Housed in a former printing press building just a couple of blocks from the Hudson River, Ink 48 is in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. This property, situated on West 48th at 11th, was constructed in the 1930s and was originally home to a printing press – hence the name for this 17-storey property.
We chose the hotel based on a great stay earlier this year at another Kimpton hotel, and also on the basis of all the good things we’d heard about Hell’s Kitchen. Neither disappointed, as you can see from the view I enjoyed from the hotel’s Press Lounge atop the hotel. I had the Upper West Side behind me, and the Hudson River on the other side. We enjoyed the same skyline view from our spacious, loft-like room.
Hotel guests are able to enjoy such great views of the Manhattan skyline from the privacy of their rooms as well as the rooftop bar, because many of the cross streets (with exceptions such as 42nd and 57th Streets) in Hell’s Kitchen have height restrictions.
Two-Legged and Four-Legged Guests Welcome
We were taken good care of by Daniel, seen above with the equally hospitable Musah. The staff and lobby are both welcoming, and I particularly liked the abundance of woods incorporated in the trendy decor.
Pets are also welcome here and, having stayed at a Kimpton before, we weren’t surprised to see a couple of recently returned bikes in the lobby. The bikes are complimentary for guests wanting to explore the city on wheels. You can stop by the lobby for complimentary morning tea and coffee, or for afternoon wine, just around the lobby corner from PRINT restaurant and bar. Without exception, I found all the hotel staff we encountered to be friendly and helpful.
Making You Feel at Home
I like that the lobby provides ample opportunities for socialising – with your own companions, and new acquaintances – but also provides some quiet little nooks and crannies. The Kimpton brand is great at making guests feel at home in other ways, as well. In addition to the complimentary wine hour, and morning coffee and tea service, there are nice little touches such as the courtesy iPad (above) in the lobby.
Forget About It
If you did forget something from home, you’ll be glad of Kimpton’s complimentary “Forgot It? We’ve Got It!” service. I learned about this at Hotel Monaco in Old Town Alexandria, where management had a friendly sign in my room listing just all the small conveniences that were at the ready if needed. We were well organised for our NYC trip, but I was grateful for the nail polish remover staff brought to the room on request; much better than travelling across borders with a bottle of the stuff.
Guests have four core suite options at Ink 48, all of them generously proportioned by New York standards. Suites range in size from 400 to 600 square feet, with views of either Manhattan or the Hudson River. If you’re feeling flush and decadent, you may want to book the hotel penthouse – also known as the Heaven Over Hell suite. There, you’ll have 1,100 square feet of indoor space, with floor to ceiling windows. With your very own 2,200 square foot rooftop terrace, you may be inclined to invite some friends over to enjoy the killer views.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at our room; we went for the Manhattan view, and could easily spot Times Square. We had a spacious (500 square feet) and very open Junior Studio. You’ll see the massive wall of windows, which gave us impressive daytime and evening views. I’ve already come to expect clean, well kept rooms at Kimpton, and Ink 48 delivered.
In addition to the oversized tub, we had a separate walk-in shower. If you’re not inclined to brush your teeth or settle into a bubble bath in front of your fellow traveller, you can get a studio with a smaller living area adjoined by a large, fully enclosed bathroom. Either way, you’ll appreciate the C.O. Bigelow toiletries.
I loved the soaring ceiling and King sized bed, and appreciated the little touches in our room. There are ample bedside charging opportunities for those of us who travel with smartphones and at least another piece of hardware. You’ll see the photos flanking our headboard, and the hallways leading to our suites housed some gorgeous and nostalgic New York images.
Don’t Miss The Press Lounge
Here are some more looks at that skyline from The Press Lounge, designed by Carlos Zapata. Ink 48 has a separate entry for those heading up to soak up the views and a few drinks at the 3,000 square foot rooftop, and there’s also a separate elevator with doormen once you’re inside.
Lineups are the norm here, which is understandable since the Press Lounge is acknowledged as being among Manhattan’s finest rooftop bars. As hotel guests, we were given priority access.
