THE HEART OF TOWN
MIDTOWN MANHATTAN: LONG ON MONEY AND ESTABLISHED NAMES, SHORT ON CONTEMPORARY STYLE AND COLOUR. ENTER KIT KEMP AND THE WHITBY HOTEL.
Midtown in Manhattan is a mecca for tourists and business travellers alike. The area is home to the Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Museum of Modern Art, Bergdorf Goodman, the Empire State Building and flagship stores for luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co., Gucci and Louis Vuitton. It’s also the city’s central business district – the largest in the world – and the location of corporate headquarters for some of the world’s biggest companies. So it stands to reason that the area should also be the most exciting place for travellers to New York to stay. It should be, but it isn’t.
Sure, there are hotels aplenty, but not too many that have been created to surprise and delight travellers with an emphasis on design and style and no compromise on service. The most exciting hotels to open in New York City in recent years have all been Downtown – hotels such as the Crosby Street, the Greenwich and the Beekman have redefined the concept of what a luxury hotel in New York can be and spawned many imitators around the world.
Now the owner of one of those hotels is bringing a bit of that Downtown magic to Midtown. Earlier this year the Whitby Hotel opened on West 56th Street between 5th and 6th avenues, and WISH was given a private tour of the hotel, days before it officially opened, by its owner and designer Kit Kemp. Kemp and her husband, Tim, are the owners of Firmdale Hotels, which own and operate the Crosby Street hotel in SoHo, eight hotels in London as well as the luxury serviced apartments One Denman Place, and an island retreat on Barbados, Rossferry. “I think they need something like this in Midtown,” says Kemp. “While we’ve been building this place I have wanted to stay in this part of New York and when I looked at places nearby like the Sherry-Netherland, the St Regis and the