The Mercer

Soho, Downtown NYC, United States Book from US$640

Reviewed by Antonia Short
One of the first places to put hip into hotel: slick design and a centre-stage location keep The Mercer buzzing
As New York’s first trendy ‘loft-style’ hotel, The Mercer’s winning formula has been reproduced by many hopeful copycats. And while some have successfully replicated its open brickwork and industrial, creative-studio feel, nowhere can compete with its setting.

Loft living was born here in Soho, an area that's epitomised decadent artsy-cool since the ‘60s and is never short on crowds looking for a slice of it. With the neighbourhood now home to Prada, Chanel, Miu Miu and all other labels that matter, it’s no surprise that the 75 rooms are a favourite pied-à-terre for celebrities, models, movie stars and designer-clad wannabees. What is surprising is that there’s nothing particularly outstanding about the place - no breathtaking spa or swanky roof terrace, no palatial chandeliers or epic fireplaces. And that’s exactly the appeal. Never over the top, intimidating or grandiose, hotelier André Balazs understands how creating a comfortable, understated backdrop within the hyperactive city it inhabits leaves you to make your NY experience whatever you want it to be, whether as a couple or family.

Highs

  • Unrivalled location in the heart of bustling downtown Soho, minutes from Broadway, subways and the best of NY shopping
  • Excellent food and guaranteed reservations at the Mercer Kitchen (non-guests can wait weeks); entry to the exclusive subMercer nightclub
  • Huge 2-person bathtubs in the lion’s share of the rooms and suites
  • Large lobby with extensive designer-bound library, 24-hour dining booth tables and lounge area
  • Fascinating people-watching (and often celeb-spotting) opportunities

Lows

  • There’s no quiet communal space in which to get away from it all - a retreat can be a godsend in NY
  • No onsite spa or gym facilities - complimentary day passes for a nearby gym is never the same
  • Minimal business facilities (a tiny cupboard with a laptop serves as the token business centre)
  • Previous reports of patchy service seem to have been rectified; we found staff welcoming and helpful
  • Outdoor courtyard space is exclusive to just 2 of the suites

Best time to go

New York is most welcoming in spring and summer when the threat of extreme (scorching or freezing) temperatures is at its lowest. The hotel can get particularly busy during New York Fashion Weeks (February and September) and in the months from September to December. Make a date for the annual spring Tribeca Film Festival round the corner.

Our top tips

Take comfortable shoes for hitting the street and walking (the best way to travel Manhattan), sunglasses and sunscreen in summer, snow boots and layers in winter and (for the girls) as many Sex And The City heels as you can cram into your suitcase!

Great for...

City Style
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 75
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Courtyard Loft 214

Rooms

With rooms carefully designed for every type of visitor, how much you enjoy yours is all in the choosing. No point opting for a Studio with an indulgent square-soaking-tub-for-2 if you’re in town to work all hours, or like privacy in your ‘bathroom’ (many have just a wall of shutters).

As you move up in room size (and price), the lofts get loftier (artists set up their high-ceilinged studios here in pre-Mercer days) and amenities more amenable (body-spray showers, huge arched windows and 2 have working fireplaces).

Whichever your room number, the idea is you’ll find a home away from home. Christian Liaigre's modernist designs and muted colour palate are understated enough to be relaxing, slick enough to stay impressive. Little touches make the difference: cashmere throws, fresh flowers, bottle of water and cookies at turndown.

Stark, sizeable, white-tiled and marble bathrooms come with thoughtful extras including votive candles, bath salts and the hotel’s own trendy line of Swedish beauty products.

See Rates for full details.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

With an automatic table reservation at chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ‘American Provencal’ Mercer Kitchen, guests already have one up on the natives, who wait weeks to get one. (Many claim Vongerichten invented America's response to nouvelle cuisine, his empire now stretches from Vancouver to Istanbul.)

Even more covetable is your access-all-areas entry to the subMercer, the hush-hush wine cellar-style nightspot that you may or may not find as you make your way past the doorman, down the freight elevator and beyond the kitchen, at the end of a long labyrinth of basement corridors.

Back in the Kitchen, ordering identical set menus proved an interesting exercise. While my friend marvelled at her prawn and avocado salad, mine was slightly too vinegary. My tarte tatin was a bit on the sweet side, but she wasn’t nearly so fussy. But there was no debate over our main course of melt-in-your-mouth marinated roast chicken with French beans, baby carrots and herbed mash. Comfort food at its glorious best, this was enough to convince me that the accolade-strewn Kitchen has retained at least some of its famed star quality.

Breakfast is a la carte. We went straight for the omelette with artisan goats cheese, and for the buttermilk pancakes with bananas and mixed berries.

Soho is home to some of New York’s most revered food haunts - tell reception what you feel like, and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Soho is not only one of New York’s most lively and popular shopping districts, it’s one of the world’s. Broadway mainly hosts mid and low price labels, the cross streets (between Prince and Grand Street) has the posh stuff
  • One of the best free boat trips in the world, the Staten Island Ferry (close to Battery Park) runs 24 hours and guarantees heart-stopping views of Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty) and downtown Manhattan
  • Ground Zero may not be top of everyone’s sightseeing list, but if you’re interested in the site’s progression, it’s just a short cab ride or pleasant walk down the west-side cyclepath (beside the Hudson river)
  • South Street Seaport’s cobbled streets are nearly always alive with tourists who visit for the shopping, restaurants, street artists and East River views
  • For a taste of something different, a walk south-east of the hotel takes you to Little Italy and increasingly sprawling Chinatown
  • Go further south of Canal Street for some of Manhattan’s most famous landmarks: City Hall, the Woolworth Building, Chambers and the Municipal Building are all within walking distance
  • Head north for some of the city's other famous landmarks: Broadway's theatres, Central Park, Guggenheim, MoMA and the Met

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and The Mercer has a lot of equipment for younger kids in particular. Despite its glamorous appeal, it is a good pick if you're holidaying as a family. We'd note that there is very little communal space in the hotel, so bear that in mind and book the largest room or rooms possible (many with generous bathtubs) so you have space to relax.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Some Deluxe studios can take an extra bed (for a fee); otherwise the best bet is to book connecting rooms, which sleep up to 4.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement through the Babysitting Guild of New York

Baby listening:

Baby listening/monitors available on request; they work everywhere in the building.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • Baby bedding
  • High chairs
  • Stair gates
  • Pushchair
  • Baby backpack/rucksack
  • Potty
  • Night light
  • Baby bath
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

You can get food here 24/7 and there are plenty of shops, cafés and takeaways a short walk away. You can borrow a blender or microwave if needed too.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Games consoles (Wii, Xbox), perfect for teens, with the likes of Guitar Hero to play
  • Children's DVDs

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Washington Square Park, 10 minutes' walk, has a playground
  • Citibabes designer kids shop, which also runs classes and kids clubs
  • Staten Island Ferry, for visits to the Statue of Liberty
  • Further afield, there's Central Park, the Empire State Building, Broadway, Times Square, multiple galleries and much more to delight all ages

Families Should Know:

Watch out for the windows and french doors which open and don't have gates or protective netting. There's a house doctor on call if needed.

Distances:

  • Airport: 60 minutes
  • Hospital: 1 mile
  • Closest grocery store and pharmacy: a couple of blocks away
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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