By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010; 1:11 PM
You don't really check in at the Andaz Hotel Wall Street. It's more like you get checked in.
As soon as one of the hotel's floating "hosts" saw me reach the glass door with my suitcase, she stationed herself on the other side. Introducing herself, she grabbed my bag and led me to a couch, where she handed me a glass of iced tea and I handed her my credit card. She tapped on her handheld computer for a few moments, then escorted me to my room. There was nothing for me to do but sip my beverage.
"Personal" may not be the word that comes to mind when you think of Global Hyatt Corp., which launched the luxury boutique Andaz brand in 2007. But personal is what Andaz is all about. (My name was entered into the menu screen of the flat-screen TV in my room.) Andaz, after all, means "personal style" in Hindi.
Open since January, the Andaz Wall Street was recently joined by the Andaz 5th Avenue, located across the street from the New York City Public Library. I'd wanted to stay at that barely month-old property, but the $295 starting rate deterred me. (And it's only going to go higher as of Sept. 1, up to $435, thanks to the busy Midtown location.) I scored a special $200 rate on the Wall Street hotel's Web site (the starting rate is normally $250), so I stayed there instead.
Second choice did not disappoint. My 345-square-foot room had a large bathroom tiled in black marble and a shower big enough for a bench. The windows were seven feet high and the ceilings loftlike. I can't remember the last time I'd been able to stretch out so much in a Manhattan hotel room.
The trade-off, of course, was being on Wall Street, which is vibrant by day but not so much at night. Sure, I was close to Ground Zero and South Street Seaport, but the neighborhood felt a bit desolate.
Still, there was plenty to do in the hotel. Along with a bar and a restaurant, there's a spa and a larger-than-normal fitness room. And the hotel offers all sorts of freebies: WiFi, local telephone calls and all the minibar snacks, including a Dagoba organic milk chocolate bar and Terra chips. Some of the minibar drinks were also free, though not the alcoholic ones. No matter. The hotel holds an evening wine hour - with free wine and more free snacks - in the living room-like lobby.
My brother, Daniel, who lives in New York, joined me for that. We plopped down on one of the couches with several other guests, sipping wine and eating candied almonds. Then we walked up a steel-and-stone staircase to Bar Seven Five. There's no traditional long bar here, just several smaller ones that encourage you to interact with your server. As we watched, our friendly bartender mixed me a house variation of a gimlet that included gin, lime and mint. He poured it into my glass from a miniature shaker.
Later, after a night out in Manhattan, I sank into my firm, comfortable bed. Above my nightstand were one-touch buttons that controlled the lights and the shades ("work" was for lights on and "sleep" for lights off). I touched "sleep," and my shades dropped, shutting out all the city lights. I fell into the deepest slumber I'd had in months. And it felt as though Andaz had planned it that way, just for me.