Stephen Webster’s favourite New York hotel

Old-world but never old-fashioned, with a pronounced rock ’n’ roll edge – this describes the Lower East Side bolthole as aptly as it does the London-based jewellery designer

Stephen Webster
Stephen Webster | Image: Jeffery Salter

I’ve been staying at The Bowery since it opened in 2007. Someone recommended it to me – they thought the atmosphere and look would suit my tastes. For several years, the hotel was also located very close to my US office (which has since moved to LA), so I could walk to work in the morning.

Turkish rugs and velvet chairs and sofas give The Bowery Hotel’s Lobby Bar a cosy feel
Turkish rugs and velvet chairs and sofas give The Bowery Hotel’s Lobby Bar a cosy feel | Image: Annie Schlechter

There’s nothing corporate about the hotel. There’s an old-world feeling, but it’s not old-fashioned, and it also has a kind of rock ’n’ roll glamour (whatever that means) that feels comfortable to me; it makes it feel homely. I’m quite a maximalist in my life – I can’t be any other way – and The Bowery caters to this particular traveller in a way that works.

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The main guest lounge area has a cosiness about it; there’s a huge stone fireplace and Turkish rugs and velvet sofas and a bar that occupies a small nook where I am often on my own, having a martini, which I only ever drink in New York, or a craft beer. There’s a mix of fairly interesting artwork and a number of textures going on. The overall effect is very eclectic. And adjoining the hotel is an Italian restaurant, Gemma, where often I’ll have a meeting over breakfast or lunch. Unlike in my normal life, I tend to eat a lot of meat in New York – burgers, steaks – so that’s what I order there, with a glass of red wine.

The Bowery Hotel’s Lobby Bar
The Bowery Hotel’s Lobby Bar | Image: Annie Schlechter

The rooms aren’t massive, but each has an industrial-type loft window, floor to ceiling, which makes it feel far bigger. The rooms have a similar decor to the downstairs area; each sideboard, or chair or ceiling fan feels like an antique that’s been specially chosen. If your room is facing the right way, you get an amazing view over the Lower East Side. If you’re given a corner room, even better: you get two floor-to-ceiling windows, and two views. That’s a luxury for me, far greater than square footage. Saying that, I did a model casting at The Bowery shortly after it opened, with my wife Assia. About 20 women came through my hotel bedroom; it got so crowded we had to have them standing on the bed.

The coveted corner rooms have floor-to-ceiling views of the city in two directions
The coveted corner rooms have floor-to-ceiling views of the city in two directions | Image: Annie Schlechter

Staying here is a proper downtown experience. The Lower East Side has a grittiness connected to a past that is part of its character. It couldn’t feel more New York. It’s loud at night, but it should be; it’s downtown! If you want to sleep, go uptown.

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