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Freehand Hotel: A Storied Manhattan Haunt of Poets and Artists Gets a Revamp for 2018

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Freehand Hotel: A Storied Manhattan Haunt of Poets and Artists Gets a Revamp for 2018

February 23, 2018

This just in: The historic building in Manhattan’s Flatiron District that was once home to the famous George Washington Hotel (and to some of the most prominent artists and writers of the past century) is now the newest outpost of the Freehand hotel collection. Designed by Roman and Williams in collaboration with the Sydell Group, Freehand New York’s 395 rooms range from Craftsman-style bunk rooms to suites, plus two restaurants and a bar with old-school New York flair. The team took care to restore the building’s interiors while modernizing them with commissioned murals in partnership with artists from Bard College, plus a mix of vintage and custom-made furniture. The result? A new breath of life for this 90-year-old building. Check in for a stay.

Photography by Adrian Gaut, courtesy of Freehand.

The building that now houses Freehand New York was once the George Washington Hotel, a hotel and boarding house where poet W. H. Auden and novelist Christopher Isherwood lived in the 30s. A new sign hangs above the historic entryway.
Above: The building that now houses Freehand New York was once the George Washington Hotel, a hotel and boarding house where poet W. H. Auden and novelist Christopher Isherwood lived in the 1930s. A new sign hangs above the historic entryway.
Inside, the original millwork was restored in the lobby’s elevator bank. The elevator doors are painted in Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: Inside, the original millwork was restored in the lobby’s elevator bank. The elevator doors are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Salamander.
On the second-floor mezzanine are all-day restaurant Studio, The George Washington Bar, and corridor cafe The Gallery (shown). The restaurants are run by New York chef and restauranteur Gabriel Stulman. Roman and Williams worked with Urban Landscape to curate the potted plants in the space. “By bringing elements of the outdoors indoors, we brought into existence a spirit within The Gallery that resembles a greenhouse,” say Roman and Williams founders Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch. Also in the mix: layered textures and exotic statues.
Above: On the second-floor mezzanine are all-day restaurant Studio, The George Washington Bar, and corridor cafe The Gallery (shown). The restaurants are run by New York chef and restauranteur Gabriel Stulman. Roman and Williams worked with Urban Landscape to curate the potted plants in the space. “By bringing elements of the outdoors indoors, we brought into existence a spirit within The Gallery that resembles a greenhouse,” say Roman and Williams founders Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch. Also in the mix: layered textures and exotic statues.
“We regularly implement the amalgamation of vintage and custom pieces within our work,&#8
Above: “We regularly implement the amalgamation of vintage and custom pieces within our work,” Standefer and Alesch say. “The chairs and small stools are vintage and the couches are custom Roman and Williams designs.”
Original travertine floors in The Gallery lead to the entrance to Studio, at right.
Above: Original travertine floors in The Gallery lead to the entrance to Studio, at right.
Within Studio: more layered textures, millwork, and walls and pillars painted in Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: Within Studio: more layered textures, millwork, and walls and pillars painted in Benjamin Moore’s Oasis Blue. The menu is influenced by Stulman’s Jewish-Moroccan background, highlighting flavors from North Africa and the Near East.
Every meal of the day is offered at Studio, from brik-style eggs in the morning to lamb kefta in pita to share in the evening.
Above: Every meal of the day is offered at Studio, from brik-style eggs in the morning to lamb kefta in pita to share in the evening.
Each guest room has a commissioned mural by one of  selected Bard College artists, continuing the building’s tradition of harboring and supporting local talent and spirit. Roman & Williams designed all the lighting fixtures, including the lantern-like ceiling lamp and cubical bedside lamps. “We believe that even the smallest details matter when designing a warm, inviting space. Even the simple act of turning off and on a bedside lamp cannot be overlooked,” Standefer and Alesch say.
Above: Each guest room has a commissioned mural by one of 10 selected Bard College artists, continuing the building’s tradition of harboring and supporting local talent and spirit. Roman & Williams designed all the lighting fixtures, including the lantern-like ceiling lamp and cubical bedside lamps. “We believe that even the smallest details matter when designing a warm, inviting space. Even the simple act of turning off and on a bedside lamp cannot be overlooked,” Standefer and Alesch say.
Custom fur textiles from Guild, Roman and Williams’s new brick-and-mortar shop, are found throughout the hotel for texture. (For a look around Guild, see A Glamorous New Emporium in SoHo from Roman and Williams.)
Above: Custom fur textiles from Guild, Roman and Williams’s new brick-and-mortar shop, are found throughout the hotel for texture. (For a look around Guild, see A Glamorous New Emporium in SoHo from Roman and Williams.)
The sturdy bunk beds in the group-friendly bunk and &#8
Above: The sturdy bunk beds in the group-friendly bunk and “Three’s Company” rooms are also Roman and Williams designs.
The team used two paint colors—Dove Wing and Intense White, both by Benjamin Moore—throughout the guest rooms to create subtle geometric detail.
Above: The team used two paint colors—Dove Wing and Intense White, both by Benjamin Moore—throughout the guest rooms to create subtle geometric detail.
A quirky detail above a dorm-style desk: a hanging fruit basket.
Above: A quirky detail above a dorm-style desk: a hanging fruit basket.
The guest baths are clad in wood paneling.
Above: The guest baths are clad in wood paneling.
The portrait of George Washington was already hanging in the building; Roman and Williams decided to have it professionally refurbished and rehung, hence the name of the dimly-lit George Washington Bar.
Above: The portrait of George Washington was already hanging in the building; Roman and Williams decided to have it professionally refurbished and rehung, hence the name of the dimly-lit George Washington Bar.
The bar&#8
Above: The bar’s original mahogany millwork and fireplace have also been restored. Upholstered vintage furniture completes the Old New York atmosphere.
 Also on location: Simon & the Whale, the hotel&#8
Above: Also on location: Simon & the Whale, the hotel’s stand-alone restaurant on the ground floor. Roman and Williams used iroko wood for the millwork in the space and added green and blue ceramic tile and marble for a modern-vintage feel.

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