Assessment: Freehand New York – NerdWallet

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New York Metropolis resorts are a dime a dozen. I’m lower than two hours from the town, so I pop in usually to go to with pals, take a look at an occasion, see a brand new exhibit, you title it. After I keep in a single day, I’ve my favourite properties, after all. However after I stick with pals, they usually decide a spot and I succumb to no matter deal they could have discovered on-line.

Such was the case with a keep to the Freehand Lodge.

We had been going to take a look at a live performance at Gramercy Theatre, so we wished a spot inside strolling distance. Seems Freehand lately opened within the Flatiron District, promising an “creative group.” A fast search confirmed Conde Nast Traveler added it to their Scorching Listing. Effectively, then. Who was I to evaluate? I used to be prepared to offer it a shot.


Housed within the former George Washington Lodge on Lexington Avenue, the Freehand was beforehand an artist’s haven. Freehand has a comparatively new assortment of resorts present in Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago that’s catering to the world-traveling crowd. These properties are supposed to be cheap but stylish, present group but privateness and be a resort whereas breaking the boundaries of what a resort needs to be.

Freehand used its Bard School neighbors to assist create the resort’s creative vibe. Fifteen college students and alumni labored on unique visitor room paintings, hand portray the 394 visitor rooms and restaurant areas. The property formally opened to the general public in 2018.


As a brand new resort group, Freehand doesn’t but provide a rewards program. There could be no factors reserving for this keep. In August, Freehand’s mother or father firm, Sydell — which additionally manages the uber-trendy NoMad properties — was acquired by MGM Resorts Worldwide.

We are able to speculate that Freehand will probably be integrated into the M life Rewards program, which additionally crosses over into the World of Hyatt, however till speak turns into actuality, the one solution to earn factors is utilizing a rewards bank card. The Chase Sapphire Most popular® Card offers you 2 factors per $1 spent for reserving a room, spending on the bar and a bunch of on-site facilities.

» Study extra: Chase Sapphire Most popular assessment: Vital for vacationers

Reserving immediately by way of the Freehand web site will get you a decrease charge than utilizing Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz. The Freehand website even reveals the worth distinction between these websites.

There have been two of us seeking to share a King room. The usual King, at 250 sq. ft, was $326 per evening and the bigger 325-square-foot Large King was $355. A Nook King was 50 sq. ft greater for $383 per evening.

Since we simply wanted one evening, we went low cost. Charging $326 per evening on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earned three factors per $1 spent — yielding practically 1,000 factors earlier than any extra expenditures.

Transportation and check-in

We had been arriving by automobile. Though the resort doesn’t provide parking (or valet), there was a parking storage across the nook that offered in a single day parking for lower than $50.

Test-in was quite simple after I arrived. I used to be the one one, so I acquired fast service. The foyer is reasonably small with a store/cafe and a restaurant that didn’t open till 5 p.m. It’s a bit European in that the restaurant, Simon + The Whale, closed following its lunch service that ended at 2:30 p.m.

No drinks till 5? That is Manhattan, in spite of everything. I requested the place I might get a drink whereas I waited for my pals. Oddly, the mezzanine-level bar and the rooftop bar each wouldn’t open till 5:30 and 5, respectively. Right here I used to be at three p.m. check-in with nothing to do however head to my room and wait. (Observe: The rooftop bar, Damaged Shaker, now opens sooner than throughout my keep; maybe sufficient individuals complained?)

The room

Entering into my King room, I instantly wished I had splurged on the bigger model. The room was very tight. Sparse in decor, however becoming all of the wants with a big flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi. The room jogged my memory of a European fashion house. A basket of apples hanging from the ceiling in a nook of the room was a pleasant contact, and the mattress was tremendous comfortable.

As needs to be the case at any worthy New York resort, the home windows are soundproof to maintain out the fixed barrage of automobile horns and sirens and guarantee evening’s sleep.

Freehand presents greater than the usual queen and king rooms. It’s a hostel-style resort meant to attract youthful travels. A 3-person room is obtainable with a queen mattress topped with an overhead twin. The bunk room has two units of bunk beds to sleep 4 individuals. Each room varieties look very very like the dorm I lived in at Emerson School — all that’s lacking is a desk.

Nonetheless, there’s something for the, dare I say, extra subtle traveler within the Suite possibility. These are designed to seem like metropolis flats with shag rugs, IKEA-looking furnishings and residing house.


When the aforementioned Simon + The Whale opened, my pals and I had been capable of get pleasure from Freehand’s anchor restaurant, positioned on the road degree with views of the town and home windows that open to the road throughout hotter climate. The restaurant may be very a lot anti-hostel, with a gourmand menu that includes dishes equivalent to Fava Bean Ravioli with pickled onion and mint oil, in addition to a late-night snack menu with smoked mussels and hen liver pate with banana bread.

On the alternative facet of the resort, with the foyer separating the 2, is Smile To Go, a espresso store and lite bites possibility, excellent for grabbing a croissant within the morning earlier than heading out for the day.

The second flooring Studio is a mixture of a bar and communal house. You’ll discover individuals on their laptops working alongside pals throughout the day. The bar and eating possibility don’t start till four p.m., apart from brunch on weekends.

For a extra refined drink possibility, seize a cocktail at George Washington Bar, named for the unique resort and positioned within the former resort’s library. An alternative choice is the rooftop bar, Damaged Shaker. After all, the rooftop is greater than a resort bar. It is a hip house for metropolis dwellers as properly, as a result of who doesn’t love taking within the views of Manhattan, cocktail in hand, from a rooftop?

Room service is obtainable, in addition to fundamentals like Wi-Fi and a 24-hour health heart.

Tip: Use your journey rewards bank card, equivalent to Capital One® Enterprise® Rewards Credit score Card, when consuming and imbibing, as you’ll earn 2 miles per $1!

» Study extra: Capital One Enterprise assessment: Simple earnings, easy redemptions

The downsides

It was most likely simply rising pains, however service was arduous to come back by on the Freehand. Following my solo check-in and disappointment that there was nowhere to seize a drink, I headed out, passing by way of the foyer that had a line of individuals trying to test in. There have been solely two staffers behind the desk to assist. I used to be grateful I had missed the road however was sadly caught up in it the subsequent morning when trying to take a look at.

Wrapping all of it up

The resort is minimalistic, and each second of my keep felt like I used to be again in my dorm, sharing a communal house with strangers. But that is the attract of Freehand resorts, and I’ve to say it was fairly good. No sprawling lobbies, forever-waits for elevators, rooms that seem like 500 different rooms throughout the town — Freehand may be very welcome within the sea of decisions throughout the town.

How one can maximize your rewards

You desire a journey bank card that prioritizes what’s essential to you. Listed below are our picks for one of the best journey bank cards of 2019, together with these finest for:

Planning a visit? Take a look at these articles for extra inspiration and recommendation:
Discover one of the best resort bank card for you
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