The Lobbyist: The NoMad

Nomad-Hotel-Facade-510x432 The Lobbyist is a division of JBLY that specifically handles reviews of hotel lobbies and hotel bars.  If you’ve got a good suggestion (or, preferably, a bad one) for a place I should visit, please send me an email at jennyblovesyoudaily@gmail.com.

Sink into the velvety luxury of an art deco sofa while you soak up the chilled out vibes purring from the stereo. Is that Radiohead? Evan Voytas? Foals? I have no idea, but it’s chill. Yes, in the black and gold womb of the NoMad’s boudoir-inspired lobby, you’ll feel your cares slip away, instantly forgetting that guy who didn’t call you back last week, that $2,500 dental bill, or the fact you’ve made the journey to pseudo-gentrifying buttfuck Flatiron, where, just hours ago, men were slanging jugs of body oil and fake gold chains the size of nautical ropes. “Shhhh,” the NoMad whispers. “None of that matters anymore.”

It’s true; it doesn’t. Let this sexy beast pillow talk the shit out of you. It has all the slinky vibes of Paris’ Hotel Costes, minus all that fashion week BS and the whole oui oui oui Grey Poupon French-y thing. Unless of course, that’s your jam, which is completely acceptable. I like inhaling secondhand smoke and not eating 30 euro salads just as much as the next supermodel.

WHEN:

Because I’m incapable of reading text messages intelligently, I found myself sitting in the lobby waiting for a friend who I had – quite incorrectly – assumed to be staying there. Nevertheless, it was the perfect opportunity for a Lobbyist, given that this joint is too expensive and dignified for the Brooklyn skeeze I run with.

WEAR:

Despite the clienteles’’ collective tax bracket, the fashion left a little to be desired. There was the lady with the $2,200 Goyard tote and the New Balances (rich people casual). Then came the Tory Burch outfit (for the WASP in your life who’s just, ugh, bored of Lilly Pulitzer). The shining beacon of hope, however, was the group of men in black and white, sporting bowties and good manners.

Negative points go to the 65-year-old man who checked me out like he had a chance, though, in truth, I myself was wearing the leather mini-dress I sported three years ago with ripped tights, smeared lipstick, and leaves smashed into my hair when I dressed like a [insert something completely offensive here] for Halloween. So, that said, considering the circumstances, he likely thought I was 1) a prostitute, 2) a sexy foreign exchange student from Holland, 3) all of the above. Lurking is to be expected.

SEEN:

Older men with age-appropriate wives, French people, a good-looking employee with shaggy hair (likely a resident of Brooklyn).

HEARD:

“Dad, what’s your color acuity?”

“Well, Sally, what do you mean? Hue? Saturation? Brightness?”

This is the type of learned downtown conversation I never had growing up. My parents could give two shits about color acuity; it was all, “Hey, get good grades and play sports so you can go to college. I don’t care if you’re color blind.”

EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY OR WHATEVER

The NoMad – the restaurant adjacent the lobby, in particular — attracts that rich and successful 40+ crowd who doesn’t mind journeying towards middle-Manhattan for $8 radish snacks. If you’re feeling flush, there’s also the $78 whole roasted chicken for two, which comes with fancy things like foie gras, black truffle, and brioche. For those of you who have had the $7 chicken from Costco and call bullshit, there are hundreds of five-star reviews on this dish on Yelp.. So there. Being rich really does taste better.

THE LOBBYIST RATING: 5/5 KATE MOSSES

True, the Flatiron District is this weird, ambiguous No Man’s Land, but you know what? So was Soho… and Tribeca… and Williamsburg. And you know what happened to those places? They got real expensive and filled up with douche bags. The Flatiron isn’t like that yet, and neither is the NoMad. So get there while the getting’s good. Just don’t forget to buy me a drink.

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Kate Moss: The gold standard in everything. 

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The Lobbyist: The Carlyle Hotel

The Lobbyist is a division of JBLY that specifically handles reviews of hotel lobbies and hotel bars.  If you’ve got a good suggestion (or, preferably, a bad one) for a place I should visit, please send me an email at jennyblovesyoudaily@gmail.com.

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“I’m running late. Wait for me in the lobby,” Eva texts. “And DO NOT sit at the bar alone because people will think you are a prostitute.”

