECK IT OUT PUB­LIC, NEW YORK

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

From the man who pi­o­neered the mod­ern-day bou­tique ho­tel more than 25 years ago, and gave the world Stu­dio 54, comes a new “demo­cratic” ho­tel brand, pro­vid­ing pared-back lux­ury at af­ford­able prices.

Lo­cated in Man­hat­tan’s Lower East Side, Ian Schrager’s 367-room Pub­lic lists ac­com­mo­da­tion from $US150 ($198), so “su­per­flu­ous” ser­vices such as a front desk and bell boys have been jet­ti­soned in favour of a few travel es­sen­tials: su­per comfy beds, su­per fast Wi-Fi (claimed the swiftest in NYC) and su­per so­cial spa­ces.

All gue­strooms fea­ture am­ple USB ports, a large flat screen with Ap­ple TV and Bose Blue­tooth speaker. You can check in on your phone (which dou­bles as your room key) and “ex­pe­dited com­mu­ni­ca­tions” are via a state of the art “chat bot”. Rather than room ser­vice, guests or­der on­line from the cafe down­stairs then fetch their own food.

The small Herzog & de Meu­ron-de­signed rooms are stylish and sim­ply kit­ted out (akin to cab­ins on a yacht, says Schrager) with ev­ery­thing you need and noth­ing you don’t — floor to ceil­ing triple-glazed win­dows and touch-con­trol black­out blinds, cus­tom light­ing (from work light to can­dle­light) and free bot­tled wa­ter.

There are no white-gloved waiters or fine bone china but in true Schrager style bags of street cred, in­clud­ing three bars and a base­ment per­for­mance space-cum-night­club where Patti Smith headed open­ing night in early June.

Like the Edi­tion ho­tels Schrager de­signs for Mar­riott, Pub­lic fea­tures large, in­no­va­tive and fun pub­lic spa­ces de­signed to seam­lessly blend work and play. And with Airbnb chal­leng­ing ho­tels in so many cities, Pub­lic is de­signed to serve as a coun­ter­point, pro­vid­ing com­mu­nal venues and in­tu­itive ser­vice cour­tesy a team of “Pub­lic Ad­vi­sors” whose re­mit has no lim­i­ta­tions; they’re there to sort a guest’s ev­ery re­quire­ment. DON’T MISS: A drink in Diego, a mod­ern-day gen­tle­man’s club com­plete with fire­place and top-notch mixol­o­gists. We’re told you must try the Ray de Leon — Bru­gal rum, wa­ter­melon, lime and An­chos Reyes Verde, a green chilli liqueur.

DIN­ING IN: Miche­lin-starred chef Jean-Ge­orges Von­gerichten over­sees the Pub­lic Kitchen where a wood-burn­ing oven and grill are cen­tre­piece to a menu em­pha­sis­ing or­ganic, healthy fare. The pop­corn ched­dar frico with chives and crushed chilli is a must. Louis is Pub­lic’s grab and go, part cafe, part deli, part coffee shop, again with an em­pha­sis on or­ganic, sea­sonal pro­duce.

DIN­ING OUT: Check out Le Tur­tle (mod French), Kiki’s (great Greek fare) and Mis­sion Chi­nese.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Don’t miss the 360-de­gree views from the rooftop bar with large out­door ter­race host­ing week­end bar­be­cues. Pub­lic also has a charm­ing, se­cret gar­den.

CHECK­ING IN: Rooms from $US150. More: pub­li­cho­tels.com.

ALSO TRY: cit­i­zenM Tower of London; Ibis Ade­laide; Yo­tel Sin­ga­pore (open­ing Novem­ber).

CHRIS­TINE McCABE

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