The Whitby, New York
Kit Kemp’s signature use of mismatched patterns, textures and colours is again in evidence, to great effect
BACKGROUND Open since February, this is the second New York property for London-based boutique group Firmdale Hotels (the other is Crosby Street).
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Like all Firmdale’s hotels – which include London’s Ham Yard, Charlotte Street and the Soho – the Whitby has an immediately identifiable design aesthetic, courtesy of co-owner Kit Kemp. Her signature use of mismatched patterns, textures, colours and imaginative artworks and artefacts is again in evidence throughout the property, to great effect.
The Whitby is most reminiscent of the newest London hotel to open, Ham Yard, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Like Ham Yard – also a new-build – its bright, restful lobby has a loom ceiling installation by Hermione Skye O’Hea and an eye-catching clockcum-art piece. This one, by Dutch designer Maarten Baas, is an ingenious mixed-media grandfather clock, the face of which shows a ghostly Father Time rubbing out and redrawing the hands as each minute passes.
The ground floor is arranged in a loop – the lobby leads to the guest-only drawing room, which in turn leads to the Orangery and the Whitby bar. Staff are warm and keen to help, wishing you a good day on your way out, and welcoming you back with a smile.
WHERE IS IT? On West 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, three blocks south of Central Park.
ROOM FACILITIES There are 86 rooms and suites across 16 floors, ranging from entry-level Superior (31 sqm) to the 171 sqm Whitby suite. Each is individually designed in colourful, homely style and has warehouse-style floor-to-ceiling windows. All offer free wifi, Bose speakers, Samsung TVs, Blu-ray players, minibars, safes and free bottled water. Bathrooms are clad in granite or marble and have twin sinks, walk-in showers (suites also have freestanding tubs and TVs) and Kemp’s Rik Rak toiletries.
Some 14 suites have private terraces, including my 15th-floor dual-aspect Junior Terrace suite, which was spacious, airy and well soundproofed, with blackout blinds, a sumptuous king bed, a desk with USB sockets, a walk-in wardrobe and a full-height case of books. The roomy terrace was a great place for a nightcap looking out at the lights of Manhattan.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Whitby bar and restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The adjoining Orangery is a calm space for a coffee, a bite to eat or one-to-one, with a glass vaulted ceiling and a small terrace. I had a very good breakfast, selecting some luscious fruit from the continental selection along with a filling avocado toast dish from the à la carte menu. Dinner was also excellent, with both my roasted eggplant starter and pork schnitzel main featuring lovely, subtle flavours.
MEETING FACILITIES On the lower ground floors are three richly decorated event spaces – the adjoining Araminta and Anrep, which together hold 90 people for a reception, plus the Reading Room, which seats 48 delegates and can be used by hotel guests. There’s also a 130-seat screening room.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a well-equipped gym on the third level below ground. Michelle Harbi