A Sunny Delight: Warren Street Hotel, New York – Review

By Carole Annett

1 month ago

Carole Annett checks into Kit Kemp's latest hotel marvel

Introducing Warren Street Hotel: Kit Kemp’s third New York property for the Firmdale Hotel group, co-founded with husband Tim, is a sunny delight both inside and out, says Carole Annett.

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Hotel Review: Warren Street Hotel, New York

A vibrant bedroom in Warren Street Hotel

Deluxe Junior Suite (© Simon Brown)

A baseball-pitch away from New York’s financial district, Warren Street Hotel is a striking blue steel-framed building topped with a concrete burst of sunshine. ‘Like a summer’s day,’ according to Kit Kemp whose eponymous design studio is responsible for all Firmdale properties. Following sister hotels The Crosby in Soho and The Whitby in Midtown, Warren Street in TriBeCa has taken four years to morph from deserted parking lot into a 69-room celebration of contemporary design.

It feels exciting and stimulating from the moment you step inside: Warren Street is a design journey as well as a wonderfully cosseting stay. ‘The lobby has to have an instant personality,’ says Kit. And so it does – like staying in the house of an art-lover, back from globe-trotting travels collecting pictures, objets and intriguing sculpture. The hotel features over 1,000 carefully chosen artworks, and in the lobby alone find Christopher Kurtz’s Skipping Stone table, woven towers by Argentine artist Cristián Mohaded (cascading from above like jewels from a giant’s earlobe) and a masterful artwork by the ‘Bead King of Uganda’, Sanaa Gatejaa. This is Firmdale’s style, a feast for the eye at every turn and something different to enthrall each time at every visit.

The lobby in Warren Street Hotel

The lobby (© Simon Brown)

Upstairs, my room is one of 69 and larger than usual for a city hotel, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of lower Manhattan and the Hudson River leaving you in no doubt where you are in the world. Opening cupboards which immediately light up from within, I discover a mini bar (with fresh milk – hurrah), Nespresso machine and kettle. On a sideboard is a vinyl player accompanied by a clutch of albums to suit different moods. Kit has lavished the bedrooms with fabric – beautiful, punchy and colourful, using juxtaposing patterns which look fabulous on a skyscraper headboard over the superking bed, upholstered armchairs, a footstool and curtains. The bathroom is framed in black-and-white marble with a double sink, walk-in shower and indulgent, stand-alone bath plus lots of thick, white towels and generous robes. Housekeeping is so on it, I actually asked for the bed not to be changed every day as it seemed OTT, but they clearly couldn’t resist and clean towels kept arriving twice a day.

Tribeca has plenty of eateries but it’s hard not to be lured into Warren Street’s brasserie. I loved it, heading in for countless coffees as well as drinks before (and often after) dinner. You can perch on stools at the stainless steel bar or relax at one of the cafe-style tables. There’s a buzzy atmosphere with a mix of people visiting for both business and pleasure. Again, Kit’s talent for pattern and craft creates a stimulating ambience. A sculpture by Gareth Devonald Smith runs the length of the bar, draped like a set of prehistoric gnashers from the ceiling, and amongst the play of pattern and colour on seating, I noticed a cute little kiss motif on the back of each chair.

The Orangery Restaurant

The Orangery (© Simon Brown)

The 150-cover brasserie serves food all-day, classic dishes spiced with global influences, all served on Tall Trees tableware, Kit’s design for Spode. I can vouch for the breakfast pancakes and French toast with caramelized apple – delicious. The Orangery, adjacent to the bar, is an over-spill for dining and closed off for events. Here, Kit has brought the outside in with two enormous leafy chandeliers and a series of quirky ceramic pots decorated with a mushroom theme by British artist Martha Freud, illuminated and displayed within individual nooks painted orange against a white wall along the breadth of the room. Another ceramicist, Robina Jack’s work is displayed on a dresser. Her plates featuring whimsical animals so inspired Kit she created a wallpaper which can be spotted through the pantry door as serving staff go to and fro.

After a day of sightseeing or when you’re in need of downtime, the sitting room is an ideal place to flop. Cocooning and cosy, it features a fireplace and well-stocked honesty bar. ‘I wanted this room to embrace you,’ says Kit. ‘We chose warm shades including red and navy and it’s all about texture’. A library table sits in front of a vintage cupboard painted with Bloomsbury-style playfulness by Tess Newell while three wooden sculptures depicting famous explorers, commissioned from Henry Neville Wood, sit on a sideboard presiding over the room. In prime position is a Gary Bunt painting, brought to Kit’s attention by the Saatchi Gallery as it included one of her fabrics, Moondog. ‘It was like a Eureka moment,’ says Kit, ‘we felt it had to come here’.

The bar at Warren Street Hotel

The bar (© Simon Brown)

The Final Word

Kit has created another Firmdale gem with the Warren Street Hotel and it was a pleasure to experience it in its infancy. Her commitment to not just comfort, but the very best in art, design and creativity, is what sets her apart. Stay here and it wouldn’t matter if New York was having a grey day: at Warren Street, there’s so much to delight, you can’t help but feel a sunny disposition.


Rooms at Warren Street Hotel (86 Warren St, Tribeca, New York, NY 10007) start from $925 USD. firmdalehotels.com