The array of chic, LGBT-friendly hotels naturally makes one wonder, as I did, whether there was a need for a gay hotel in Manhattan. I wondered until the moment I checked into my room at the Out NYC, the new resort complex in midtown west.
The inventive perks are these: The complex sits in the gay Hell's Kitchen neighborhood; it includes XL, the newest, biggest, and best dance club in the city, and Ktchn, a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass windows so you can see and be seen; and accommodations start at a surprising $79 per night (that's for the four-to-a-room, hostel-style dormitories; regular rooms start at $250). So the test is in the stay itself.
When I checked in, the sidewalk in front of the 105-room hotel was overflowing with activity. Photographers were shooting androgynous models while racks of clothing changes were wheeled in and out. Inside, the ground-level hallways undulate in black and white, and the guest rooms face either the street or one of several inner courtyards. One of them, the Sun Deck, channels Fire Island with wood, ivy, and a waterfall that streams down the wall, and it adjoins the Spa, which offers hot tubs, a sauna, and cabanas. Another, the Secret Garden, planted with black bamboo, has long tables for reading. The third, the Great Lawn, has a wall-to-wall artificial turf surface big enough to host a same-sex wedding reception
'Clearly the place is neither a stuffy gay bed-and-breakfast nor a gauche, disco ball'like sensory assault. The rooms are trendy and tasteful, with the full array of the resort's offerings on display on the flat-screen TVs. The glass-and-mirror bathrooms, light-up-cube nightstands, and drawers and rods for storing your clothes (but no closets'metaphor alert) further the cool-but-never-cold appeal. Jaded urbanites will find this as appealing as travelers from further afield.
The Out NYC understands that LGBTs share their travel experiences, so in a city where a gay hotel could be appreciated but it isn't, strictly speaking, necessary, all the details have to be perfect. One such detail is the recent hiring of Christopher Drummond as the director of the hotel's spa. The handsome skin-care expert and former model has revamped the spa menu to include a full slate of services including massage, sugaring, facials, Botox, nails, yoga, and hammam scrubs.
There's no shortage of things to do in the neighborhood, but before you explore, you'll likely be eager, just as I was, to sample what Out NYC has to offer first. TheOutNYC.com