I May Not Be Hip Enough for New York’s New Hip Public Hotel

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Public Hotel bar, New York City
The Lobby Bar at Public Hotel in New York.

I know how to dress in black, take the subway, pronounce SoHo and treat the sidewalk like a highway. (Slow walkers – move over to the right!) But I’m not sure I was hip enough for my stay in the new Public Hotel, the brainchild of Ian Schrager that recently opened on the Lower East Side.

The staff, referred to as Public Advisors, was friendly and helpful. And evidenced by the number of selfie takers, I wasn’t the only one enamored of the décor with its glitzy elevators and high-concept design accented with loads of work and place spaces that include a bright yellow pool table. I fit in fine with the hotel – it’s the after-hours entertainment spaces that may be another thing altogether. More on that later.

Due to private event closures and time limitations, I didn’t get to experience several of the amenities the hotel offers: a roof-top pool, performance space and the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants. But here are my favorite things from our stay there.

Public Hotel, New York City

• The View

One of my favorite things about Public Hotel was our view outside our window. I’ve never lived in a high rise, so maybe that’s part of the appeal, but I love looking out at the city in the day, and then when it lights up at night.

• The Gardens

The hotel is high-tech, high-design on the inside. But one of my favorite features was the lowest-tech one – the gardens outside fronting Chrystie Street, offering a private, green oasis with several seating areas. When I’m in NYC, I tend to walk just about everywhere and when I finally reach my destination, it’s a welcome respite to spot some inviting green space.

Public Hotel Garden, New York City

Public Hotel, Garden
The garden at the front of the Public Hotel has plenty of seating.


• The Easy Check-in Process

Maybe it’s just that I’m anxious to get to my room. But sometimes it feels like it takes longer to check into a hotel than it took to get there from the airport. I always wonder what they are doing as they click and click away. It has taken me up to 45 minutes to stand in line at check-in before – not the best way to welcome a guest to your property. At Public Hotel you check yourself in on an iPad, then make your own hotel room key, a special thrill all its own. If you encounter a problem, the cheerful Public Advisors are there to help.

check in, Public Hotel, New York City
You check yourself in at Public Hotel, then select a blank room key and hold it on the pad on the left. Voila! You’ve made your own key.


• The Communal Work/Play Space

Wow. I didn’t even check this area out until close to checkout. The front of the second floor is a light-filled space with plenty of tables for working, and a gorgeous bar. Along the side towards the back is a tiered space with room to sit and wooden platforms for resting your laptop. Several smaller seating areas were located throughout. This would be amazing space to work during the day, then chill out with an adult beverage at night.

• The Room Design

I loved everything about our room at the Public Hotel. It felt spacious, had wonderful light, and minimalist design. The walls did remind me of being inside a corrugated box, but in a good way. I loved how clean the design was, and how I could operate the drapes and sheers with the push of a button on the control next to the bed. Oh, how I’ve struggled with heavy drapes, both stubborn and just plain stuck. We had free, fast wifi, Apple TV and a mini-fridge.

When I got into the shower, I had another delightful find. I could actually figure out a.) how to turn the water on and b.) how to make it hot. I’ve encountered many a shower that looked nice, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on, or make it the desired temperature. This one? A button for hot and cold. Thank you.

hotel room, Public Hotel, New York City
I love this clean design and lack of clutter – so cozy and inviting

• The Scene

We never made it to that rooftop, reported to have some of the best views of the city. When we returned from seeing a show on Broadway, around 11:30 or so on a Thursday, the atmosphere of the hotel had been transformed. Hundreds of people were milling around on the front sidewalk, spilling out onto the sidewalk, and forming lines behind various doorways. The crowd was young, well-dressed with shoes that cost more than our nightly hotel rate. after entering the hotel, we saw more crowds at a private event behind the lobby and milling around the bar.

Two guys got off the elevator when I got on, then jumped back on when they saw I had a key. They got off on my floor, which made me a bit nervous, but then heading down another hallway speaking about “getting four floors up.” My guess? They were trying to make it to the rooftop.

I may not be hip enough to party there or ever make it to the rooftop. But I’ll stay there any time.

If You Go

The concept of Public Hotel is affordable luxury, with  rates said to be starting at just $150. (I did a few searches on random Tuesdays over the next year and the lowest I found was $225, but I suppose they are available somewhere. You can you join friends and family on the website by putting in your email and get 15% off.)

You won’t find room service or bellhops here. But there’s a deli downstairs to satisfy your hunger and Public Advisors assist you with any needs, either by phone or in person in the lobby.

The hotel is at 215 Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side, within walking distance of two Metro stations. There are plenty of restaurants around, and a Whole Foods just up the street. I visited the Tenement Museum one day, which is a few blocks away. Sara Delano Roosevelt Park is across the street. Fun fact: In the Spider Man comic books, Peter Parker’s apartment address is 187 Chrystie Street.

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