Images by Kristen Spielkamp
With the drastic shift away from physical letter writing (and even dialing the phone), to communicating by text and email, it’s really kind of charming how, when you arrive in a new town or city virtually anywhere in the world, there are plenty of postcards to purchase and send off to your loved ones—as a way to viscerally reach across the miles that separate you. Often, we put more thought into what we write on those postcards.
At NYC’s Arlo SoHo hotel, however, they’ve been put to a different use. Indeed, after checking in, one walks just a few feet to the elevators, and opposite is an entire wall of spontaneously guest-generated messages. We’ve been watching the hotel come back to life these last few weeks, as it has been valiantly returning to semi-normal from those worst moments of the pandemic in New York back in April and May. We immediately noticed a single postcard that boldly read ‘Be Here Now’—a reference to the legendarily controversial 1997 Oasis album.
But it also sent a definitive message to everyone who viewed the wall: “Wherever you are, just be there.” Which happens to be a much more poignant statement than it normally might be, in these times when so many people readily abandoned Gotham out of understandable fear. And the Arlo, we can say without hesitation, has been a place “to be” at this moment—one where you could feel a bit of that old hum of NYC, while so much else (museums, shops, wellness centers) remain closed.
It’s a completely democratic concept—the “flashcards” are there for anyone to take and pithily or extravagantly express themselves, then paste it up beside all the others. And it’s the hotel’s clever way of making everyone feel a little more connected, during a time of rather dispiriting disconnect.
Naturally, we decided to capture some of it here, also getting a couple of Arlo SoHo staff members to pen their own messages. And even if you’re not staying at the hotel, we urge you to popping by for dinner in the garden at the newly re-opened and truly excellent Harold’s restaurant on site—pausing to leave your own brilliant thoughts up on the wall before departing. It’ll feel better than a thousand Instagram posts, we promise.