Last week I visited the NoMad Hotel, which has received a lot of great press since opening several weeks ago. First, I must say that I can’t stand the name, which is a portmanteau of North of Madison Square Park. Perhaps it’s because this area existed almost my entire life without such a name that I find it forced and pretentious. I wonder if people thought the same thing about TriBeCa years ago?
Despite my dislike of the name, the NoMad Hotel is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Midtown between 23rd and 32nd street is a wholesale jewelry district that was desolate at night until the opening of the Ace Hotel in ’09. The NoMad Hotel is owned by the same developers as the Ace, but it’s more upscale and less hipster.
The Jacques Garcia designed décor is “Parisian-inspired” and while I don’t find it to be reminiscent of Paris, it is quite luxurious. The hotel actually reminds me of old New York, since it’s in a turn of the century building and Madison Square Park was home to NY’s best hotels during the Gilded Age. Unfortunately my photos of NoMad’s interiors are so poor they are almost embarrassing because it was dark and I only had my iphone. Also, as I was attempting to photograph the lobby, the concierge motioned to me from across the room to stop. I don’t understand why. There were no celebrities in the room (the lobby was empty minus a seated couple who were not in my shot) and it’s not like I’m planning on copying the furnishings. I was trying to give them free press!
The bar and library rooms are at the back of the restaurant, which have all received rave reviews. The restaurant looks nice, but the fact they serve an $78. chicken entrée makes it a lot less interesting to me (in all fairness the chicken entrée is meant for two and stuffed with foie gras, but both of those factors only add to the lack of appeal). Beyond the restaurant is a mahogany bar/lounge, which was too crowded and dark for me to attempt to photograph. The next room is the library bar with table service drinks and snacks. The lovely two-tiered room reminds me of Pierpont Morgan’s historic library at the close by Morgan Library & Museum.
The cocktail menu is extensive with some classics and many more inventive drinks. Alcohol-free “soft cocktails” start at $8. and the prices go up, but the cocktails average $15 (if you’re outside NYC this will probably seem high, but it’s actually a bargain compared to the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel). I had only just started perusing the menu when I saw the “Bohemia” cocktail (Genever gin, Chambery blanc vermouth, aquavit, and maraschino liquor). Despite having lukewarm feelings about the ingredients, I had to order it. Well, it turns out maraschino liquor is nothing like the somewhat sickly sweet maraschino flavor of my beloved childhood Shirley Temples and I ended up not liking the cocktail. I was going to drink it anyway and just call it a loss when the manager came around and asked my thoughts. Upon hearing that the drink was not what I was expecting, he graciously offered to get me another one. He returned with the Badminton Cup (red wine, moscatel sherry, maraschino, lemon, cucumber, mint), which was both pretty and delicious. I was extremely impressed with the service!
Between the Ace and the NoMad, I predict the Madison Square Park vicinity might not have had its heyday yet (and that the NoMad will be impossibly packed by summer!).