The Chatwal Hotel, New York: A Trip to the Past

A small, luxury boutique hotel located just steps away from the heart of Broadway’s Theatre District, The Chatwal (West 44th Street) offers a unique New York experience for both business and leisure travellers alike.

Often referred to as the jewel of Manhattan, the 76-room hotel draws inspiration from the Art Deco designs of the 1930s, combining the golden age of travel with the modern day conveniences of a true 5-star product. A member of the prestigious Luxury Collection Hotel group, The Chatwal’s fine amenities include the Red Door spa, a private chauffeur driven town car, a personal butler and indoor pool.

A Theatrical Past

Prior to the development of the hotel, the iconic Stanford White building at 130 West 44th Street was the epicenter of American theatre during the 20th Century. Originally built in 1905, the building was for many years home to America’s first professional theatrical fraternity, The Lambs (taking their name from the English essayist and drama critic, Charles Lamb), whose members included Fred Astaire, Mark Twain, Spencer Tracy, George M. Cohan, W.C. Fields and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, to name just a few.

The Lambs remained at the building until 1974, relocating to 3 West 51st St. following its purchase by the Church of the Nazarene.  Though the church intended to transform the old building into a mission, part of it was later leased for the noted Lamb’s Theatre, who staged many successful Off Broadway productions until 2006, when it was sold by the Church and became the Chatwal Hotel.

Stanford White: A Master Designer

A partner at prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, Stanford White was the original architect of the Lambs clubhouse on 44th Street; a pioneering designer whose principles embodied the American Renaissance, as seen in his designs for The Washington Square Arch, Madison Square Garden and the New York Herald Building, as well as the summer homes for the wealthy Astor and Vanderbilt families.

For the Lambs, he designed a six-story, neo-Georgian brick building featuring a facade ornamented with six rams’ heads and two rams’ profiles. On the first floor were the lobby with a bank of telephones, a grill room and billiard room; on the second floor was a banquet hall; and on the third floor a small theater. The top floors provided space for offices and sleeping quarters for members.

The size of the building was doubled in 1915 when an addition was constructed on the west end of the building (a virtual copy of the original), and in 1974, the 44th Street building was designated a Landmark by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission.

The Next Chapter

Under the direction of Master Architect and Designer Thierry Despont, the turn of the Century building has been meticulously restored and modernized as an 76-room hotel of traditional glamour and contemporary luxury.

Throughout the property, Despont has made subtle nods to the buildings theatrical and historical origins. A striking floor-to-ceiling 18th-century stone fireplace ( originally a gift from Stanford White to the Lambs) acts as a centerpiece for the hotel’s restaurant – lovingly named the Lambs Club – and decorated with black-and-white photographs of original Lambs members.

Distinctive elliptical doors (originally part of the Grill Room) have been restored and reinstalled in The Chatwal’s private function room, whilst the iconic facade of the building has been restored to its former glory, complete with original marble Rams heads and a marble plaque alluding to the glory days of the Lambs.

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