The former Lambs Club building, a Manhattan landmark in the heart of the theatre district, has been restored to its prohibition-era splendour at the hands of master architect and designer Thierry Despont. In its new incarnation as The Chatwal, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Despont blends traditional glamour and contemporary luxury for what is the first complete New York City hotel commission for the high profile design firm.
The Chatwal hotel in New York is the vision of Sant Chatwal, chairman and CEO of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts. Consistent with his goal to create intimate gathering places and rooms with the highest attention to detail, The Chatwal joins past with present, while maintaining a distinctively New York character.
Originally the home of America’s first theatrical society, The Lambs building was designed in 1904 by Lambs Club member Stanford White, an iconic architect of the period who also created the Villard Houses, The Washington Square Arch, and the original Madison Square Garden.
Completed in 1905 and enlarged in 1915, the building served as the centre of the New York theatre and entertainment establishment. The New York Landmarks Commission stipulated that both the facade and many interior design elements be retained in The Chatwal, conditions that Thierry Despont and his team used to great advantage.
Despont oversaw every detail of the design, from the property’s front door to each of its 76 guest rooms and suites. Blurring the divide between classic and modern, Despont brings the art deco structure its own new identity.
“I wanted to create a unique New York experience where guests would feel the energy and vibrancy of the city, while being at the centre of today’s world,” Thierry explains.
Despont’s design recalls the glamour and understated luxury of the early Broadway era. The entrance hall features a rich brown patterned terrazzo floor and walls decked out in flush wood panels with metal trim and luminous columns. The focal point is a two-storey, sepia-toned mural of a New York cityscape commissioned especially for the space. The lobby bar, concierge and reception desks are clad in bright-chrome art deco-style metal fins.
Despont took tremendous care to honour the history of the building and the legacy of Stanford White, restoring many of the original features and incorporating them into his own design. A prominent floor-to-ceiling fireplace, a gift from Stanford White to The Lambs Club, is a striking centerpiece in the hotel’s restaurant.
Distinctive elliptical doors, originally part of The Lambs Grill Room, were reinstalled in The Chatwal’s private function room. These meeting rooms also feature elliptical wine cellars designed by Despont to match the existing doors and lacquered-wood wainscot and ceiling beams that recall the first Grill Room. The facade of the building was also restored to its former glory, complete with original marble ram heads and a marble plaque alluding to the glory days of the building’s first inhabitants.
In addition, the Stanford White Studio, a signature suite, was created in honour of the architect. Originally The Lambs Club Library, it was meticulously refurbished and reinstalled with the original oak panelled walls and beams, a working granite fireplace with a richly-detailed wood mantel, and a fully-furnished private outdoor terrace.
The guest rooms and suites are exquisitely appointed, drawing inspiration from glamorous, early 20th century travel, each featuring built-in cabinets wrapped in faux leather to resemble designer luggage. The walls are upholstered in luxurious ultra-suede fabric and baths are clad in bands of tinted mirror.
The guest room’s three colour schemes include oxblood red and light ochre; blue and light grey; and bright yellow and light brown. Each guest room features bespoke furniture designed by Despont, such as desks inspired by art deco-era luggage with pop-ups that reveal a make-up mirror and cleverly disguised writing desk.
The finest amenities are offered in the guest rooms: 400-thread count Frette linens; bespoke throws and top-of-bed items by Cristina Azario; custom pillows and duvets by Down & Co; organic, handmade Shifman mattress; plush robes by Kashwére; exclusive Asprey bath products; and stereo systems by Tivoli.
The restaurant at The Chatwal is an intimate yet lively space that seats 90. It is a collaboration between Manhattan’s established culinary and cocktail virtuosos Geoffrey Zakarian, Margaret Zakarian, David Rabin, Will Regan, and Jeffrey Jah.
Using the original Lambs Club limestone fireplace as a focal point, Despont sees the restaurant as a club-like room for pre-theatre drinks or a late dinner with friends. The restaurant features dark, lacquered-wood wall panels with built-in red leather banquettes and bright chrome light fixtures. The banquettes sport interior lights that enhance the intimate atmosphere.
The entrance hall at The Chatwal is open to the second-floor lounge, providing a grand and inviting space. The lounge features a chrome metal bar designed to resemble a structural steel beam. The back bar has glossy, ebonised art deco-style pilasters with interior lighting, making it the perfect location for sipping vintage cocktails. Two massive multi-tiered conical chandeliers extend from the ceiling of the lounge into the entrance hall below, and the lounge’s railing is made of laminated glass panels with inset bronze and stainless-steel mesh.
The Stanford White Studio, the hotel’s landmark suite, is ideal for board meetings and intimate social gatherings of up to 40 people. Featuring all the elaborate millwork of the original Lambs Club Library as well as a private outdoor terrace, the 600ft2 suite is an impressive and luxurious space. The Chatwal also has conference venues to serve every corporate need. The beautifully restored 1500ft2 Club Room comfortably seats up to 90 guests, and can accommodate all technological needs.