Robb Report Singapore’s New York correspondent Michael Levin shares why he’s fallen hard for Soho House
I’ve never felt so sad leaving a hotel room as I did after vacating my huge, magnificent accommodations at Soho House New York on a visit last week. In case you’re not familiar with Soho House, it’s a worldwide collection of private clubs founded in 1995 by the peripatetic, hospitality-minded Nick Jones. And if you’re visiting New York, this is the private club where you, and your associates, will be most welcome.
Soho House New York is located in the Meatpacking District, a classy, upscale neighborhood just south of 14th Street and east of the Hudson River. The Meatpacking District is one of New York’s most up and coming districts, with every top brand name you can think of in the neighborhood. Soho House also offers easy access to the High Line, a former elevated train track that has been turned into an extraordinary walking and running path above the West Side.
Soho House is a fairly exclusive club; you’ve got to be nominated by two members to join, and it doesn’t hurt if you are in a creative field. The good news is that non-members can book hotel rooms and enjoy all the amenities of the 23 clubs worldwide.
Once you’ve got your room at Soho House New York, you can enjoy the well turned out club spaces and seventh floor swimming pool. These areas are communal work and socialising spaces during the day – no photos allowed, however – and party central by night.
Part of the appeal of Soho House for overseas visitors is the fact that they get to actually interact with real, live New Yorkers, instead of finding themselves in a hotel lobby staring at other people who have just got off long-distance flights. The rule against photos and phone calls in the work and socialising areas protects the privacy of members, some of whom are celebrities.
The absence of phones also creates an atmosphere that is highly conducive to conversations with people at the next table over, making new friends, and connecting with new potential business partners, usually revolving around the arts. You could pay twice as much at a five-star hotel in Midtown and never experience any of the relaxation, friendship and connection that Soho House offers.
There’s a concept at Disney that perhaps only one in a hundred guests might notice a particular detail, but everybody can feel perfection. That is exactly the experience you have at Soho House.
Wherever you look, there’s another beautiful touch, an extraordinary design element, an oversized bed in your humongous room, natural hair and grooming products by the great big working bathtub in your bedroom and equally lovely touches like blankets for cool nights when you want to lie out by the seventh floor pool with your friends. It’s hard to point to too many things in life that run perfectly, but Soho House is certainly one of them.
New Yorkers may claim to be the most worldly people on Earth, but they are exceptionally parochial, seldom straying from their neighborhoods without an awfully good reason. Many New Yorkers have never been to Soho House, although most have heard of it, and you really cannot find a place to schedule a meeting or personal event that offers more cachet, hipness, and relevance.
You can also join Soho House through their Cities Without Houses programme even if there is no Soho House in your city. This gives you Soho House programming within your city and access to clubs all over the world – roughly two dozen at last count. There is also a new club opening up soon in Los Angeles’ arts district and a non-residential club about to come online in Hong Kong.
Each of the clubs around the world is subtly different from its fellows, which means that members frequently want to visit other cities, even places that are familiar to them, so they can experience variations on the Soho House theme.
If you’re travelling to New York, you could stay somewhere other than Soho House, but you’d be missing out on a subtly delightful experience that no hotel chain could possibly replicate. And if you feel just as sad as I did when it comes time for you to leave, I will understand why.