Although the New York neighborhood of Harlem has experienced a resurgence over the past decade or so, there was always still something missing — but that is about to change.
On November 4, Starwood will be opening a boutique Aloft hotel at 2296 Frederick Douglas Boulevard, in the heart of Harlem. The Aloft will be the only commercial hotel in the neighborhood, though hostels and some Bed & Breakfasts do call Harlem home.
Not since the Theresa, which closed in 1967, has there been a major hotel in the area, which is astonishing, given that “Big Apple Greeter, which offers free tours led by volunteer New Yorkers, gets more requests for Harlem than any other neighborhood except Greenwich Village. And double-decker tour buses pull up all day long on 125th Street outside the Apollo Theater, which attracts 2.5 million visitors a year for in-house tours and its famous Wednesday Amateur Night.”
Harlem is “vibrant and up and coming,” said Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Aloft Hotels. And that’s why Starwood chose the neighborhood for Aloft . . . The Aloft brand is known for being cutting-edge and innovative, and as we looked at Harlem, and all the way back from when Hotel Theresa opened up in 1913, which was quite avant-garde at the time, we determined that Harlem was certainly the right place to launch the Aloft in New York City.”
Aloft’s introductory rates are below similar hotels in midtown Manhattan — $239 at the Aloft for a king room Dec. 2 compared to $375 at the Four Points, $499 at the Sheraton Towers and $512 at the Westin Midtown.
It is truly astounding that while condos, townhomes, Starbucks and other major retailers have all popped up throughout Harlem, this is the only hotel to make it from concept to completion. We’ll see if the “if you build it, they will come” concept works here, and many additional hoteliers follow. I certainly hope so.