Private events at NYC rooftop bars
If you stay at the hotel and want to enjoy this gorgeous rooftop bar, check with the staff as to when it will be open. Many rooftop bars in New York are often closed for private events, and that was the case until late in the evening on our first night in town. We stayed at Ink 48 for two nights before moving on to another Manhattan neighbourhood, and spent much of that time out and about, enjoying the city. We did pop up to the Press Lounge a couple of times, but both instances served as opportunities for brief downpours that were actually rather welcome given the hot, sunny skies we enjoyed most of our stay. Next visit, we’ll have to make a point of making our way to the rooftop under clear skies.
Would You Want to Drive in This?
Looking at the traffic down West 48th from the rooftop bar, I was reminded of the Seinfeld episode where George bought a Frogger video game machine. You might remember the sight of George working the machine across a busy New York street, navigating around vehicles much like the frog from the video game. The hotel provides 24-hour valet parking, but we were distinctly comfortable making our way around town by foot and by subway.
You can do this simply by walking Manhattan. If you like to stick to routines, though, Ink 48 has you covered. The fitness centre is compact but well equipped, and it’s open 24 hours a day; it’s just down the hall from the Ink Spa.
We also had our own in-room yoga mat. If you’re heading for a run through Central Park or along the piers, you may want to take advantage of Kimpton’s complimentary Runner’s Amenity Kit.
It’s little wonder that Ink 48 and Kimpton’s three other NYC hotels are proclaimed runner-friendly for those entering the NYC Marathon. Make a call downstairs, and you’ll be given any or all of the following, simply because you’re a guest: city running map … running water belt … your choice of water, vitamin water or gatorade … heart rate monitor … ear buds … iPod shuffle, pre-loaded with playlists
Hell’s Kitchen extends from the Hudson River to Eighth Avenue, and spans from West 34th up to 59th Street. You have Chelsea to the south, the Theatre District to the east, and the Upper West Side with Central Park and Lincoln Square to the north.
We’ve visited some wonderful cities and properties. Views aside, another major advantage of staying at Ink 48 is that you’re in an actual neighbourhood as opposed to staying in an isolated tourists’ bubble. Hell’s Kitchen has emerged from its tough as nails reputation to one of an increasingly expensive, artsy and gentrified (if colourful) neighbourhood that’s retained its character.
The neighbourhood has a more upscale name, Clinton, from the 60s, and you’ll also hear people referring to it as Midtown West. You’re just a short walk from Off Broadway, and you’ll find yourself walking past the local taxi dispatch, a bakery, a gated community garden and park, and more than a few delis as well as Gotham Market and gorgeous brownstones on your way to any of a number of cafes and restaurants.
You’ll see car dealerships and office buildings from your window, and businesses that would be there whether or not tourists visited the area. You’re just a corner or two away from leafy streets and lovely homes, and a block from Hell’s Kitchen Park, where we were happy to have brief conversations with locals who didn’t treat us as tourists.
Walking Off Those New York Bagels
… and other meals. You’re about five blocks away from the subway, but Manhattan is highly walkable and Ink 48 proved to be a great home base.
On our first full day in New York, I hoofed it from the hotel for a morning meeting on West 57th by 5th – just a stone’s throw from Central Park. Along the way, I passed landmarks such as Radio City Hall.
That same day, after brunch in Hell’s Kitchen Park, we made our way to the High Line – courtesy of a tip from Lynn and Justin, who write about New York at MadHattersNYC. We’d heard about the High Line, but there’s only so much you can fit into a week in New York, and we might otherwise have missed it in our plans. This elevated greenway opened in 2009, and is deservedly popular with visitors and locals alike.
While a bit stark at our entry point, looking out over the Hudson, this former rail track gives you a 2.3 km/1.45 mile tour with killer views above the streets of Manhattan. As we made our way to Chelsea and Greenwich Village, the High Line gave great glimpses into construction of the massive development known as Hudson Yards. It’s also the largest private real estate development to date in the US. A total of 28 acres of construction is underway, on an elevated platform above these historic train yards.
