Crosby Street Hotel – Welcome Back!

July saw the reopening of the Crosby Street Hotel in New York. Kit Kemp’s London and New York properties are high on our list of favorite hotels. At Crosby Street, step into the light and airy lobby, home to Kit Kemp’s art collection, including works by Callum Innes and Jaume Plensa.  Firmdale Properties has two iconic properties in New York, besides Crosby Street their Midtown property is The Whitby Hotel. I frequently recommend and stay at Crosby Street Hotel set back off the Soho cobblestone streets and I always recommend it to my client families…teens can wander and shop, plus endless dining nearby. Firmdale Hotel Group is owned by Kit and Tim Kemp, their roster of properties includes eight stylish hotels in London. An interior designer, Kit Kemp creates all the interiors for their properties.

Crosby Street Hotel library

Besides marvelous dining spaces and friendly beyond helpful staff, I adore the whimsy of the eclectic design in all of the Firmdale properties. Attention grabbing design tempting you to linger.  Kit Kemp mixes patterns and colors like a genius sorcerer and I feel is impossible to duplicate! Turkish rugs, Jim Thompson fabrics, Mexican Otomi embroidery – the rooms and public spaces are a riot of color and texture that beautifully blend into a cohesive look. Charm is a touchstone Firmdale characteristic and they have it down to a science, a charming idiosyncratic science.You should know, the hotels all have the trademarked steel Crittall windows, enormous floor to ceiling windows unlike any other hotel windows, allowing brilliant light to flood the room. The rooms are similar in style to their other properties in the sense that Kit Kemp is a master of pattern mixing with a myriad of colors, yet it looks sensational and unique.

Kit Kemp's - Design Thread

Design Themes. From the latest Kit Kemp newsletter, where she provides background on her inspiration.

DON’T be afraid to make a statement. Found fabrics come in many forms, depending on origin, technique or era. Often, found textiles feature delicate and pretty designs, but sometimes you might be lucky enough to find a punchy and powerful design, like this traditional Mexican Otomi embroidery.

DO use the fabric as your starting point. When you have a fabric you love and want to bring it to life in a scheme, it’s always a good idea to pick colors from the textile itself. Think of the fabric as the blueprint for the rest of the space and grow the identity from there. Carefully building on the colors will help to create a cohesive and balanced room. 

DON’T shy away from mixing and matching. The joy and beauty of using found or vintage fabrics is that they can have imperfections that make them feel more unique. Play into the imperfect by using a combination of similar fabrics. Kilim rugs are one of my favorite fabrics to collect. One afternoon, whilst browsing our design library, I realized I had a small collection of hot pink and orange pieces. I had just enough to cover my dining chairs at home, so they went straight off to the upholsterer. It doesn’t matter that they are all slightly different, the mix and match creates intrigue.

DO pay homage to your fabric. Play into the origins of your antique textiles to create a scheme that tells a story. This beautiful antique needlepoint on the ottoman is wonderfully traditional and tells a tale of age-old craft techniques. In another celebration of traditional techniques, we used this Bogolan mud cloth textile from Mali on the little chair in Crosby Street Hotel‘s lobby. Paired with the Ardmore sofa from South Africa, it brings together different references as a small celebration of the African continent.

The library, Crosby Street Hotel

DON’T overlook the potential for wear and tear. Using antique textiles often means the fabric might be fragile. There could be embroidery, embellishment, or the textile itself may have lost its luster over time.

If it is a more delicate fabric, we recommend using it in a location that will get less wear and tear. My trick is to always use more intricate fabrics on accent chairs in spaces where people are only passing through.

In the lobby at Crosby Street Hotel we have two antique Suzani textiles on our wing chairs. They are real statement pieces and although they get occasional use, they are safe from the weathering of a drawing room chair. More Kit Kemp design advice.

Crosby Street Hotel lobby

I love a story behind hotel properties and every one of the Firmdale properties express multiple stories. I feel I am in a very exotic location in each hotel. Kit Kemp’s design sense involves an explosion of patterns, colors and textures. She is an expert at making remote acquisitions work in her varied interiors, and she possesses an enviable flair for interspersing collectibles, like an 18th-century Swedish cupboard or an antique Suzani into her projects. From one of her books, and I have all of them: pieces that tell a unique story—maybe of a person or a time in history, of a particular handcrafted technique, or even just something with a combination of color or pattern.

