Ever quick on the uptake, New York’s most fashionable hotels are providing a stylish solution: bespoke vintage bikes for guests to explore the city on. The trend tends towards Dutch bikes that combine retro charm with new technology, complete with cushioned saddles so they’re comfy to ride all day, and upright handlebars so the rider can sit up and take in the sights as they scoot around the city.ù
New York is well geared up for cyclists. Protected bike paths weave all over it – there’s one running around almost the entire perimeter of Manhattan, for example – and hotels can all provide guests with personalised maps and guides. Alternatively, download a PDF of bike lanes from http://www.nycgo.com, or visit http://www.bikenewyork.org for more information on cycling in New York.
Here are some of our favourite hotels embracing the vintage bike revolution. All we need now is for someone to design us a cool helmet. >
Pictured: customised bikes at the Soho Grand, made by Bowery Lane Bicycles
In West Chelsea, the Hôtel Americano – a business-but-still-cool hotel which was opened last autumn by those crazy Mexicans at Grupo Habita – has a fleet of Dutch Vanmoof Number 5s for guests to speed around town on. They are fast and lightweight, with solar-powered lights and a built-in chain, so your favourite holiday wardrobe won’t get all gnarled-up and oily.
Hôtel Americano, 518 West 27th Street, New York (00 1 212 216 0000; www.hotel-americano.com)
The orange bikes at Tribeca Grand reflect something of the hotel’s style: bold, masculine, with an air of retro glamour. There’s nothing retro about the technology; made by Public, they are specifically designed to handle New York’s curbs and potholes, with pedals that can be pumped in anything from sandals to high heels (keeping the Sartorialist in mind).
Tribeca Grand, 2 Avenue of the Americas, New York (00 1 212 519 6600; www.tribecagrand.com)
The Soho Grand has gone for an appropriately vintage style of Dutch bike, made locally by New York’s very own Bowery Lane Bicycles company. There are versions for both male and female guests; and we particularly love the retrouvé wooden crate on the back – a nice alternative to the basket – which can hold a healthy picnic packed by the hotel, or finds from Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market.
Soho Grand, 310 West Broadway, New York (00 1 212 965 3000; www.sohograndhotel.co.uk)
The Mark, a youthfully luxurious hotel on the Upper East Side, has commissioned Republic Bikes to fashion them a fleet of suitably fabulous steeds. The bikes incorporate elements of the 1920s hotel’s lavish interior – overhauled three years ago by Jacques Grange, whose designs grace the interiors of some of the most fabulous hotels in the world – such as monochrome stripes on the chaincase, MARK1 licence plates and a monogrammed bell.
To pack in the basket on the front, the hotel’s star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has put together a super-indulgent picnic of shrimp salad and truffle pizza, cupcakes and Champagne; it even comes with a picnic blanket.
The Mark, 25 East 77th Street, New York (00 1 212 744 4300); www.themarkhotel.com
Piece by Laura Fowler for CN Traveller on Line