There are some gorgeous plantings along the High Line, and you can readily pop down into neighbourhoods along the way. If you take the full route, you’ll find a vantage point with views of the Statue of Liberty.
We enjoyed the High Line through to its other end, at Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District – where you’ll find yourself at Whitney Museum of American Art.
What’s in a Name?
Hell’s Kitchen wasn’t always so visitor-friendly. You’d never know it from some of the gorgeous properties just a couple of blocks from our hotel, but the Hell’s Kitchen name stems back to 1881 (if not earlier). That’s when the New York Times wrote about one particularly nasty block.
West 39th, between 10th and 11th, was known as Battle Row, and the paper dubbed one of the tenement buildings on the block as “Hell’s Kitchen”. The Hell’s Kitchen Gang made their way into Herbert Asbury’s 1927 book, The Gangs of New York – which eventually made its way to film.
Others will tell you that the area first earned its moniker came from a conversation between two of New York’s finest, when the rookie of the two cops commented, “This place is hell itself.” His more experienced partner’s response? “Hell’s a mild climate. This is hell’s kitchen.”
Corporate Travel and Events
Ink 48 has 6,000 square feet in total available meeting space. The Heaven Over Hell’s penthouse suite would be ideal for a corporate gathering or launch, as you could host a hundred people for a reception, or 45 for a seated event. The other meeting facilities play further on the printing press theme; the Garamond and Helvetica Meeting Room seats up to 75, while the Courier Meeting Room would work well for meetings with a couple of dozen or so people.
This brand’s boutique hotels are certified by both the TripAdvisorGreenLeaders™ Program and, since 2011, by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program. These reflect the Kimpton practices including eco-friendly (and lovely) bath products, energy-efficient lighting, recycling bins in guest rooms, low-flow water toilets, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and more. The hotel features local and sustainable dining options on the menus at both The Press Lounge and Print menus.
The brand’s rewards program is known as Karma Rewards. Membership provides you with complimentary wi fi, bar and spa credits, and potential to earn free stays.
Ink 48 was also named Corporate Citizen of the Year by HotelWorld Global Hospitality & Design Awards; that honour reflects design and hospitality excellence. With almost 3,000 visitors’ reviews, the hotel also has a Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence.
Would I Stay There Again?
In a New York Minute. Actually, Kimpton has a range of choices in the city, and I’d also like to explore their offerings in Chelsea (Hotel Eventi) and Broadway/Times Square (Muse).
Planning To Go: The Lowdown
Getting there: You have your choice of three airports: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) or Newark’s (EWR’s) Liberty International Airport. The hotel website has directions for driving, cabbing or taking a shuttle from each of these, and also coordinates town car service. Arriving by train? Check out service via Penn Station or the landmark Grand Central Station.
Property coordinates: website (click here) Address: 653 11th Avenue New York, NY 10036 Phone: 212-757-0088
Ink 48: Thank you for making this stay possible, and kudos to Daniel, Faith, Musah and the rest of your gracious team. As always, perspectives are entirely my own.
Fav neighbourhood deli and restaurants: We made a couple of beverage runs to 5 Brothers Gourmet Deli, and the food looked tempting enough that we turned to them for a late brunch that we enjoyed across the street, in Hell’s Kitchen Park. We tried three neighbourhood restaurants for dinners, and I can happily recommend two casual spots. For those who like Italian food (and who doesn’t?), Patzeria Family & Friends is a very good choice. Decor is unassuming, but the food and service are great. You’ll see pre- and post-theatre lineups, but the time flies and you can also make reservations. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, do not miss the opportunity to dine at Anejo. It has atmosphere, good service and delicious offerings.
Sights to see: In addition to Central Park, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center and all the other sights and shopping you’ve heard about, those of you who like walking will want to make time for the High Line.