The challenge: finding a cool place to stay in a cool New York neighborhood at a cool (read: reasonable) price. The harsh fact: if you’re looking for a real hotel be prepared to clean out your credit card, hotel prices in New York are ruthless. What we did: we stayed at The Bowery House, a hostel that combines shabby, chic and übercool in a hip NY area.
We love a good hotel (or in this case: a hostel) with a great story to tell so when we bummed into The Bowery House we knew straight away this one was right up our sleeve.
First of all, the location was perfect: right on the spot where Chinatown, Soho, Noho, Nolita and East Village all cross. Second: the concept and history is amazing. And third: The Bowery House is a real find if you’re looking for a bargain.
The Bowery House is a stylish hostel with the vibe of a boutique hotel. True, the bathrooms are communal and there are only a couple of real rooms available so you’ll probably end up staying in one of the cabins (no ceiling so not for the light sleepers, there’s a good reason why reception provide earplugs). But:the decoration is upscale (Italian marble), the bathrooms have heated flours and rain showers, bath products are luxurious, sheets are made from Egyptian cotton and the towels are Ralph Lauren.
Still not convinced? How about a fantastic living room withbig flat screen TV and comfy leather Chesterfield sofa’s and best of all: a fab roof terrace with Italian furniture (and great views). Ow, and we paid 69 dollar for a cabin, so how’s that for a bargain?
The building dates back to the 1920s. It used to be known as The Prince Hotel and was one the so-called flophouses to accommodate soldiers who were returning home from World War II or those who had run out of luck and had no where else to stay. The Prince Hotel wasn’t supposed to be a place for permanent residence; people slept in small cabins with little space, it was a kind pit stop before moving on, but many guests never left and made the cabins their home. Those days the Bowery area wasn’t a pleasant place to be; it was known as New York City’s Skid Row, a neighborhood for the poor and desperate where gambling, prostitution and lots of other seedy and shameful attractions were part of daily life.
Trivia: America’s earliest street gangs are supposed to be the Bowery Boys (mid-19the century, long before The Prince Hotel was built). The Bowery Boys were the inspiration for the gang that battle the Dead Rabbits in the Scorsese-movie Gangs of New York. The leader was Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting, a role played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
From flophouse to hip house
Since the 1990s the Bowery-area has been reviving and today it’s considered a hip & cool neighborhood. Grill, co-owner of the Click modeling agency, bought the flophouse; he had planned to create a dormitory-style housing for models and actors, but he never succeeded. Enter real estate entrepreneur Mr. Kunkel and Alessandro Zampedri, a former Italian race car driver who survived a spectacular crash in Indianapolis 500. The two had big plans to turn The Prince Hotel into a sexy hotel-like hostel et voila: in 2011 The Bowery House as we know it was born, design and luxury combined with the cabin-like rooms from the old flophouse. The hotel is supposed to be a ‘living museum, a designer experience of the formerly flophouse’.
The Bowery House is a very cool place to stay: it’s well designed and decorated, the price is a bargain and it’s location couldn’t be better. atmosphere is great, and the lounge roof terrace is a wonderful hangout with great panoramic views. Downsides are the thin walls (think: listening to your neighbor snoring) and the small (really small, we felt a bit sorry for the poor soldiers who used to stay here all those decades ago) cabins.
There’s hardly any room to put your belongings, and even the beds are on the small side. The cabins are in fact just places to crash and sleep, the living room and roof terrace are the places to be if you want to relax and hang out in comfort and style. Overall the place is very clean, and the staff is fantastic.
Would we stay here again? Yes, without a doubt, although we would go for the bigger Prince Room: double bed, more space, more comfortable but still very inexpensive. Our original plan was to book this room, but is was already taken. Lesson learned: book well in advance.