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Checkout Time Is 4 A.M.

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The Bowery Hotel  

The hotel-nightlife world is surprisingly insular. Eric Goode, who started the club Area in the eighties, is partners with Sean MacPherson, who owns seemingly every great bar in Los Angeles. Together, Goode and MacPherson created the Maritime, the Bowery, and the Jane hotels. Balazs, who also owns the Mercer, was an investor in Goode’s seminal late-eighties nightclub, MK, and partnered with MacPherson on Bar Marmont next door to his Chateau Marmont in L.A. Shawn Hausman, Goode’s partner from Area, designed—with the firm Roman and Williams—the interior of the Standard in New York. And Schrager, Balazs, Goode, and MacPherson all share Richard Born and Ira Drukier as business partners. “All of those guys are maniacs,” says Born. “It’s a matter of style, design, and art taking precedence over physical constraints and money. I once described André by saying, ‘If he was drowning, and you threw him a life preserver, he’d catch it, look at it, look up at you, and say, ‘Do you have this in baby blue?’ ”

Though these hoteliers are friendly rivals, they are rivals nonetheless. Sean MacPherson, a tall long-haired fellow with a mellow surfer-dude mien, is sitting on a giant couch in the ballroom of the Jane hotel. “This particular room, literally every piece of furniture, every single pillow, I bought myself. These other hotels, they hire designers and the designer makes a package and they are really selling a product. Here, the product in many ways is us—our taste. The Standard is great, but in the end, it’s like a corporate hotel.”

His partner Eric Goode agrees. “What interests me more and more is to not try to be the most innovative in a gratuitous way,” says Goode. “The Standard in Hollywood, when you check in, they have that sort of Area-like vignette behind the front desk with someone sleeping behind glass. An actual person. And, you know, it’s cute and everything, but the truth is when you check into a hotel, you really want to be left alone and you want to be comfortable because you’ve been traveling for hours.”

Both MacPherson and Goode seem to be pursuing a sort of eighties New York nostalgia in their projects. The Jane, which is MacPherson’s domain in a partnership that Goode qualifies as “a little dysfunctional” after ten years, feels a bit like the Chelsea Hotel without the art, history, or crazy people. “There’s really nowhere downtown that has that eighties gritty New York sensibility,” says MacPherson, describing the hotel, a former flophouse with tiny rooms that go for $100 a night, as a rock-and-roll Royal Tenenbaums meets Barton Fink. “If you are a 19-year-old runaway,” he says, very genuinely, “we want to be your hotel.”

The Bowery Hotel, on the other hand, took more of a “faux-old-world direction,” according to Goode. “It’s not the most inventive thing to do, and we struggled with it. At one point, we wanted to make it a very modern—a Japanese hotel. But this won out. Maybe it was the comfort of knowing that this kind of thing—the comfort of the old shoe—works.”

Tall, handsome, and rumpled-preppy, Goode has a kind of genial world-weariness that comes from having seen more than one generation of young and excited New Yorkers come through the nightlife system. One afternoon over coffee at Gemma, the restaurant at the Bowery Hotel, he bemoans the current state of nightlife. “When I was in nightclubs, I thought they were a really important way for young people who come to New York to meet people and connect,” he says. “Not to be too nostalgic and it-was-only-good-back-then, but I do think there was a difference in the eighties, when nightclubs were more integrated pre-aids and even shortly after that, when everything, black and white, gay and straight, seemed to be more blended together. I can only imagine there still have to be nightclubs where 21-year-olds go. Because this place is expensive for that bracket. If hotels are replacing nightclubs, then they’re replacing nightclubs for yuppies.”

Both Goode and MacPherson were sorely tempted to put a nightclub on the second floor of the Bowery Hotel, but they resisted. “I don’t want to come across sounding virtuous and hollow,” says MacPherson, “but the Bowery Hotel was designed to be a notch more adult than our other properties. I actually pleaded with all the partners: Give me an opportunity to not turn this into a nightclub. I didn’t want a hotel that felt like when you checked in, you were checking in to a nightclub. That’s why there is no music in the lobby and yet it’s always packed.”

But the Bowery Hotel lobby is, in fact, run like an exclusive club—like Nell’s without the dance floor. It can be very difficult to get into. “I get calls still from people who try to come sit in the lobby,” says Goode. “They will text me and say ‘This guy won’t let me sit down.’ ”


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