My first impulse in a Firmdale property, is to kick off my shoes and plop into one of the plush chairs or hop atop the extremely comfy sleep inducing Beautyrest bed, layered in colorful multiple patterns, sensory overload perhaps, but eclectic design with immense style. The rooms envelope you, blissful fun, distinctive style combined with luxury and excellent amenities, a gallery in a sense. The bathrooms are quite large; and most have massive stand-alone silver soaking tubs and oversize double sinks. Small well-lit walk in closets eliminate your travel detritus and contain a well-stocked mini bar.

Traditionally, Firmdale properties are designed in the style of a stately English country home, I realize those are opposite terms; the sitting rooms and libraries for guests are designed in the style of ‘to the manner born’, however, the décor is cozy and comfy and very inviting. Imagine a private guest space i.e. the drawing room with an honor bar, merely write down on the pad that you were the one who quaffed the Perrier chilling in the ice-bucket…Brits who appreciate common courtesy and expect honor.

Many years ago, my stay at the Crosby Street Hotel included hosting my local friends in between their son’s high school graduation events. The grand ‘library’ of the Crosby Street was the picture-perfect place to flock, staff replacing bottles of bubbly, passing scrumptious snacks, peeking in often to see if we needed care, I’ve never felt more at home.

The Library, Crosby Street Hotel, New York

Full service, including suggestions for what to do, where to go in the neighborhood! Crosby Street Hotel.

Welcome back Crosby Street Hotel, when we are allowed to travel again, New York fall weather will beckon me back.

Crosby Street Hotel, New York. Crosby The Cat 12-foot bronze cat sculpture from the Colombian figurative artist and sculptor, Fernando Botero.

Art at Crosby Street Hotel

Sleeping Around – The Central Coast

The current pandemic travel model resembles travel of bygone eras, what once produced summer memories might include a road trip in the family station wagon, kids and dogs pile into a wood paneled wagon and head to a National Park. Antsy to travel, a few of our clients are taking to the road on mini-escapes.

Forthcoming, I plan to mosey down the Central Coast of California, I missed the Bruce Munro Field of Light at Villa Montalvo, it has moved to Paso Robles until January 3, 2021. I’m off soon to preview and perform site inspections along the way. Over the last decade, the Central Coast has become a flourishing wine destination.

Originally named El Paso de Robles, or “The Pass of the Oaks,” the town and its surrounding hillsides and canyons have been spared the devastating fires that have recently struck Sonoma and other farming regions. Paso Robles is now a Central Coast wine country mecca; for years, it was merely a blip to refuel en-route to Santa Barbara, summer is usually blistering hot, and we would scarcely nod in the direction of the oak studded golden hills from the road. The Paso Robles summer rodeo and mid-state fair banners barely fluttered in the static searing heat. In the Midwest, ‘Fair Food’ is a summer staple, i.e. deep-fried butter on a stick or fried Oreo cookies, these fair delicacies didn’t tempt me to explore Paso Robles. In the early years, Paso Robles’ farmers and ranchers were major producers of almonds, grain, cattle and Zinfandel. The region’s multiple micro-climates and diverse soils have led to a vibrant wine industry. Paso Robles is now home to 11 different wine sub-appellations. As a wine-growing region, what sets Paso Robles apart from other regions is its elevation, 10-mile proximity to the Pacific and the fact that it has a coastal climate — which means that consistently hot dry sunny days are followed by cool nights — with thick sea fog, which blankets the region nightly.

There are a couple of well-regarded hotels in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. A choice of locations in Paso Robles, downtown amid the mix of small shops, or a bit outside town close to the Sensorio exhibit. Allegretto Vineyard Resort is not your typical resort, from the Tuscan styles to the museum caliber artwork, it was Paso Robles first full-service hotel. On 20 acres, guests can stroll the through centuries-old grapevines, olive trees and stone fountains in the courtyard — reminiscent of a villa in the Italian countryside. Bocce ball, pool cabanas nestled below the vineyard, spa and Italian dining! At the back edge of the property, the spacious swimming pool and multi-jet hot tub are surrounded by vineyards and six cabanas with chaise lounges, you can count on finding me here with a bag of reading materials!

We’ve reserved private wine tastings for clients in this area – however, there are a plethora of interesting tours and tastings: Jam Making at Hartley Farms, Olive Oil Pressing at Groves on 41, Oyster Shucking in Morro Bay, Farm & Creamery Tour at Step Ladder Creamery, Chocolatiers Classes and for those who love Clydesdales yes, you read that right. The Covell Clydesdale Ranch is the only one place on earth where you can experience the majestic Clydesdale horses grazing on nearly 2,000 acres of rolling pastures speckled with pristine Monterey Pines and overlooking an exquisite view of the Pacific Ocean. At any given time, the ranch is home to approximately 100 Clydesdale horses of all ages, sizes, and abilities for riding and/or driving. The concierge at Allegretto Vineyard Resort can organize all or some of these activities. Wine tasting is mostly all private appointments during the pandemic, which is the best path to taste wines, in my humble opinion!