Far be it from me to intrude on the thoughts of others, but I heed Eva’s advice and wait for her in the elevator foyer of the Carlyle Hotel, where I am treated to the distant tinkling of piano keys and bear witness to the emergence of various fancy old ladies in heels of a sensible height from a set of white-paneled doors. Tragedy strikes when a very well-to-do young child by the name of “Bunny” slips on the black marble floors. Her parents fawn over her in a polite, quiet way, so as to not disturb the nearby flower arrangements.

Oh, sweet luxury. Welcome me with open arms, you beautiful bastard.

When:

The older I get, the more I find myself craving white tablecloths and black lacquered doors, which means I either have to start spending more time on the Upper East Side or move to London. And because I’m not one for pints, bangers and/or mash, pasty-faced boyfriends with questionable grills, days that feel like wrapping yourself in wet blankets, and the two shits I don’t give about Prince William and that Kate chick, I’ll have to stick Stateside. The Carlyle it is.

Wear:

The Carlyle isn’t one of those “See and Be Seen” types of places, at least in the traditional, downtown sense. Most of the people here were over the age of fifty, so it was more like a “Make Sure You Bring Your Bifocals So You Can See and Be Seen” type of place. Let’s just say that Eva and I were certainly the only ones without gray hair and healthy 401ks. That being said, we still dressed to the nines, ensuring that we were absolutely going to be mistaken for prostitutes… but expensive ones!

Speaking of which… I heard a fun little story about the Carlyle the other night. Two young women, close to Eva and I in age, were in the bar when they were approached by an older man who, after a few drinks, invited them up to his room. The one friend protested outright; the other was a little less hesitant. The prude struck a bargain with the older man: If my friend isn’t back down here in 10 minutes, I’m calling security. The slut, the prude, and the older man shook hands. The deal was made. [For those of you considering a similar future venture, keep in mind that while 10 minutes doesn’t seem terribly generous for untoward fornicating, it would take a lesser amount to just straight up murder someone or quickly whisk them away to a life in an Ohio basement.]

What follows is not terribly surprising, given that, in my personal experience, hotel rooms have not been for friendly (clothed) conversations on beds since I played travel softball in 1994. Once inside the confines of his  $800-per-night Superior King Room, the older man swiftly pulled out an arsenal of whips, nipple clamps, and wooden paddles. “Beat me,” he commanded. The girl, an idiot and a tease in the most generous sense of the word, protested: “I think you got the wrong idea.” Just then, security literally barreled through the door, coming face-to-face with the old man, undressed and holding his S & M wares, and the young woman.

The lesson of this story? Wear what you want to the bar, keep your weird stuff in your room upstairs, and never strike one-night-stand bargains that entail potential encounters with security.

Seen:

My future ex-husband. When I said that Eva and I were the only ones in the room without gray hair, I forgot to include the dirty-blonde, plush-bearded Frenchman sitting next to us, drinking a whisky whilst wearing a blazer. My hopes were swiftly dashed, however, when he was joined by a blonde woman who, by Eva’s description, was wearing a “knockoff Missoni and a bun with a claw clip.”

Heard:

“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you.” A woman has saddled up beside me wearing one of those expressions that looks like a combination of embarrassed, indebted, and truly apologetic. “This guy over there, who isn’t, like, really a friend or anything, just asked me if you maybe wanted him to get you a drink or something. You do whatever you like; I’ve just been sent here to tell you.”

True, her salesmanship is a little lackluster, but she wasn’t working with the easiest of products. I look towards the bar at a man with shiny hair and a suit with pronounced pinstripes, visible from my place at the back of the room.

“Thanks so much,” I say, “but please tell him I have a boyfriend.”

Assured that I have slammed the nail down in that coffin, I venture to the bathroom an hour later, only to return to what I can best describe as what it must feel like to see a missile coming towards you only seconds before impact. In all my time in bars, I have never before seen someone so determined, fast on his feet, or shamefully obvious.

“Hello,” he booms. “I have heard you have boyfriend?”

“Yeahhh…”

“My family owns [BLANK] Chicken. You know it?”

“I’ve ordered shawarma there.”

Nothing screams potential romance like a nostalgic vision of florescent lights, plastic yellow booths, cracked tile, and “Number 31, your order is ready!”

“You seem very nice. Won’t you let me buy you a drink?”

Here is the point where I tell him “You had me at ‘Chicken.’” We sit at the bar and I call my fake boyfriend, and have a fake conversation where I tell him that I am breaking up with him. “I’ve met a chicken heir!” I yell into a phone with no one on the other end. “And I will have hummus aplenty for all my livelong days.” My fake boyfriend understands, given that he knows my fondness for chickpeas. Chicken Man and I sit at the bar, sharing stories about pita bread and decide to get married around midnight.

