September 2nd, 2009

The Jane Hotel

by Wendell Weeks • in Travel

“What floor, sir?”

I’ve been to New York City a number of times in the last few years.  Having moved to DC, Manhattan was suddenly irresistibly close (and DC is, well, not New York), so I’ve hopped on the train two or three times a year and treated myself to hotels using Hotwire.  I’ve stayed at three- and four-star places like the Hudson, Parker Meridien and Sheraton.  But when the man in the classic bellboy uniform operating the hand crank elevator asked me: “What floor, sir?” I was not at any of those hotels. I was at The Jane, and I was paying $79 a night.

Now, before you pick up the phone and book your family in for a week-long stay, there is a reason for that surprisingly low rate — one that definitely precludes your family from staying there. Actually, I’m 6′3″ and that almost precludes me from staying there by myself.

From the hotel’s site:

“Completed in 1908, the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute was designed by William A. Boring, the architect renowned for Ellis Island’s immigrant station.  Originally built as a hotel for sailors with cabin-like rooms, the landmarked hotel was lovingly restored on its centennial in 2008.”

Wait, what was that? Ohhhhhh cabin-like rooms.  I’m not quite sure what distinguishes them as cabin-like, as opposed to just… cabin, but yes, the rooms don’t make it hard to imagine you’re at sea, and staying in quarters that, based on size, designate you as a third-class passenger. But what the room lacks in space, it makes up in style (and besides, when you visit New York City who hangs out in their hotel?).

The cabins are genuinely charming and maximize the square footage they have to offer, with a luggage rack over the bed and two drawers beneath it (one of which provides a safe). You’ve also got all the modern amenities you could want, including a 23″ LCD TV with built-in DVD player, an iPod dock, air conditioning, and access to the hotel’s free WiFi.

When I was there, rooms other than the standard single-person cabin were still being renovated, but as of this writing, Bunk Bed Cabins appear to be available, while the Captain’s Cabins are said to be coming soon. Only the Captain’s Cabins will offer a private washroom — the other rooms share common bathrooms (also newly renovated) located in a couple of places on each floor. Note that the washrooms are co-ed — on my visit I did see a few women, but the guests were predominantly male. The showers and toilets all have full doors and are entirely private, but the adjoining sink area is common to all guests.

With the tiny room and shared bathrooms, staying at The Jane kind of felt like revisiting my days of staying at hostels, only with a serious upgrade in style and comfort. But if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it’s still worth a trip down to check out the outstanding bar.  If you do, Sunday night is the only quiet night — the bartender assured me that after 9pm on any other night, there’s a line up to get in.

The other great reason to come down to the area is to check out the recently opened High Line.  If you haven’t already heard of it, it’s a park developed on an old elevated freight train line that was built in the 1930s. There’s an entrance to the park just two blocks north of the hotel, and it’s well worth a visit.

The Jane is budget done right. The staff were all friendly and helpful and if you’re travelling alone, it’s a fantastic new place, definitely worth a look.

Related Info

The Jane Hotel
113 Jane Street
New York, NY 10014
212-924-6700
www.thejanenyc.com

The Jane Hotel Bar
www.eater.com/archives/2009/06/eater_inside_jane_hotel.php

The High Line
www.thehighline.org

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