A private drive in New York? Welcome to the Equinox

One of Equinox Hotel's barrel saunas overlooks Hudson Yards and the Vessel structure in New York. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
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Rebecca Tobin
Rebecca Tobin

The Equinox Hotel is so far a brand of one; it's not a member of a storied luxury chain. In its building in New York City's Hudson Yards development there isn't a vaulted marble hall or classical detailing in sight. And yet, it's one of the most luxurious hotels I saw in 2019.

I've been thinking about what makes the Equinox Hotel a luxury hotel since I toured it for our luxury-travel #TWchats Twitter chat in December. Our hotels editor Christina Jelski suggested the Equinox as the location for our live chat, as she'd seen the hotel last summer when it opened and thought it would fit the bill.

But the Equinox Hotel, which is a brand offshoot of the well-known, upscale fitness chain, is not a traditional luxury hotel. It's part of the new breed, and, as our luxury editor Jeri Clausing has written, luxury hotels do come in many forms. But what stayed in my mind was the Equinox's commitment to what appears to be millennial, 21st-century mores, which also happens to be its own mantra: movement, nutrition, regeneration.

So fluffy towels, yes, but also sustainable practices. Cocktails, but also water. A buzzy bar but also a hotel room that shuts out outside noises. It's High tech and high touch; it's got design attitude, but the staff is attentive and friendly. For that work-hard, exercise-hard exec who has money but not time to spare, this kind of hotel has it figured out, in the way of convenience and partnerships. It offers Blade helicopter transfers a block away, and Grown Alchemist toiletries in the bathrooms that have a scent inspired by herbs grown on the nearby High Line elevated park. It sources water and reusable glass water bottles from New York-based Brooklyn Water Co., which also picks up the empty bottles and returns them to the property cleaned, refilled and resealed.

The Equinox club itself is a strong brand partnership for luxury clientele, too, and all hotel guests are honorary members of the in-building gym, spa and lounge for the duration of their stay. 

The fitness possibilities are nearly endless; a list of complementary classes is displayed behind the concierge's desks, including runs up the Vessel structure in Hudson Yards and meditation sessions in the giant barrel saunas it has set up in its outdoor pool deck. 

Speaking of the Vessel and partnerships, there are synergies that the Equinox Hotel can draw from its parent, Related Cos., which developed the Hudson Yards complex. One of the building's prime benefits, and a rare sight indeed in New York, is a private driveway where livery cars and Ubers can idle for a few minutes as their denizens pop in and out of the hotel with hard-side rollaboards.

The rooms are minimally designed, yet they seem to have everything a guest would want at their fingertips. The beds have two crisp white duvets, one for each sleeping partner (to combat against comforter hogs; you know who you are!), and blackout shades roll down to completely cover the windows, so the room can be completely dark. There are also complimentary yoga mats and stretching tools in the room, to promote mind-and-body relaxation (need a spin bike? there's the 60,000-square-foot club downstairs). No cut flowers here, but a Zen-like container of moss. And there are also small-batch spirits and sweets in the minibar. 

There's a word that's kicking around in the recesses of my mind that describes the Equinox experience, but the ones that came forward are: Seamless. Practical. And very, very "now."

Guests may be able to rejuvenate in the spa, or the gym, or the pool, or their room, but the Equinox Hotel pushes up against the energy of the city. The reception overlooks the buzzy restaurant and bar, Electric Lemon, which in turn overlooks Hudson Yards, so, looking out, guests can feel like part of the city but also, looking in, feel like part of the exclusive club. 

Jeri Clausing is on vacation.

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