When it comes to dynamic travel destinations, few rival New York City. The 24/7 lights, the bustle of the jam-packed streets, the nonstop energy—it’s hypnotic. But the very things that make the Big Apple appealing can start to feel overwhelming to travelers, especially introverts who need down time. Where can they go for a recharge?
Sister City, a new hotel on the Bowery, is the serene sanctuary travelers have been looking for. Launched in May 2019 by Atelier Ace, the creative studio behind the Ace Hotel group, this 200-room property strips down the experience to just the essentials. No in-your-face art or over-the-top guest rooms. Instead, Sister City has created a peaceful atmosphere emphasizing beauty and simplicity—a refreshing change of pace from other boutique hotels in New York.
Here’s how Sister City has created a wellness sanctuary for introverts and mindfulness-focused travelers in Manhattan.
Check yourself in
When you try Sister City’s self-service check-in, you’ll wonder why every other hotel on earth hasn’t caught on to this system. The Finnish sauna-inspired lobby contains around a half dozen discreet check-in kiosks. Just step up, enter a few personal details and the seamless system will guide you on making keys for your room. The entire process takes around 60 seconds. The best part? No waiting in lines or feeling drained from immediate interaction with staff.
Across from the check-in station, you’ll find a beautifully curated mini shop of body products, noise machines, books, beverages and snacks—perfect for late-night munchies.
After such a speedy check-in, you might be tempted to rush to your room. But Sister City’s contemporary lobby invites guests to linger for a few moments. The space feels like a breath of fresh air, with a feature wall of plants, soft golden lighting, black and white checkered tile floors and a hodgepodge of perfectly mismatched chairs. A wall of custom cherrywood slats warms up the room and guides you a cozy seating area with a plush leather couch. The chic space sets the right tone for catching up on work, or better yet, poring over a novel.
Sister City has paid close attention to not only the look of the lobby, but the sound. It commissioned a lobby score from electronic musician Julianna Barwick that responds to changes in the environment, as captured by the rooftop sky camera and artificial intelligence technology from Microsoft. The “infinite and evergreen” music abstractly reflects anything from a pigeon flying by to a rainstorm or a cotton-candy sunset.
There’s a distinction between bare and minimalist rooms, and Sister City’s cozy accommodations fall firmly on the latter end of the spectrum. The hotel offers a range of room types, from including singles, queens and kings, as well as bunk beds. Each room is stripped down to exactly what a guest needs, without the sensory overload of too many amenities or extravagant furniture. The purposeful spaces feature ultra-comfy beds with soft striped linens and hidden drawers beneath the frame. Original Noguchi lanterns (each of which is hand numbered and stamped) create a soft, dewy glow—just the thing to put you in the mood for a little meditation, with the help of Sisters City’s partnership with Headspace. If you’re a sucker for city views, it’s worth booking one of the terrace rooms. Their expansive vistas of lower Manhattan will make you melt.
Sister City gives guests tools to take care of themselves. Need something for your room? Start by checking your floor’s self-serve linen closet. Each contains extra towels, irons and ironing boards, bath amenities and other hotel standards. Otherwise, you can make special requests on demand via the hotel’s website. Extra pillows, anyone?
Chilled-out restaurant and casual-cool bar
Sister City’s restaurant Floret is as down-to-earth as dining in New York gets. The 186-seat space has a grounded neighborhood feel with retro touches (like Art Deco-inspired bar lamps and wooden chairs that look plucked from school desks).
Chefs Joe Ogrodnek and Andrew Whitcomb designed a delightfully unfussy menu of dishes that highlight seasonal veggies, each plated to perfection. The Japanese eggplant starter is an absolute must at dinner. It’s perfectly tender and swims in a tangy, umami-rich broth. Pasta dishes come with chunks of the ripest, reddest tomatoes, while seafood is accompanied by inventive sides, like grilled summer beans and ramps. The chilled-out vibe of the restaurant and the casual yet attentive service make it easy to appreciate the creative flavors.
After dinner, head up the 11th floor for cocktails at Last Light. Do yourself a favor and order the frozen Moscow Mule. It zings with fresh ginger flavor and has a satisfyingly frosty texture. For round two, choose from a classic (like a mint julep or Hemingway daiquiri) or one of Last Light’s creations, such as the Pendant (vodka, rhubarb and lemon).
Then, settle in and enjoy the unpretentiously cool atmosphere. The hotel bar’s intimate booths next to floor-to-ceiling windows give you plenty of privacy (and views!). But if the weather’s nice, head out onto one of the two patios. Each has nooks and crannies that feel like your own quiet, personal perch above the Lower East Side.