As part of our Upper Class trip to New York in December 2016, we went undercover to review the Standard High Line, a hotel that’s seen everything from A-list celebs through its doors, to voyeuristic looking for a rather open stay in the Big Apple. The Standard Hotel, located above the High Line in New York’s oh so trendy Meatpacking District has been open since 2009, and judging by the super-beautiful-slightly-snooty staff, it’s one for people who like to be seen in some of the hottest spots in the city.
As a couple used to everything from five star hotels to dingy little rooms, we’ve seen the best (and the rest) that cities have to offer. From London to Iceland, Paris to Cambodia, and everywhere in between, we like to think we know a good hotel when we see one.
So I wish we could stay it was amazing. I wish we could say it made our trip that much more special. I wish we could say we enjoyed every moment. I wish we could even go so far as to recommend it to our readers. I wish we could say ‘ignore those bad reviews, it’s all good!’ But after a seven-night stay left us feeling flat, it’s one we won’t ever be visiting again, and would advise readers to proceed with caution if they’re thinking of making an appearance.
Reviews online, just for an insight into the place:
The douche bag quotient is so high here, that my overall internal Douche Capacitator Vector which steers me away from such places was thrown awry and I almost jumped off the roof to my death. – John Y
It was like a date with a gorgeous air head with soul-sucking narcissism, after the initial feasting of the eyes and perhaps an overnight visit you just want to leave because upon closer inspection they are ugly, avaricious, and utterly dysfunctional. – GIR
This place is a little too full of itself considering it offers nothing but a decent view. Go spend your money on a hotel that actually offers some hospitality. – Sasha Y
This hotel reminds me of:
* bad acid
* Lindsay Lohan’s mom
* Boogie Nights – Melissa Y
The Standard High Line review: The location
We actually spotted the Standard High Line on our first trip to New York when we happened upon the historic train route serving Manhattan’s west side. Decommissioned and out of use, residents of the area set up a fund to preserve this little slice of New York’s already new history, and have created an above street level pathway for tourists and locals to amble down as the day sees fit. With art installations and native wildlife planted through the iron cast railway tracks, the Standard High Line straddles the railway path and sits above it as if on stilts.
The Meatpacking District is pretty much New York’s Shoreditch. Once a solely trade area full of gritty bars and biker hangouts, New York’s elite and fashionable have done what they always do and gentrified the area, with the greasy restaurants replaced by designer shops and high-end eateries.
We dreamed about staying in such an amazing place, and when we were planning our trip it was our first port of call. The location is perfect for those who want amazing views (Statue of Liberty, One World, and the Empire State Building are all visible from rooms around the place) and to live in the lap of luxury for a while.
The Standard High Line review: Booking and booking fees
We booked the hotel as a refundable option at $297 a night, just in case anything happened and we needed to change plans. At this stage we hadn’t confirmed our flight dates, so having the option to change things without fuss was pretty important.
However, as soon as we’d booked and despite Booking.com offering a ‘pay nothing until you stay’ fully refundable option, we saw a few hundred pounds disappear from our account. This was a ‘holding fee’ a reservation agent told us when we called. Nothing about this fee was made clear at the time of booking and we were a little peeved. However, once we arranged our travel dates we decided to keep to the original plan and thankfully nothing needed to be changed.
It’s one to be aware of when booking.
The Standard High Line review: Checking in and the $200 per night holding fee
Arriving at the Standard High Line a few months later, we couldn’t wait to get unpacked and get exploring! The hotel had arranged an ice rink for the public to use just outside its entrance and we took a few moments to enjoy the typically festive scene in front of us. Happy families sipping hot chocolate sat in fur-lined recliner chairs while the brave whizzed around the small but speedy rink.
As we stood there, luggage in tow, a gorgeous man approached us asking if we were staying at the hotel. We were a little surprised at being approached by him as he didn’t seem to be in any kind of uniform, but he explained the hotel is actually right above us with no massive street presence, so he helped us wheel in our bags and pop them on a trolley. Most helpful! We would have definitely been circling the block if he hadn’t spotted us.
