Out of the hotel, turn right, not left. This is an important decision. Left is the philistine homogeneity of Times Square. Right is the neighborhood the Chatwal belongs to — the New York Yacht Club, the Harvard, Penn, and Cornell Clubs.
The Chatwal hotel started as a club, too, back in 1905. The Lambs were the first professional theatrical club in America, and they commissioned the Stanford White–designed building. Actors would stay in the building and they frequented the grill room and billiard room. The list of Lambs is robust — including John Wayne, Fred Astaire, John Berrymore and 6,000 others — and select faces still hang high in the Lambs Club restaurant, a beautiful ode to 1930s art deco centered by a massive floor-to-ceiling fireplace. A jazz duet plays during Saturday and Sunday brunch.
After a restoration and modernization in 2010 led by Thierry Despont, the turn-of-the-century building turned modern luxe. Rooms ooze the refined cool of an older era, with suede walls, gigantic leather-wrapped trunks for dresser and desk and matching cabinets. Chrome is everywhere, and everything is thick — conveying that the most expensive things carry weight. Tiles in the bathroom sparkle and extend into the spacious shower and cover nearly every surface that isn’t a mirror. This is design by generational urbanites, refined over years of persnickety critique. For the contemporary visitor, it’s a welcome introduction to true high class.