In the space of a few years, the Meatpacking District has been transformed from the part of town where dead cows were chopped up into a trendy cafe and fashion district. ‘A Hollywood version of New York,’ scoffed my Brooklyn-born local expert, ‘where everyone is thin, beautiful and has a dog-walker.’
What hasn’t changed so much is the Jane Hotel.
Survivors of the Titanic were put up here while they waited for the inquiry into the disaster, and Mevrouw T and I spent a night as their guests too. That may not be quite as historic, but we won’t forget it in a hurry.
The Jane’s decor looks right out of the fin du siecle – mosaic tiles, potted palms, stuffed peacocks and deer heads on the wall. Lobby staff wear button-up jackets and pillbox hats, which probably drive them mad, but the effect is theatrical and a job’s a job. They do it well, with a smile.
Most rooms(‘cabins’) are steerage size too, with bunk beds and little elbow room. Shared bathrooms are down the narrow corridor. If the hotel were to go under in a flash flood of the neighbouring Hudson River, we wouldn’t all make it to the life boats. For any concerned about this remote possibility, larger ‘Captain’s cabins’ with ensuites are also available.
Mevrouw T and I regarded it all as rather good fun, though my flexibility-challenged knees struggled to get up to the top bunk.
The bar and guests’ lounge are heavy and dark, furnished to emulate the Titanic experience,well, the first two days of it anyway. In contrast, the bright airy Cafe Gitane serves excellent Moroccan and French-style cuisine, and does the honours at breakfast time.
Apart from the chic shopping and dining in the area, the Jane is also a block away from the High Line, the old railway recently converted to a brilliant urban walkway. Perfect for your morning stroll or jog, or for picking up a coffee at the stall along the way.
The Jane also offers free bikes for guests’ use. ‘Cycling in Manhattan???’ I hear you cry. Fear not – a car-free cycle path along the Hudson River is right across the road.
Double cabins in the Jane Hotel cost from USD125. That’s very affordable for Manhattan!
For bookings and enquiries, go to: http://www.thejanenyc.com/ It’s a cool website, worth a look for its own sake.
The writer and his fellow survivor were guests of the Jane Hotel.