Saturday, December 15, 2007

Soho House

Earlier this week, my department at work had one of those "offsite brainstorming" meetings that are so popular in corporate culture. I'm not really here to talk about that, though. The nice thing about meetings like this (and they do this on purpose) is that you almost always end up going somewhere that you'd otherwise either a) never be able to afford, or b) never even be allowed into, or c) both. This was definitely an option "c" situation. We went to Soho House.

I'd never heard of Soho House, probably because I am not rich or famous or well-connected. This is one of those members-only clubs, though with a pretty distinct downtown Manhattan style. There is no sign outside. It shares in common with the old "gentlemen's clubs" that to get in at all, you need to be invited by an existing member and seconded by another. Even our corporate group had to be invited - we were the guest of a member who's a VP at my company. The dues are actually not ludicrously expensive ($1,400 per year), but the point is it's just damn difficult to become a member to begin with. And of course the food and drinks are still pretty outrageously-priced, even with the member dues.

There is also a hotel on the other floors that anyone can stay at... if you happen to have $495 a night to start, that is. It goes up from there. And good luck finding a room to book; it seems to be full pretty much all the time. There are only 24 rooms.

They have a roof that you can go to - unfortunately it's December so it wasn't really "open" when we were there, but we went up anyway. Here's the view:

Eh, not that great, but not bad. The Hudson River's off to the right, which is probably nice at other times of year. They also have a heated pool and spa up there, which were covered up for winter.

Some of the Christmas decorations:

The layout of the place is strange - it's hard to really get a sense of it in pictures. In the photo at the top, it just looks like a box, but that's only one corner of it. There are these individual rooms like the one above all around, but they're only separated by these glass walls, so the whole place feels totally open and somewhat industrial. It's basically a huge loft space, divided up into distinct areas. Like I said, it's downtown.

The design style is pretty eclectic, with everything from traditional brown leather chairs to retro-60's pieces to ultra-modern, almost IKEA type stuff. The floors are all rustic wood, the ceilings unpainted tin. The main dining room furniture is all natural, heavy wood. The overall effect is modern, but with a lot of authentic period details. Nothing's fake or "faux" anything, although I could probably live without the plastic chairs that pass for high style these days.

Mmmm, the wine collection!

And my co-workers enjoying a drink in the bar area after the meeting:

It was our intern's last day, so we were giving her a proper send-off. It looks like an all male crowd in that photo, but that's just how the picture worked out. There are two girls (and the arm of another) in the picture - see if you can spot them!

I also gotta say that I had a Vodka tonic - my drink of choice - and they had pretty much every brand of high-end vodka you could name. I ended up with Grey Goose, which I gotta admit does go down a lot smoother than Stoli or Absolut or any of the other mass market brands. And I was pretty tipsy after only one drink - which I'd better have been considering it cost about $20! (Not that I was paying.)

I looked around hoping to spot some celebrities, although let's be honest - you can see celebrities in New York just walking down the street. I've literally almost bumped into a few, especially when I actually worked in SoHo (Soho House is named after Soho in London, where it originated - the New York branch is actually in the meatpacking district). I did see a few people at Soho House that definitely looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place them. Probably character actors, theater actors or maybe even just corporate CEO's that I've read about and seen pictures of before.

It is nice to see how the other half lives once in a while, though this place isn't traditional luxury by any stretch. Downtown Manhattan has its own feel; you've seen it in movies and TV shows if you don't live here, it's that "warehouse chic" style that attracts media types and artists of various kinds. Some people who aren't used to it may not even understand the appeal. But it's like anything else; once you get used to it, you learn to separate the high end from the low... and this place is about as high end as downtown Manhattan gets.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Interesting. I often wonted what is the point in place like that. U spend a lot of money in something that can't hug you, talk to you or tell a joke.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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