Or not.

“Sorry, I still have a boyfriend,” I say, and then I walk back towards my booth and make sure to cram myself extra tight next to Eva. “Don’t let me out of your sight,” I command.

Eat, Drink, Be Merry or Whatever: 

As I was feeling quite peckish when I arrived, I devoured the bar nuts accompanying a flute of champagne I didn’t bother drinking. It would be hard for me to accurately rate either in good conscious. Eva’s boyfriend, however, was more familiar with the menu, and he assured me that their burger is one of the best uptown.

Eva’s boyfriend also shared this fascinating (though completely inedible tidbit) with us: The wall murals were made by the children’s book author and illustrator (and rumored pedophile) behind the beloved series, Madeline. He reportedly stayed at the hotel for free in exchange for this work, having fled his native France after allegedly molesting a young girl. Since nothing makes me want to get drunk quite like evading criminal charges, it seems a pretty fitting choice for bar décor. You know, if it’s even true.

The Lobbyist Rating: 5/5 Kate Mosses

The Carlyle Hotel is one of those Upper East Side establishments brimming with the clean lines and shiny polish I simply can’t find close to home. (Brooklyn, as many of you well know, is known more for its repurposed wooden floors, tin ceilings, unwashed gentry, and hamburgers that come from cows with names.) As I enter a more dignified era, I can only hope that my nights are increasingly spent this way – fending off men with food empires, not drinking $20 beverages, and avoiding all offers of being taken upstairs “just for ten minutes.” Can’t wait to come back.

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The Lobbyist: Hotel Costes, Paris

The Lobbyist is a division of JBLY that specifically handles reviews of hotel lobbies and hotel bars.  If you’ve got a good suggestion (or, preferably, a bad one) for a place I should visit, please send me an email at jennyblovesyoudaily@gmail.com.

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Welcome to Hotel Costes, the sluttier Parisian cousin of the Chateau Marmont.

With its shiny, black lacquered façade sitting on Rue Saint Honore, Hotel Costes screams sex – French maid, velvety boudoir, Eyes Wide Shut sex. Once inside, things get even steamier, with dim lighting and drippy chandeliers, plush furniture and beautiful rugs strewn everywhere. I kind of imagine this is the Paris Henry Miller wrote about in Tropic of Cancer, minus all of the starving artist poverty and whores’ flats jumping with bedbugs. So, yeah, maybe not like Tropic of Cancer at all.

When:

Paris Fashion Week. 4 p.m., to be exact. Eva woke me up from a luxurious mid-day nap to meet her PR rep for “lunch.” I’d been once before, around 5 in the morning, after an evening of dancing at a place where a cover band sang late ‘90s classics like Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” to a room full of drunk Lebanese expats. My friend, drunk but not Lebanese, wanted nothing more in the world than their club sandwich — her intense craving blamed on the addictive precision with which they cut the bread into triangles. “They’re just… so perfect.” And it’s true: The Hotel Costes club sandwich is likely the most beautiful in all of Paris (and it better be for 33 euros).

Wear:

Thus far, Paris has been a nice change from my life in Brooklyn, schlepping from my quiet apartment to the local grocery store wearing boat shoes with socks from Costco and a pair fat-boyfriend jeans. Here, surrounded by magazine editors and rich young women, I am forced to care, mostly by way of self-shame. I have even ventured to learn how to curl my hair, no small feat for a woman whose “girl card” was recently revoked by a gaggle of gays who stood in horror as they watched me attempt to do my own hair.

Dressed in black tights, a wool APC mini dress, and a pair of Proenza booties, I walk into Hotel Costes confident that I will seamlessly blend into its gorgeous, pretentious décor. Though, from the way the hostess looks me up and down in a way I have never before experienced, accompanied with flared nostrils and a curled lip, I believe my efforts to have been in vain. I do my best to not retort an unprovoked, “Oh, yeah? Well, you look like a goth employee from Hot Topic circa ’97. Bitch.”

To ensure you do not receive similar treatment, I suggest arming yourself to the teeth with Tom Ford, Celine, and maybe some Rick Owens. The hostess will still likely treat you like garbage, but it’s worth a shot.

Seen:

Hotel Costes is a fascinating mixed bag of old men, young women, and well-dressed everybodies… which I guess is less of a mixed-bag than it is a predictably homogenous fashion stew.

