NEW YORK—Just steps from an entrance to the High Line is a luxury hotel that has skillfully worked its way into what is, for now, one of the quieter parts of Chelsea. Aptly named The High Line Hotel, the 60-room boutique establishment has taken up residence in one of the former buildings of the General Theological Seminary.
The High Line Hotel’s building, at 180 10th Ave., and 20th Street, is just one part of the seminary’s property. It was built on a large parcel of land that was once an apple orchard. The seminary used to cover the entire block between 20th and 21st avenues and 9th and 10th streets. Built in imposing brick, the classrooms, faculty apartments, and dormitories of the Episcopal Church were constructed around the perimeter of the block to create an English-style quadrangle. The seminary’s last remaining building is on 21st Street between 9th and 10th avenues.
In between the remaining pathways and quaint courtyards are several high-end residency units, some of which will be available for occupancy this fall. The new residences blend in beautifully with the older buildings to create and aesthetically pleasing patchwork of old and new.
The hotel has abided by that principle, too. Instead of making drastic changes to modernize inside and out, great pains have been taken to bring out unique characteristics that are already there while still contributing something truly new to the area.
That includes a quirky vintage basketball floor that was uncovered after the hotel took possession of the building.
“We had no idea it was here; it was the tackiest corporate carpeting,” said Deanna Thomas, director of sales and marketing for the hotel during a tour through some of the establishment’s 8,000 square feet of event space, known as Hoffman Hall.
The faint lines and floor of a basketball court they uncovered when the carpet was torn out could date back as far as the turn of the 20th century, around the time the building was constructed and basketball was invented.
According to Thomas, the hotel management found a basketball court that could be older than 100 years. Considered historically valuable, they decided to keep it as is by only adding a honey glaze finish for protection and beautification.
As Thomas explains, “Our old GM was very big on history.”
Overall, the hotel has maintained the building’s character and antique feel. Although the building is landmarked, its interior is not; the hotel has played up its historical characteristics.
That includes the smallest touches. For one, every guest room has an embossing seal with a design based on detailed carvings that adorn the massive, wooden staircase leading up to what staff refers to as “the Harry Potter room.” The room is a gothic, elongated grand hall with a sweeping, arched ceiling decorated with multihued carved panels.
“When you take over a building as beautiful as this, you want to take care of it,” Thomas said.
The room will be on full display in all its glory during New York City’s Fashion Week—it is fully booked for shows through New York’s biggest style event of the fall. Used for events such as corporate parties and weddings, it seems perfectly suited for a runway show and a stylish audience.
And though they haven’t set an exact date, the hotel plans to have its grand opening also sometime in early September, following a soft opening in May. Already established in the lobby is the East Coast’s first Intelligentsia coffee shop, a wildly popular brand of gourmet coffee and espresso.
“I feel like this is Hoffman Hall’s coming out party,” said Thomas, who added that the events of September make it feel like the building is being reintroduced to the neighborhood—in a new form.