At the end of August, as summer was coming to an end here in the UK, I headed to sunny New York City for a lovely, long, culture-packed weekend with my boyfriend. I’ll be penning a NYC travel guide shortly, but wanted to share a review of where we stayed first – because it ticks all the boxes in terms of minimal design and Scandinavian furniture.
11 Howard is a 221-room boutique hotel that opened last year in New York City’s central and decidedly hip SoHo neighbourhood. We had been staying in an Airbnb, but when things didn’t work out (for reasons I don’t really want to remember…) I knew exactly where I wanted to check in. For 11 Howard is designed by Anda Andrei and my favourite Danish architecture and design practice Space Copenhagen. The hotel combines the DNA of Scandinavian design with the raw and industrial feeling of New York.
If you’re not familiar with Space Copenhagen – established in 2005 by Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou – you might have seen one of their spaces or even sat on one of their pieces of furniture. They’ve designed chairs for brands such as Fredericia, &tradition, Gubi and Mater, and spaces for Michelin-starred restaurants (mainly in Copenhagen), the likes of Noma, Geranium and Geist.
Space Copenhagen’s design philosophy is grounded in the Nordic tradition, but their sincere, emotive way of working takes into account atmosphere, feeling, texture and geometry. That translates, at 11 Howard, into rooms that are pared-back and minimal yet calm, warm and welcoming. There’s a focus on textures and natural materials, from the leather headboards and rough wooden bedside tables to the dusty pink throws and velvety rugs underfoot.
The rooms appear meticulously designed, as if every object has been carefully handpicked to complement one another. Fine craftsmanship is evident throughout the hotel, everything is crisply detailed and refined, and there wasn’t too many signs of wear and tear after a year of opening.
‘We’re really interested in materials – stone, woods, leathers,’ says Space Copenhagen co-founder Signe Bindslev Henriksen. ‘We love things that age well. It’s part of our responsibility that a project lives on in a beautiful manner long after we’ve left.’
Our bedroom was mostly taken up by a huge kingsize bed that you just wanted to leap right into, but there were some lovely little details too. The neutral decor is brought to life by ceramic artwork by Katie Yang and furniture designed by Space Copenhagen. Each room has an armchair from their Fly Collection for &tradition and bespoke lighting designed especially for 11 Howard.
Bathrooms are finished in porcelain tiles, with marble countertops and brass trimmings. Grown Alchemist products and fluffy white towels provide an element of quiet luxury.
Space Copenhagen designed 11 Howard to feel residential: more like a home than a hotel. While the lobby has the feel of an art gallery, with pieces of contemporary artwork and barely any furniture, head upstairs to the lounge and it’s a more relaxed and informal setting.
‘We build spaces that feel honest,’ Rutzou says. ‘We create spatial expressions of a client’s creative profile, whether that’s a chef or hotelier or architect. Most importantly, everything we create revolves around the human factor. We’re always thinking about the impact space has on people.’
This space is called ‘The Library’. You can have breakfast here in the lounge chairs, stop for a coffee or spend an afternoon working from its big communal dining table. There’s intimate clusters of seats and tables, mostly designed by Space Copenhagen or unique pieces commissioned by them. Again, texture plays a key part, from the wide wood floorboards and the floaty linen curtains to the velvet armchairs and sheepskin throws.
There’s some really stunning, one-off pieces, such as this brass leaf lamp and a few art books dotted around
Downstairs next to the lobby there is also a small gallery by Studio Oliver Gustav that is well worth popping into. The rough-around-the-edges boutique, featuring this gorgeous distressed wall, offers unique and limited edition pieces and a collection of dyed hemp or linen sofas and armchairs.
All in all, here’s a list of the plus points and low points of 11 Howard to give you an idea of what to expect when you stay.
11 Howard Pros
– Central location in trendy SoHo
– Friendly staff
– Fast WiFi
– Lovely lounge area to relax or work in
– Very clean, stylish rooms
– Beautifully Scandinavian design
– Extremely comfy beds
– Superb quality crisp white sheets
– Grown Alchemist bathroom products
11 Howard Cons
– Breakfast is an extra charge
– Complimentary (only filter) coffee ends at 9am, too early for a lie in!
– Rooms are fairly small with a lack of storage space (ours was a King), especially for large suitcases with nowhere to open them out
– No tea or coffee facilities in the room
– Be aware that you can feel the vibrations of the subway and hear noise from adjacent rooms
11 Howard is a beautiful, design-led hotel – a real treat for us during a special weekend in NYC. I’d definitely be back again for another chic city break, you can’t beat the bliss of a luxuriously comfy bed and crisp white sheets after a day out and about shopping and sightseeing. It’s a little piece of Scandi heaven in the hustle and bustle of New York.
All images Cate St Hill