Heard:

“Our server hates us.”

“Where’s our server?”

“Did they give us the French menu on purpose?”

“I’ll have the agua con gas.”

“Are you coming to the party tonight?”

“Hey, is that… ?”

Eat, Drink, Be Merry or Whatever: 

Hotel Costes is part of a tightly bound restaurant group that includes La Societe, L’Avenue, and probably a couple other spots I have not yet been dragged to. They are so tightly bound, in fact, they share the same menu, ensuring that you spend a week shuffling between different locations with the same people, eating the same food, which, while seemingly boring, is probably good for digestion.

In terms of this shared menu, I once “dated” a gentleman who swore by the poached salmon, which I happened to have ordered once but by the time it arrived I was too wasted on champagne to even bother with it. To its credit, however, it did look like salmon and came on a nice, heavy-duty plate.

The food I have managed to eat is serviceable (in the way I find all French food to be serviceable) and typically price-gougey (bring your corporate credit card). If you’re not having a flush year, you can always sit in the courtyard drinking wine and chain smoking cigarettes with everyone else.

The Lobbyist Rating: 5/5 Kate Mosses

Hotel Costes is the people-watching equivalent of Venice Beach, California – if Venice Beach was filled with very thin models, men wearing glasses indoors, and Russian fashion bloggers trailed by an entourage of gay men wearing three-piece suits.

I live for this shit. If I could give it 7 Kates, I would.

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(Photo courtesy of Slim Paley)

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The Lobbyist: Le Meurice, Paris

The Lobbyist is a division of JBLY that specifically handles reviews of hotel lobbies and hotel bars.  If you’ve got a good suggestion (or, preferably, a bad one) for a place I should visit, please send me an email at jennyblovesyoudaily@gmail.com.

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When:

In the middle of Paris Fashion Week, what better place to brunch it up than at Le Meurice, a five-star, luxury hotel smack in between the designer stores on Rue Saint Honore and the shows near the Tuileries? Eva and I waddled on over there for a late brunch, which, as it turns out, was a little too late, even by Paris standards. The conversation went something like this:

“Uhhhh, Mademoiselles. We ‘ave… uhhhh… no breakfast.”

“What?”

Might we suggest arriving before noon if you plan on indulging in their traditional continental breakfast (40 €) or their signature Meurice breakfast buffet (76 €), which includes champagne by the glass “selected by the Chef Sommelier” (as opposed to the bus boy) and hopefully at least 50 USD worth of smoked salmon.

Wear:

Le Meurice recommends “suitable attire” on their website, though — to likely avoid being labeled a pretentious European opulence den — they do not specify suitable to what. To a punk show? To an ‘80s-themed prom? To the Russian baths? Judging from the marble floors and chandeliers, we’re going to err on the side of caution and assume that “suitable attire” means your Sunday Best — which means a mink sable coat, your Louboutins, a designer handbag (not vintage), La Perla underwear, and a pair of Prada sunnies.

Seen:

Le Meurice feels to me like a mini Versailles, complete with gilded mirrors, heavy silk window treatments, and a somewhat misguided ceiling fresco of elongated babies and curtains that look like bacon. It’s the perfect place for the fashion crowd to cram in their power breakfasts (even if they’re not serving breakfast when you get there, and who eats these days anyway?). Giovanna Battaglia was there, wearing white fur (if you’re still struggling with the “suitable attire” recommendation, just look to this woman for inspiration) and quietly chatting over coffees with two others at a table the host refused to give Eva and I earlier (anti-American hate crime).

Heard:

Lots of French and ESL. The occasional wail of a baby crying for its silver spoon.

Eat, Drink, Drink, Be Merry or Whatever:

A club sandwich: What you order when you really wanted scrambled eggs and a bucket of fresh-squeezed orange juice – though those expertly crafted layers of chicken, bacon, tomatoes, and buttered bread seem an inferior replacement, really. Eva would have been inconsolable were it not for the three pan au chocolates they scrounged up for her. Against all better judgment, I had a bite. It was delicious.

The Lobbyist Rating: 3 out of 5 Kate Mosses

I have to be honest. If it weren’t for the soymilk, I would have given this place a two. The hosts hated us, the tourists wore sensible shoes, and the two lamps flanking our table were especially garish considering it was noon. Le Meurice puts the le meh in “chic.” That being said, I’ll still go back.

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