We waited a short while at reception when another gorgeous girl took our details to check us in. She explained the room was on the 9th floor, (908) and that although the hotel has two bars on the top floors, guests of the Standard High Line are only permitted to use them before 9pm, after that it’s at the bar manager’s discretion. She told us to head up there for 8pm if we wanted to get in with no fuss, and warned us that there could be long queues. Ok then. We were handed our printout and pointed in the direction of the lifts.
Heading up to the 9th floor with room keys and paperwork in hand in a near pitch-black elevator with the weirdest video playing, we tipped the porter and David checked his beeping phone. A text from the bank warned us we were way, way over our spending limit. We scanned over the printout only to see for every night, an additional $200 PER NIGHT had been charged on our card. A whopping $1400 more than we budgeted, and basically our spending money. David decided to see what had happened and went back downstairs while I unpacked.
Rather than the girl at check in telling us that we’d be charged a ‘room service’ fee, in case we decided to head up to the bar and pay on tab or use items from the mini-bar, she decided to basically say nothing about this at all.
So, off to a good start then. Not only had the Standard High Line taken money from our account months before staying despite the opposite being mentioned on the website when booking, all our spending money was being held hostage by the hotel in case we decided to chance getting into the hotel’s bars. Hotels will often take a deposit of some kind, that’s totally understandable. However to not be told about it, instead being warned that the highly exclusive bar was highly exclusive, wasn’t professional by any means. We were told the money would be refunded had nothing been used during our stay.
The Standard High Line review: The room, Standard Queen
Our room, 908, was amazing. Decked in Scandi-style wooden cladding with a red-tiled bathroom, huge bed and floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the High Line and the Empire State, they certainly are gorgeous. Directly in front of the room and over the street was a brand new, unoccupied office block that loomed into view. As it was empty, we threw open the netted curtains and enjoyed the bright sunny New York skyline. Not something that would easily be done with a thousand office workers staring at you!
The bed was massive and despite there being feather pillows, a massive hate of mine, was so comfy. A quick call down to reception and an hour or so later two foam pillows arrived.
A few things stood out as odd though:
The incredible lack of storage
Just one rail with three hangers for those clothes that need to be hung, and aside from that, one small cupboard next to the mini-bar fridge was all the space we had. There were no drawers (not even by the bedside) and no cupboards at all. It was so annoying as the sofa area then became a make-shift floordrobe. The space was basically designed for a one-night stopover rather than a long-term week visit.
The pay-for-everything mini bar
Everything was massively overpriced, and nothing was complementary. Sure, you had a shaving set and toothbrushes (most basic-star hotels will provide these free of charge in case you forgot to pack them), as well as condoms, candles and candy canes, but they were hideously expensive. We couldn’t help comparing The Standard High Line’s stinginess to our stay in New York’s Andaz Wall Street hotel, which had a totally free minibar and even offered their guests a free glass of wine of an evening.
There wasn’t even a coffee maker to start the day with a cuppa. That’s inexcusable by my book.
The attention to detail
The telly was wonky and a serious lack of plug sockets to charge phones was annoying (I had to use the Bose-like dock to charge my phone). Paint chips here and there were inexcusable for the price paid, and throughout our stay it seemed the handymen were busy touching up its tired walls here and there. There was no guest information pack, either, with details of check out.
As far as the room was concerned, it was a real wow moment when we arrived. To shower and be able to see the Empire State at the same time is all kinds of exciting. There was style, but seriously stingy behaviour just left us feeling like we should be glad to have been selected to stay there, not that the hotel was welcoming us as guests.
