Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never been in a Manhattan hotel room that wasn’t approximately the size of a rabbit hutch. So accustomed had I become, in fact, to comical dimensions, cupboards that opened inwards and views of fire escapes that my 14th-floor Corner Studio at The James rendered me momentarily speechless.
With two walls’-worth of enormous windows, it boasted positively cinematic views of the city below, as well as a host of snazzy amenities, including a rain shower hidden behind a motorised screen. ‘Really, does it get any better than this?’ I thought, reclining in the spa-worthy dressing gown I’d found hanging up in the bathroom.
As if in answer, there was a knock on my door – when I opened it, I found a smiling staff member on the other side, bearing a box of salted-caramel brownies. Returning to my vast bed with them, I suddenly realised why rooms at The James come with cocktail-mixing kits – the temptation to stay in and throw a one-woman pyjama party was almost overwhelming.
The rooftop pool
But eventually, I managed to tear myself away. The James is situated on the fringes of the city’s artiest district, SoHo, and the management is keen for guests to make the most of the enviable location. I’d booked the ‘See Art SoHo’ package, which includes complimentary cocktails and a special walking tour highlighting the must-see galleries, museums and shops nearby. New York isn’t a place you want to be wandering aimlessly around in the scorching summer, but armed with the itinerary provided by The James, you can hit the street safe in the knowledge that everything recommended is well worth a visit.
Institutions great and small are listed, from the gigantic New Museum (www.newmuseum.org) to blink-and-you’ll-miss-them galleries crammed with treasures. How my book-loving heart leapt when I discovered that the flagship stores of publishers Phaidon and Taschen were within easy strolling distance, as well as the New Museum Store (www.newmuseumstore.org), a one-stop shop for quirky books and presents. Youngsters are encouraged to join in the fun, too – they’re given colouring-in books and pencils when they check in, so they can get creative.
The James may be located in one of the smartest parts of town, but the atmosphere is the opposite of sniffy, and the staff were by far and away the nicest I’ve ever encountered in Manhattan. The rooftop bar (to which I repaired for a nightcap with my newly acquired reading matter) does a brisk trade every night, but the service remained friendly and attentive throughout.
I had to get to Penn Station early the next morning to catch a train to Boston for the next leg of my American adventure. But before I left, I couldn’t resist breakfast – maple bacon and eggs (sunny side up, of course) in bed, eaten while watching the city that never sleeps gearing up for another frantic day.
The James, 27 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013 (00 1 212 465 2000; www.jameshotels.com)