Between about 2010 and 2013, my father had an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York. Free accommodation (on the 31st floor of the glorious Trump Palace, no less!) was a dream come true – and everything I saved on hotels, I used to fuel my shopping habit, heading to New York two or three times a year with an empty suitcase, and coming back with entire new wardrobes courtesy of SoHo’s boutiques, Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters and Madewell. Oh, and about half a stone heavier, following the countless Magnolia Bakery cakes I polished off!
Unfortunately our days at Trump Palace were numbered, and for my last visit to NYC I was forced to make other arrangements. I objected to paying a lot, but I wasn’t going to completely slum it – so hours of digging about on LastMinute.com ensued – and turned up this little gem: The Jane Hotel, in the West Village. Adjacent to the Meatpacking District and walking distance from Chelsea, SoHo and Union Square, the location is killer. And the reason I decided to review The Jane now? Because Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel really reminds me of the styling and eccentricity of The Jane, and I wanted to reminisce!
In 1912, the property (designed by William A Boring, the architect behind the immigrant stations at Ellis Island) sheltered survivors of the Titanic disaster, and later became a sailors’ haven in the twenties, with cabin-like rooms. Fast forward a fair few years to 2008, and hospitality veterans Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gave The Jane a new lease of life and a complete makeover, turning it into a unique 159-room micro hotel for young travellers with “more dash than cash”. That’s me I guess?
MacPherson (whose portfolio includes New York’s Bowery and Maritime Hotels and the Waverly Inn restaurant) says, “So many young people have a romanticized notion of bohemian New York, but have trouble finding it these days. Virtually all new Manhattan hotels seem to be versions of each other – high-end design palaces. By restoring the landmark hotel, rather than renovating it, we hope to resurrect an authentic slice of idiosyncratic New York.”
Rooms at The Jane are the perfect balance of pod hotel efficiency and the lived-in character of a hostel. All ‘cabins’ come with air con, wifi, 300 thread count cotton sheet, flat screen TVs and iPod docks – but they only measure about 50 square feet in size – so that’s space for a single bed, plus just enough space to get your (small) suitcase inside and close the door! There’s a (very nice) communal bathroom down the hall, and rates start at $99.
Though the space is limited, it is cleverly utilised – with luggage racks above and under the bed, and hooks all along the wall, to pack maximum convenience into minimal space, with a distinct ‘luxury train cabin’ feel about it. If you’re really scrimping, opt for the Bunk Bed Cabin and share with a friend – similar to the standard cabins in size, the bunk bed cabins can accommodate two travellers who don’t mind getting extremely cozy!
For those willing to splurge, you can get a Captain’s Cabin, which is larger and has a private bathroom and river views or private terraces. But I didn’t need one of those – I was there to shop, not sit around in my hotel!
Since rooms are so tiny you couldn’t possibly socialise in them, it’s just as well the communal spaces are so fantastic. The Jane Ballroom comprises an intimate bar, lounge and upstairs mezzanine level, and is furnished with a huge amount of art and antiques: An elaborate fireplace was salvaged from Belgium; vintage tiles around the entryways were found in Argentina; a mirror framed with animal horns hails from Scotland; there are stuffed peacocks and a monkey in the bar; and wall art mixes pieces from India, auctions, and local artists.
And for meals? Café Gitane on the ground floor overlooks the Hudson and features casual café fare with French, Moroccan and Australian influence, with a full bar housed in a vintage apothecary cabinet and outdoor tables with sunset views.
Those who want to save money for shopping, without scrimping on style.
Yes my room was titchy and boiling hot, and I got woken up in the night by the creaky pipes, BUT it was totally worth it for the achingly cool style, ambience and location.
Why The Grand Budapest Hotel film trailer reminded me of The Jane…
Mainly the bellboys, in traditional uniforms, and the housekeeping staff in typical French maid outfits. The Jane is fun, rather stylish and a bit of a time warp, and I loved every minute of my stay.
I’m going to a Secret Cinema screening of the movie in ten days’ time – there are still some tickets available here and all reviews have been very positive. I can’t wait.
And on that note, I’m off to Budapest (right now it’s 05:00am and I’m posting on my way to airport) – to another hotel that’s surely worth a blog post in a few days’ time! Happy Monday all x
113 Jane Street, West Village, Manhattan, NY 10014