Intrepid travelers

Last Wednesday (Leap day), Hudson and I checked into the Jane hotel for the day for an impromptu escape. There has been construction down the hall from us for the past few months (weeks and weeks of pounding, occasionally waking Hudson from his naps), but Wednesday was the day they would actually be jack-hammering and breaking through the ceiling (they’re combining two apartments, one on our floor with one above). Usually I would just have Hudson nap on the go, but it was also supposed to rain all day and maybe even snow. (These are the days when one wishes Manhattan had a mall.) It seemed like, for both our sanity, we should check into a hotel room for the day. There were some great midweek specials on Priceline, but I’ve always been curious about the Jane. It was an exciting little adventure!

It’s a unique hotel concept: For $79 a night, you can stay in one of their Standard Cabins– 50 square foot rooms with a twin bed and little else. (Or for $99/night, you get a bunk bed!)  The cabins were first designed to house sailors in 1908 and they are still more reminiscent of ship cabins than of hotel rooms. Still, they’re sort of amazing for such a tiny space: there’s a radio/ipod dock, a flat screen tv with a dvd player, a robe and slippers for the shared bathroom down the hall, wifi, and plenty of clever storage. And the whole place makes me feel like I’m walking into a Wes Anderson movie (especially the staff in classic bellhop uniforms).

It was actually perfect for us: we wouldn’t be there long enough to get cabin fever, and I could let Hudson play on the floor without worrying. All of our things could be stashed high above the bed and out of reach, and there wasn’t room for any mystery danger; there were no outlets along the wall, and nary a chair to be tipped!

The restaurant, Cafe Gitane, (same as the small, popular outpost in NoLita) has a roomy location in the lobby of the Jane and we started our morning there sipping coffee and munching on croissants (me), and  admiring the gold rivets on the banquets (him) before settling in. He then napped on my lap while I watched Pride & Prejudice (perfect for a dreary day) and ate avocado on toast from the restaurant.

I kept thinking that it would be perfect for young, intrepid travelers on a budget, staying just a night or two. I imagined a wedding party all getting cabins and then meeting in the gorgeous bar (below) for drinks at night, and in the cafe for breakfast the next morning. It’s in an amazing neighborhood on the Hudson river, right between the West Village and the Meatpacking, practically at the base of the High Line. They have bikes for guests’ use on a first-come, first-serve basis, which would be ideal for sunnier days. Since we didn’t stay the night, however, I can’t tell you whether all those little cabins make for a noisy night (probably), but I recommend earplugs for most light-sleepers anywhere in the city.

P.S. When we came back to our apartment, I was a little worried we would learn that the construction had been no big deal and we wasted our money. But it turned out that there had been such a mass of complaints throughout the building (things fell off shelves on the floor up from us) that we all got a letter clarifying the scope of the work! I think it was good we got out!

[photos in fourth collage via Jade Dressler and Gothamist; the rest are mine, blur in self-portrait contributed by Hudson]

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