Lucid in the Sky: The Dream Hotel, New York
Freud considered all dreams to be in essence a form of wish fulfilment.
Yes, even the scary ones. Luckily, Vikram Chatwal’s theatrical sci-fi hide out, deep in Midtown Manhattan is no dystopian nightmare. Let’s leave behind the blurb that describes it as ‘not your mother’s luxury hotel in Midtown’ (I’m assuming that’s not a euphemism) and concentrate on the unreality of what is, it has to be said, a very cool place to be indeed.
Housed in a 1895 Beaux-Arts building off Broadway, the inside walls have been encased in a metal shell with circular windows and a disconcerting raked effect. This further adds to the sense of being removed from quotidian reality. The staff is incredibly on point. A chic lobby that houses the Bar and excellent Italian eatery Seraphina seems a meeting point for some serious lookers. They’ll be going to the AVA Lounge, a very slick club on the top floor that offers views of the Hudson and the city skyline and some more ‘Freudian’ imagery on the dance floor. Entry is by a separate elevator and, like the narrator of Schnitzler’s own ‘Dream Novel’, you’ll want to see what goes on behind the closed doors.
Funnily enough, this being only a short nocturnal stroll from Central Park, off Broadway, it does evoke an Eyes Wide Shut sense that things are going on in those very Kubrickian suites. One lays there in the excellently plush bed, awaiting Morpheus, when you hear salacious cackling from one of the beautiful posses stalking your floor. Luckily, I’m more Alex the Droog than Tom Cruise and approve fully. One may find the poppier of the room art a bit glitzy or the bathroom, in it’s Barbarella chrome utility to be, well, less than utilitarian. I absolutely couldn’t find anyway to run a full sink of water. A man comes to my aid instantly and is as surprised as me. But, hey, if Alice could cope with smoking caterpillars, I can cope with a bit of unplanned stubble.
Whilst all this surreal/subconscious whimsy might make the Dream seem frivolous, it must be emphasised that business is very well catered for here. Being part of the Wyndham Group, they take their main client base seriously – every device you may have is compatible with something and there is 24-hour concierge and a state of the art meeting room for those who can tear themselves away from the play.
Whilst many great New York hotels offer an air of quiet, elevated calm, there is a new breed that knows a younger crowd draws a more vibrant atmosphere. Every dog has its day.
The Ace is drawing in the hipsters, whilst the Soho Grand is mellowing into elegant middle age. And my beloved hub of ‘real’ Manhattan, the Chelsea has finally booted out the last of the ageing Warhol gang and shut its doors. But the Dream refuses to believe it’s not 1967. The Factory is still open. Anything is possible. All you need is a little imagination and, maybe, a slight mother complex.