Cass Vineyards has added Dinner in the Vineyards with Chef Charlie Paladin Wayne. Sourcing ingredients from local growers and from their garden estate and the nearby Pacific Ocean. The Vineyard has also added what looks to be an interesting Inn built completely out of repurposed shipping containers. The Geneseo Inn is perched above the vines, full report coming soon!

My Journey will continue south, twenty minutes south of Paso Robles, is the small college town San Luis Obispo; which has a new hotel, a property designed by the folks who own Hotel Healdsburg. Hotel San Luis Obispo is a modern urban resort that embodies the essence of SLO. As alluring as the hills that surround it and as easygoing as the quintessential California beach towns just down the road. All of the 78 rooms are located on the 2nd & 3rd floor, so leave your doors open for fresh air, many suites have small balconies with views of the eastern hills. High-ceilinged, airy rooms, the white-walled interiors are brightened with colorful furnishings and commissioned artworks rooted in the hotel’s local heritage.

Chef Ryan Fancher, returning to his roots in California’s Central Coast from Northern California Wine Country, oversees the hotel’s two onsite restaurants: Piadina, a fresh California take on Italian cuisine based around the wood-fired oven, and Ox + Anchor, a modern spin on the classic steakhouse. His Northern California’s Napa Valley skills were utilized at some of the country’s best chefs, including Richard Reddington at Auberge de Soleil and Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. Fancher’s expertise earned him the role as the opening team sous chef at Per Se in New York, a Pronounced Pedigree. He most recently led the culinary team at Barndiva in Healdsburg, where he gained praise and recognition for his culinary creations and imaginative use of ingredients.

Santa Ynez Valley, home to the village of Los Olivos, is a mere 90 mins. south of Paso Robles and is known for its laid back small-town charm. If you’re seeking a comfortable afternoon of wine tasting, gift shopping and artisanal eats, Los Olivos has it all. Sparkling wine-tasting rooms, artisan gifts and fine dining. Spend the day in the quaint town’s center or book a tour for a self-indulgent day of wine or beer tasting. Wander through the myriad tasting rooms within a few blocks that make up downtown Los Olivos. Dine at a number of delectable artisan restaurants or lunch spots or take a chapter from a local favorite and enjoy a rustic barbecue lunch at R-Country Market — Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches are the order of the day every Saturday and Sunday. If fine dining and wine pairing are more your speed, enjoy a succulent dinner at Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant, which Wine Spectator magazine named the “Best Restaurant for Wine.”

The history of Los Olivos began with a stagecoach route in 1861, The Overland / Coast Line Stage established a station at Ballard, just south of present day Los Olivos. Running from San Francisco down to Ballard, and continuing south through Los Angeles before ending in San Diego, the stage provided important transportation back in the day.

Mosey to the lovely Fess Parker Wine Country Inn just near town. Nestled in the heart of Los Olivos, California, the Fess Parker Inn offers guests a quiet retreat in the midst of Santa Barbara County’s iconic wine country. The Fess Parker property is part of the Preferred Hotel Group – started as the vision of a Hollywood actor whose characters loved the wilderness:Fess Parker was better known as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on television in the 1950s and ’60s. When he set out to buy a vineyard in Santa Barbara wine country, it quickly became a family affair. Now his son Eli and granddaughter Tessa Marie have vineyards on more than 700 acres of land, and guests staying at the inn enjoy prime access to this fertile section of California countryside.

Third generation rancher Katie Parker McDonald offers private 90-minute horseback rides through the historic 714-acre Fess Parker home ranch. Fully customizable and for all levels, guests explore the ranch via horseback with a guide who shares stories of the family’s history on Foxen Canyon. Riders can also elect for offerings such as a picnic lunch or wine tasting at the Fess Parker Winery. A long list of activities including hot air ballooning, golf, bicycling on country roads, picnics, hiking and boating nearby.

The Central Coast has matured from deep fried butter on a stick locale to lovely hotel properties, esteemed vineyards, fine dining and activities for adults and the kiddos.We also work with a very well known bike firm who can offer a week of trail riding in this idyllic countryside.

Details soon – Follow me!