'Cultural Curators' to Turn Tourists into New Yorkers at Murray Hill Hotel

By Heather Holland on December 26, 2013 9:19am 

MURRAY HILL — An extended-stay hotel opening in Murray Hill next month aims to help visitors live like "real" New Yorkers.

The William, at 24 E. 39th St. near Madison Avenue, is hiring "cultural curators" to guide guests in every aspect of their day-to-day lives in the Big Apple, explaining how to do laundry, buy groceries and get brunch.

“It’s like a hotel concierge on steroids,” said Michael Fuller, a spokesman for the hotel, which requires guests to stay for 30 days or longer. “We become a lot closer with our guests than we would with someone staying for three days. We become friends [and] we look at it as if they’re staying in our house."

The hotel has hired local artists, editors and foodies who try to learn the needs and preferences of the guests before they even arrive for their stay.

"These are individuals who know the best restaurants because they dine at them, have uncovered the best galleries because they've visited them... These are real New Yorkers offering our guests an unbeaten path to discovering New York City," said Alice Lee, guest services manager at The William.

Once the curators, whom the hotel declined to name, gather information about each guest, they prepare a handwritten itinerary that is waiting for the guests when they check in.

"Whether our guests are looking for a dive bar or a white-tablecloth, fine-dining experience, our curators search for the best in every category," Lee said. "Quite simply, our curators' roles are to eat, watch, play, listen and report back with their stories and experiences."

The eight-story hotel, which opens on Jan. 6, offers 33 rooms, including a couple of penthouses and some rooms with terraces. Each room's design is based on a color scheme for that floor, Fuller said.

“Each floor has a monochromatic color palette,” he said. “There’s a red floor…and a blue floor. Those colors are activated with each room. Each time you stay, you’re going to have a different experience.”

Fuller declined to reveal the rates for the rooms, but he said the prices change depending on the season and the length of stay.

Ahead of the hotel's opening, a pub called The Shakespeare opened in the basement last week, offering a small bar menu, ales and wine.

On New Year's Day, The Peacock restaurant will launch on the hotel's first floor, serving modern twists on classic British cuisine, including steak and chips, rabbit pie with apple cider and spicy lamb Bolognese. Prices for main courses range from $20-$29.

For dessert, The Peacock offers a variety of puddings, including a toffee date pudding and Cambridge burnt cream made with vanilla custard and crunchy caramel.

The restaurant will also be open for a special New Year's Eve dinner by reservation only.

The hotel plans to open an 80-person rooftop bar in the spring as well, Fuller said.

"For those coming into New York City for extended work periods or just coming into this location, the emphasis or the basis of The Williams is offering a really new, fashionable stay or experience,” said Christopher Najbicz, executive vice president of hotel operations.

The William is managed by Warner Hospitality Group, which also manages Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The building is owned by Shlomo Bakhash of Kash Group, who bought it for $9 million last year and renovated it from 19 rooms to a 33-room extended-stay hotel for $11 million.

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