Quite suddenly, with a spate of stylish hotels and chic eateries in lower mid-Manhattan, the NoMad ‘hood area around Madison Square Park is making the scene. And new on that stage is the totally remodeled Martha Washington, a landmark Renaissance Revival hotel with a history.
In 1903, the Martha Washington was New York’s first lodging solely for a growing corps of professional women—an ahead-of-its-time clientele that included Eleanor Roosevelt. Well, men are welcome nowadays, for the 261-room hotel went co-ed in 1998, and today it still serves a cutting-edge crowd who comes to make themselves at home in the smart and stylish rooms and dine out in its much-talked-about in-house restaurant, Marta.
Martha Washington’s signature restaurant, Marta, drew rave reviews from New York food critics on opening and continues to draw reserve-in-advance diners who come to enjoy a reinvigorated Roman pizzeria from chef Nick Anderer and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Inspired by the tradition of the rustic Roman pizzeria, Marta features an incredible choice of incredibly delicious thin-crust pizzas, joined by classic dishes cooked alla brace (over embers). Open for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, dishes from Marta are also available to guests through room service.
The handsome and mod guestrooms fall style-wise somewhere between minimal and Hollywood Regency: white walls and bedlinens, black furniture, red color accents here and there. In various arrangements above the beds is black and white art work: silhouettes of Martha Washington portrayed as not quite her 18th century self, but updated with taste and humor to show her puffing a cigarette here, sipping a cocktail there. Guestrooms range from a cozy 175 sq. ft. to 300 sq. ft. in a Deluxe King room, but all have Simmons mattresses with Bellino linens, ample armoires, flat-screen TVs, complimentary WiFi and in-room Internet access. The bathrooms are modern and smart, with gray tiles, glass-enclosed showers and eco-friendly Davines amenities.
While there’s a 24-hour fitness center on the third floor, the action is at the lobby level where guests and locals gather in the hotel’s lobby bar lounge, Veronica’s, to sip cocktails with buzzy names and a choice of seven draft options. All dressed up in Old Hollywood charm—white columns, dark tables, lots of mirrors, and velvet wraparound couches—the room is named in honor of Veronica Lake, the glamorous 1940s film star and former hotel resident; her picture is over the bar.
The Martha Washington is now “Exclusively for Everyone,” but that doesn’t stop the hotel from offering a Girls’ Getaway package, including accommodations, a 60-minute massage and manicure-pedicure for two at the exhale Spa Central Park South, a 2-hour Central Park lake tour for two from Central Park Bike Tours (free use of bikes for the rest of the day), and a $60 food and beverage credit for Marta, Veronica’s, room service or minibar. The cost for two persons starts at $770.
The Martha Washington is a member of the Chelsea Hotels group, as is the Hotel Chelsea—also a historic New York City landmark and a hotel with a celebrity-strewn past. Known chiefly for the notability of its residents—literally hundreds of writers, musicians, arts and actors, such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Allen Ginsberg and Larry Rivers, Elaine Stritch and Jane Fonda, and a host of Warhol superstars—it will reopen in 2016. For more information, call (888) 339-1051 or visit chelseahotels.com