New York’s Ludlow Hotel Is a Lesson on Doing More with Less

A night at the Ludlow Hotel in the Lower East Side proves that small things count in big ways.

At the Ludlow Hotel, it’s not about having a lot of space, it’s about doing well with the space that you have. The petite foyer is filled with leather, wood and marble mosaic. The lobby bar is anchored by a limestone fireplace with cobras guarding the hearth; nude Marshall speakers hang from exposed crossbeams; chairs covered in hide oppose leather couches and cocktail tables. Through glass doors, an atrium of exposed brick and metal trusses holds more marble and wood tables, and offers a glimpse into the kitchen. In the restaurant, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s acclaimed Dirty French, white busts are desecrated with bleeding eyes and pink roosters sit perched above the dining room. It is a Gallic farmhouse landscape forced through the mind of David Lynch. And this is only the first floor.

The Ludlow, parked on a one-way street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, opened midsummer 2014 under the studied eye of Sean MacPherson (of the Bowery Hotel, the Jane, the Maritime, the Park, Waverly Inn and Crow’s Nest in Montauk — just for his East Coast haunts). It is a place for the hip, the young and the cool, without costing the now-standard $500+ rates (rooms start at $245 a night). And while the hotel does not wow with expansive spaces, it does reward those with attention to the small details.

In a studio queen room (a compact 235 square feet), the design continues to be the experience. The bathroom is punctuated by brass, Waterworks fixtures, a marble countertop and Maison Martin Margiela bathrobes and rug. In the living space, an Indo-Portuguese four-post bed pairs with an oversized Moroccon pendant lamp and oddly appropriate phallic artwork. A flatscreen hangs on the wall, but this is the Lower East Side of New York, there are better things than watching late night television. Staying at the Ludlow also means one gets to walk proudly out of the elevator, stroll past the affluent in the lobby, and step out onto the hotel’s namesake street, where a short walk away are Death + Company for whiskey and Katz’s Deli for late-night pastrami, two of the finer things in life.

Or, if you decide to stay in, Bellino Italian linens will welcome you and a glass of La Spinetta Barbera d’Asti Ca Di Pian can suffice. In the morning, rise for coffee and the included (in a limited menu) breakfast at Dirty French, a lost art of the upper-crust hotel. There are worse ways to start a day in Manhattan, and even in a brief, one-night stay, it’s a healthy exercise in appreciating the quality of a few, good things. When the sensory onslaught starts after exiting the hotel’s doors, a Ludlow-ite feels a touch better prepared to find the next moment of balanced calm amidst the city’s chaos.

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