Unfortunately, our time at room 908 was short-lived
We were woken the next day at 6am, with jet-lagged fuzzy heads to the most incredibly loud sound of water pouring through next door’s pipes. It was SO. LOUD. Every time the water was turned on it sounded like a cascading waterfall. After a few hours of this, we called down to reception and requested to move rooms, which they promptly arranged. Repacking what we’d managed to unpack (not a lot, given the lack of storage) we left our bags to be moved to our new room and were asked to check in at reception once we’d returned from our day out.
Having being told to leave our passports and valuables out in the open wasn’t massively reassuring. And what’s worse, when we arrived back and asked for our new room key, we were told we needed our passports to check in. Which were in the room we were trying to – and being refused – access.
After showing the driving licence I’d fortunately kept with me, we were given a new room one floor below in 809, which had a small bath tub and similar views. We signed as we realised later that night the bathtub plug was broken, so a call to reception to get that fixed was placed, and we hoped we’d be getting a good night’s sleep (we did).
The Standard High Line review: Le Bain and the bar
I suppose snobbishness is to be expected from a bar that doesn’t even allow hotel guests access, but we really can’t say much other than the fact we were rudely told we couldn’t look around (at 4pm) without IDs and having our coats hung up in the cloakroom. Playing the game, we had our wrists stamped and ventured inside to a shabby looking dancefloor, long galley style bar and a council estate style paved rooftop area.
The views were beautiful and we managed to catch the Statue of Liberty glinting in the setting sunlight, but staff were impatient and clearly us tourists weren’t welcome. We couldn’t get a drink at the bar due to literally being ignored, so fifteen minutes later decided to leave and find a place that would be more welcoming.
We tried to get access on another evening, breaking out my Louboutins and Chanel and getting dressed up to the nines, but ‘the bar was closed’ apparently, which needed two security guards flanking the door to tell us. Why they were there if the bar was closed remains a mystery to us.
The Standard High Line review: Checking out
The stay at the Standard High Line was, well, bog standard and certainly not worth the expense. We kept harking back to our time at The Plaza, with its incredible friendly staff who treated their loaded clientele in the same way us peasant folk were which was so amazing, and the Andaz, with its welcoming homeliness and massive room space, and couldn’t help thinking we’d have left if we weren’t being held hostage to the tune of over £1200.
Check out was unremarkable. As we went to settle the bill we were asked if we’d taken chewing gum from the mini-bar, which we hadn’t. The guy on front-of-house removed the charge and with everything refunded back onto our cards, we left our bags at the luggage room to spend our last few hours exploring.
Overhearing a different member of the front of house team, a man with incredibly bleached hair, speaking to a visiting lady really summed up the entire ethos of this hotel. She walked in with some friends as we were leaving, around 3pm, enquiring about visiting the bar, only to be asked which bar. She replied the rooftop bar. The bleach-blonde man asked again, which one. The lady rephrased her question: the rooftop bar at the top of the hotel. The man again asked, which one, as the woman stood there, mouth agape, probably wondering whether the man had recently suffered a head trauma, like I was. Eventually, the man decided to explain there were two bars, and that there was a different entrance for non-guests which she needed to use.
The Standard High Line review: Overall, just don’t do it
Staying at the Standard High Line was the worst part of our stay by far, and we made a mistake by tolerating the rudeness of staff and unwelcoming atmosphere. I know as Brits we’re used to scathing sarcasm and dry humour, stiff upper lip and all that, but the hotel suffers from a huge issue of style (of a sort) over substance. We loved the ‘wow’ feeling of the view and the room at first, but look deeper at the issues with service and the very tired rooms, and it doesn’t make for a good stay. It’s simply full of itself, leaving us feeling like a guest staying the night is an inconvenience to all. No storage space, no coffee, broken bathtubs, and noisy rooms are something you’d expect from a stay at the EasyHotel, not a £250 a night gaff.
I mean, we could deal with all of that, really. We’re not in New York to spend it in a hotel. However, taking additional funds from a guests’ credit card without explaining is inexcusable. Having been back and reading other’s reviews, it’s certainly not a unique experience, either.
We loved New York, but we hated the Standard High Line with a passion.