Come nighttime, the Financial District quietens down a bit, but the bar scene still holds its own. Since being awarded the no-pressure title of “World’s Best New Cocktail Bar”, Water Street’s multi-storey Dead Rabbit is still a top place to be seen, not just in this neighbourhood but in all Manhattan. Sprawling pub/restaurant Ulysses is similarly lauded, though more for its cosiness than its cocktails. There’s Guiness on tap, plus an extensive beer list.
For the most part, accommodation in the Financial District does a functional job, which is arguably all a business traveller needs. But as the neighbourhood continues to become less of a Monday-to-Friday destination, visitors expect the same kind of emphasis on style and service as they’d find in hotels further uptown, particularly if combining business with leisure.
W Downtown is our top hotel pick, successfully mixing Wall Street chutzpah with a laid back nightclub vibe. The gleaming 58-storey property (including upper floor residences) sprung up several years ago in what must be the most startling location in Manhattan; directly opposite the new World Trade Center and overlooking the two gaping holes previously occupied by the twin towers. If the view was poignant when the hotel opened in 2010, it is truly extraordinary now. The scars in the ground have become the reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial, and the 104-storey 1 WTC is now the nation’s tallest building, with an observation deck which opened in 2015.
Gazing down on all of this are the hotel’s minimalist ‘Spectacular’ rooms, which sensibly provide little in the way of visual distraction, sticking to a calming white palette with a few bold flashes of colour here and there. Supremely comfortable pillow-top mattresses, high-tech media systems and custom built-in furniture complete the low-key, streamlined look, and a white leather, full-width window seat offers a perch for watching lines of people no bigger than ants queue up at the Memorial’s entrance – a quietly compelling pastime, if you have no issues with vertigo.
Back at street level, classic American fare is on offer at the cosy booth-lined BLT Bar & Grill, while the fifth floor open-air Living Room Bar & Terrace offers a sultry spot for downtown’s glamour set to mingle, with similarly unobstructed views. Should you need them, there’s a 1,000 square foot gym and 24-hour business centre too.
W Downtown is also a member of Marriott Bonvoy®, a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club hotel partner with over 1100 properties in almost 100 countries.
W Downtown, 123 Washington Street, New York 10006.
Other solid sleeping bets include sophisticated Gild Hall with its gourmet Dean & Deluca minibars; the luxury Ritz-Carlton which looks out across the waterfront from its Battery Park location, and Club Quarters Wall Street, which offers hotel rooms, full service studios with kitchenettes, and apartments for extended stays.
Written by Maxine Sheppard
Image credits: Financial district © Maxine Sheppard, Wall Street sign © iStock: robertcicchetti