One Year Ago: The Last Thing We Did Before NYC Lockdown 2020 Was Check Out the New Dream Downtown + Saatchi Art Collab
(Note: this was a story first published on March 10, 2020 – the day after our last night out in New York City before the shelter-in-place order went into effect. We thought reposting it would be a poignant reminder that we are in fact one year into a pandemic that at that time we thought would actually last about six weeks. It’s perhaps also a way to remember just what it felt like to go out without any social distancing regulations in place. We had a wonderful time, even though we were well aware of the dark black cloud that was moving in – one that would still be hanging over us twelve months later.)
We’ve spent untold hours over the last eight+ years at some or other zeitgeisty happening at the Dream Downtown hotel—so it was perhaps appropriate that the last thing we did before the NYC coronavirus lockdown was to pop over to check out the hotel’s exciting new collab with Saatchi Art.
Looking back, when the Dream Downtown opened to much fanfare in summer of 2011, it quickly established itself as a hotel that could step in and pick up the slack for the fading Chelsea nightclub scene all around it. It had a rooftop bar, poolside lounge, the Electric Room by Nur Khan, and a lobby that seemed to be perpetually humming with the comings and goings of the international mediarati.
It also made a commitment to cultivating a relationship with the contemporary art world, well before pretty much everyone else came along and attempted the same thing. And nearly nine years after its debut, the new partnership with Saatchi Art merely cements that commitment—which was actually launched with sister hotel Dream Midtown—and the result now adorns the gallery area between the lobby and elevator banks.
Perhaps sensing the upcoming scaling back of non-essential travel, we actually decided to also actually check in to the Dream Downtown for the first time. And we hope in reading this, you will be inspired to take the hopeful step of planning future stays at the hotel, while we wait out the eventual ebbing of the coronavirus.
(Note, for the new Dream Downtown cancellation policy, just click here.)
Dream Downtown Art Collection
Prior to the partnership with Saatchi Art, the Dream Downtown already owned several notable works, most especially Shadow Secrets by Anish Kapoor, a fascinating detour from the massive sculptures that made him famous. But Serge Becker and Patrick Marando’s Beer Can Wall was hung epically within the lobby an proved particularly poignant, an assemblage of Mexican beer cans making up an American flag…what could be more relevant? But now appearing startlingly prophetic, AV One’s 2015 canvas comprised images of NYC landmarks spelling the words It Was All a Dream—and it’s hard to imagine any phrase striking a more visceral chord in the midst of this utterly surreal pandemic.
Dream Downtown + Saatchi
The partnership with Saatchi Art proves the Dream Hotels are able attract the a-list collabs, and the resultant Dream Midtown collection includes works by Jessy Cho, Camile O’Briant, Xan Padron, and Thomas Hammer. At Dream Downtown, having a dedicated gallery, rather than just scattering the art randomly about (we’ve even seen some hotels sticking it in the bathroom—oh dear), distinctly marks the hotel out as taking its program impressively seriously.
The inaugural Downtown exhibit is a bit more concise than Midtown, but no less destination-worthy. Madrid born and now New York Based, photographer Alejandro Áboli, with his “The RedLine” series, constructs fantastical realities, in which juxtapositions are intended to contort our imaginations, and provoke new perspectives. Both Los Angeles and Gotham are surreally represented.
And perhaps equally perception-altering, Brooklyn artist Neil Powell uses discarded/recycled book covers to create almost Spirographic/kaleidoscopic works that cross from collage to character study and stopping almost everywhere in between. They’re so shot full of fortuitous detail, you could ponder them for hours and not completely grasp everything going on.
“The pieces selected are by international artists who all now live in New York,” explains Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator and Vice President, Art Advisory Saatchi Art. “The artwork offers varying perspectives of this vibrant city, and in different formats including photography, paintings, and collages.”
We have come to expect something of the current generation of design hotels: extravagantly adorned public spaces, trendy bars and restaurants…but with sort of dull rooms. The Dream Downtown, however, has some of the most originally designed chambers in New York, with large porthole windows…in our case, affording a view across the Chelsea rooftops all the way to the Empire State Building. Our Silver King room was actually smartly postmodern, with a sexy, fuzzy ottoman, Turkish style rug, shining silver headboard (the pattern of which reminded us of champagne effervescence), a brown leather, low-slung version of a director’s chair, stylish, clear globe hanging lamps, and a prodigious glass bathroom, with distinctly luxurious tiling. The low rise platform beds are actually kind of sexy, as one can make a particularly wild flop down onto them.
Winter Rose Garden
We all know the devastating current situation with bars and restaurants. Yet we don’t see the point in ceasing to talk about them, especially as they will need our support more than ever once they reopen. The Dream’s Winter Rose Garden will actually be changed over on April 30, seeing as how it will be spring—but its sheer extravagance is proof of their commitment to making this conspicuous corner of the lobby a destination unto itself. We sipped martinis and margaritas amidst 15,000 crimson red roses, going out with a glorious bit extravagance before then being confined to our apartments.
First brought over from London in 2014 by a team including nightlife honcho Serge Becker (he has since departed), the darkly lit, sensually opulent Bodega Negra, situated just off the lobby, remains one of the hippest Mexican hotspots in NYC (now run by Tao Group). While overnighting at the Dream Downtown, we hit up happy hour, with excellent $6 sangria, $8 El Diablo specialty cocktails, plus specially priced queso fundido and quesadilla rustica. It’s precisely the sort of experience we’re looking to return to once this is all over: sexy, decadent, but also easy on the wallet.