The usual Manhattan Upper East side cacophony was drowned out by the soundtrack of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ trickling outside onto my private terrace where I, fittingly, breakfasted alfresco on egg white Jonas crab avocado scramble while the summertime rays illuminated the morning light over the city. Although my luxuriously cozy Corner Terrace Suite’s living room at The Whitby contained an immaculately restored old track vinyl record player stocked with an assortment of classics from Frank Sinatra’s ‘Come Fly with Me’ and Tony Bennett’s ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ to Miles Davis’s ‘King of Blue,’ I simply had to play the Audrey Hepburn favourite given Tiffany’s was quite literally on the next street.
My favorite place to stay in London has always been Firmdale’s The Knightsbridge Hotel. It’s comparable to staying in the quintessential London townhouse in Knightsbridge. Since Firmdale brought their exquisite brand to The Big Apple launching Crosby Street downtown and their latest Whitby uptown, I had to see for myself if their whimsical British design perfection translated across the ocean.
As anticipated, always count on internationally acclaimed interior designer Kit Kemp, Co-owner and Creative Director for Firmdale Hotels, to get it exactly right. Entering The Whitby’s lobby doors, it was if I was walking into the aesthetic spirit of Tim and Kit Kemp’s London townhome. Simply stated Kit’s passion for mixing color, patterns, fabric and textures with embroidery, wood and stone embodies epic style – no matter what country she finds herself creating a new property. She is infinitely innovative and daring in her design through juxtaposing old and new furniture mixed with contemporary art in charming and humorous ways.
Cheeky Peter Clark original collages adorn the walls complementing Kit’s eclectic style. Approaching each room like an artist with a blank canvas, each and every space manages to tell a story. All 86 individually designed rooms are a visual feast with no rules. It’s not a surprise that The Whitby’s ‘Whitby Suite’ was crowned winner of the ‘Best Suite USA’ at The Ahead Awards 2018.
The Whitby Hotel
Located right off Fifth Avenue, near MoMA, The Whitby is perfectly positioned in the heart of upper Midtown mere blocks from Central Park and walking distance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center and all the luxury designer boutiques uptown.
As an American with many New York friends, The Whitby’s Sunday brunch is the place to be in the hotel’s sunny Orangery with its vaulted sky lit ceiling. Soak in the chic atmosphere while feasting on a special menu of oysters and martinis or Sunday classics including brioche French toast with berry cream compote. For health enthusiasts, try their signature Acai bowl with granola, avocado, cucumber, almond butter, honey, berries and mint.
Firmdale is renowned for Kit’s award-winning design, of course, but Firmdale’s NYC hotels offer experiences which authentically integrate the hotel with the city. The Whitby partnered with MNDFL, New York’s premier meditation studio, to host a series of sessions in the hotel’s private events room.
The Whitby’s in-house 130-seat theatre presented ‘Fashion and Film’ featuring leading American fashion designer, Zac Posen, that was followed by a Q&A about his inspiration.
During the summer, The Whitby Bar launched live jazz music sessions in the courtyard every Friday evening to toast the start of the weekend with signature cocktails and sharing plates. Keeping their London connection alive, The Whitby ran National Theatre Live broadcasts of smash-hit productions from London such as ‘Julie’ starring Vanessa Kirby and ‘King Lear’ with Sir Ian McKellen in the hotel’s private cinema complete with drinks and canapes.
The Crosby Street Hotel
Tim and Kit’s bespoke brilliance heads downtown to SOHO to The Crosby Street Hotel on a quiet cobble stoned street situated between Prince and Spring amidst a vibrant neighborhood of galleries, restaurants and shopping.
A nod to Firmdale’s Soho Hotel in London, Crosby Street’s oversized floor-to-ceiling wrought iron framed windows bathe each room in natural light – a refreshing difference to other typically dark interiors of downtown properties. In my stunning One Bedroom Suite, larger than most New York apartments, I relished sitting on the cushioned window seat overlooking the bustling streets below.
When Spring arrives in April, the leafy oasis Crosby Terrace opens all day for morning coffee, lazy lunches or balmy New York evenings. Try specialty cocktail Aperitif No.3 with Regal Rogue Bold Red, sweetened Satsuma plum and lemon. The guests-only Terrace is the ideal place to unwind after a long day of shopping.
The Crosby’s Rooftop Kitchen Garden supplies coveted urban seasonal fruit, herbs and vegetables managed by the hotel’s head chef Anthony Paris. So all your cocktails in The Crosby Bar will contain the freshest ingredients.
Without question, Firmdale’s two new US properties have been embraced by New Yorkers and showcase the finest design hotels in Manhattan for locals and visitors alike. The question remains – where will Tim and Kit Kemp take their creative genius next?
by Kimberly Rosbe, Marketing & Communications Manager Executive Edge Travel