Visiting New York is supposed to not be an emotional experience, right? Manhattan doesn’t “do” feelings and yet, somehow, when you momentarily lose yourself in the crowded sidewalks or look up from your slice of damn-is-that-good pizza to see the mirrored mass of the Freedom Tower you do feel different than you would almost anyplace else. You may not be a movie star, but being in that New York state of mind means being a part of the most magnificent and maddening metropolis in the world and your provisional participation is part and parcel of the magic. But as any New Yorker past or present will aver—and anyone hunting for an elusive cool hotel in this crowded town can attest—where you stay matters.
My recent Gotham hotel quest started with the habitual, desultory searches on Expedia and a couple newish hotel apps including the much-hyped Hotel Tonight (which, honestly, I can’t recommend). But then I shut it all down and let emotion do the heavy lifting: Where would the best place to stay be if I wanted to dodge tourist-choked Times Square and the Eurofash hordes of Soho but still be in the very heart of it, preferably with a dash of Empire State Art Deco panache? I thought back to a time when two tall towers rose, and where they did the rising, and I had the answer: the Wall Street area, or FiDi as the burgeoning Financial District is now called. Enter the Q&A Residential Hotel by Furnished Quarters.
It’s tucked inside the City Services Building, which soars almost a thousand feet over slender Pine Street, itself one short block from Wall Street. Built in 1932 and adorned with classic Art Deco flourishes, the landmark skyscraper is essentially the Financial District’s version of the Empire State Building. The Q&A makes its home in floors three through to six of the tower and its 132 apartment-style rooms offer “an unprecedented new option for extended stays in downtown New York.” This is “an ideal place to really settle in and conduct business in the city—with style and ease and room to spread out—Q&A was created to honor and host those who ask ‘What if?’ From the inventors of great legacy for which the 132 apartments are named to the travelers of today who venture to ask more of their base in Manhattan, Q&A invites and welcomes guests, questions, answers.”
That spin comes from the hotel’s own descriptions, but how apt they are: The Deluxe Studio Residence Apartment Edison Residence, for example, features design elements that honor the kinetographic camera, one of Edison’s light bulb ideas. But the true innovation here—and one that unites all thematic variations—is space: New York is notorious for serving up the most cramped quarters of any American city. Not here. Although suites vary in configuration, they all come with so much room to roam that you may not know what to do with it all—we’re talking voluminous. Work space? Check. Sitting area? Done. Full kitchen? Check. Dangerously comfortable mattresses that will keep you hitting the snooze button? Check. The aesthetic is cool, crisp and contemporary, with top notes of downtown power.
Whether you’re coming to New York for business or sightseeing or eating or shopping or whatever, you can recharge the right way when you “stay inventive” at the Q&A. Guests have complimentary access to La Palestra, a posh 8,000-square-foot gym at the basement level. In the morning you’ll find complimentary coffee on the third floor. There’s even a self-service laundry on the sixth floor. In short, you’re going to feel less like a tourist here and more like a New Yorker.
I know I did. Arriving on Pine Street after a quick subway ride from gloomy Penn Station, I saw the discreet entrance sign and made my way to the ground floor lobby where Marshall gave me a quick lowdown on my apartment’s features with just the right amount of New York sass… something one can come to sorely miss in anodyne California. Next came a great surprise: super swift elevators and no waiting for them. I cannot tell you how many long minutes I have waited at other New York hotels for elevators that are cramped and turtle-paced. This is FiDi, though, and no one’s got time to waste. The free WiFi was a breeze to use and, while I didn’t intend to cook, the kitchen did come in handy for keeping drinks cold and preparing some items from Gourmet Garage, the thinking dude’s Trader Joe’s and my favorite Manhattan grocery. I was all set in my posh perch. And if you book a studio at qandahotel.com you can be upgraded to a spacious one-bedroom apartment: Just enter the promo code “QAMALIBU.” Available with this rate plan only and in limited amount.