Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blooms From Hotel to Home

The hotels I tend to stay in when I travel are of the slightly funky, off-beat variety, and yet I have a small obsession with the really nice ones, and I invariably pay them a visit when given the chance.  The lobbies and other public spaces are often the best part anyway, and they don't cost $500 a night to enjoy.

I've had wine at the Emiliano in Sao Paulo while sitting on a absolutely fascinating chair, I've had a relaxing bit of tea at the Four Seasons in Istanbul, a languid afternoon cocktail at the fabulous Alvear in Buenos Aires, and formal tea at the Peninsula in Hong Kong, in all cases while staying in cheap and cheerful accommodations down the street.

And in New York, despite the fact that I live in an apartment downtown, I'm no less taken with my local hotels.  I've taken in the sultry scene at the Bowery Hotel on more than one occasion, and before the Bowery it was The Mercer that I would frequent  The Soho Grand has been host to more than one delightful evening, and I will forever adore the bar at the Carlyle for those evenings when I feel like being a grown-up.

So I'm sure that you can imagine the draw that the newest hot spot New York hotel, the Ace Hotel, held for me (although as I was happy to learn from Terry B, who stayed there recently, that you can enjoy a room for significantly less than one might think).

photo via hotel website

The bar and restaurant are terribly popular, which means that in the interest of my own sanity I've generally steered clear.  But the Ace does happen to be on a route that I find myself walking fairly frequently during the workweek, and as it was particularly hot and humid the other day, I felt justified in stopping in for a bit of a respite in the form of an iced coffee from Stumptown, which by the way, more than lived up to its excellent reputation.

However, it too turned out to be terribly popular, which meant that I had twenty minutes to kill while waiting in line to place my order.  I took the time to take in the wonderfully dark and conspiratorial lobby  design.

photo via New York Times

It was cool rather than aggressively hip, something that will serve as a sought-after location for some time to come rather than become a dated reminder of the naughts, I should think.

But for some reason, it was really the flowers that held my attention.  When I think of hotel flowers I usually think of large, complex and overwrought arrangements, all of which seem to be attempting to mimic the fantastic bouquets at the Metropolitan Museum and failing miserably.  Or I think of those impossibly imaginative arrangements at the George V in Paris where the celebrity florist Jeff Leatham works his magic.

photo via here  

I love this idea of massive bunches of the same blooms at odd angles.

photo via here

It is sadly a concept that is mercilessly ripped off to mediocre effect in lots of New York hotels, one of which I am forced to walk by every day, staring at the reliably tilted blooms in the streetside window.

But the Ace Hotel engages in none of this floral peer pressure.  Rather, they just go for big, bold bunches (apologies for the Blackberry quality photos).

This clutch of berry-laden branches is something I recognize after haunting James Durr Flowers every Saturday for years...hypernium I think?  I recall loving it in my home until the small berries began to fall off...I was rolling about on the little ball bearings for ages.  But the gradations of green and red are so lovely and really kind of unexpected in early summer.

I've certainly seen these big white spears of flowers in the flower district before...

...perhaps no coincidence that the Ace is mere minutes from said flower district?

And I simply could not get over this wonderfully absurd bouquet on the counter in Stumptown.

Now admittedly it is a tad blurry due to the poor quality of the camera, but in real life it actually did look nearly that fuzzy.  Almost like a series of giant purple cotton balls, like something out Willy Wonka.

And lastly, I loved the simplicity of this vaguely prehistoric looking arrangement in the window at Stumptown.

Unpretentious and understated, but just so stylish.

I was inspired myself to attempt a big, cheap and cheerful arrangement at home.

Easy peasy summer in a vase.  No tilting allowed.


Linda said...

I was once lucky enough to interview Jeff Leatham at the George V. He was really a great person and told me that he spent one million euros a year buying flowers-mostly in Amsterdam. He has two books out too on his arrangements.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Linda - You are so lucky!! I imagine that with such a creative mind he must be a great person to interview. I'll have to pick up those books, stat!

French Fancy said...

I've not had very good experiences with boutique hotels, often finding them trying to be too stylish and sacrificing comfort for elegance. When we stayed in NY we splashed out on an 18th floor room at the Ritz Carlton and it has to be up there in one of the top three places I have ever stayed.

I adore swanky hotels and if rich would probably choose to live in one.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Thanks for the shout out, Laura. The Ace was quite a memorable place to stay. Your flowers make me think of something I notice every time I'm in New York--that little bodegas on corners everywhere give over valuable store space to flowers. And they would only do that if New Yorkers like you bought them. Obviously you do. Very cool!

Carla said...

The Alvear Palace of Argentina is considered one of the best 10 hotels in the world. Pure luxe... Though I believe Argentina is not a country to stay in such a fancy hotel because you won´t be a minute there. There are so mnany things to do that there is no way you will stay for a whole day indoors, which is the time you need to really appreciate the elegancy of the hotel. That is why I recommend you to rent apartments in buenos aires  that are cheaper and you don´t need to stay there to feel that the money you paid was worth it!

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