Changing dowagers into dazzling young brides is an old and trusted tradition but the verdict is less clear when it comes to a makeover of tiny former rooming houses into alluring boutiques. New York has more than its share beginning with the late eighties when former lawyer turned hotelier, Bernard Goldberg turned relatively small buildings with even smaller rooms into boutiques along the lines of trend-setter, Ian Schrager. Goldberg’s first hotels were the Wales, the Franklin, the Mansfield and the Shoreham in that order. Beginning with the turn-of-the-century building at Madison Avenue and 92d Street, which began its life as the Hotel Chastaigneray, he gave it a major face lift and a new name with an Edwardian flavor. Since then, there have been a string of imitations, some better than the originals such as the Iroquois and the former Chemists Club now known as the Dylan. Those that went for style without the design elements include the Dream and the Night.
Nevertheless, all turn the old maxim “old wine in a new bottle” on its head by virtue of their exponential leap in rates. There is clearly more room at the inn for such products and the Big Apple (and indeed other cities) will likely see a lot more.