New York City, October 6, 2014 – Riff Chelsea, a musically-inspired walk-up hotel, will debut its soft opening in fall 2014 following a physical transformation that pays homage to its creative DNA.
In the early ’80s, pop goddess Madonna crashed at a rundown hotel called the Chelsea Star – the rumored inspiration for her first top-five hit, “Lucky Star.” The Chelsea Star relocated to West 30th Street and 8th Avenue, and now, has been reborn as the new Riff Chelsea.
Drawing inspiration from Madonna’s time at the original Chelsea Star, Riff Chelsea channels the glitter, glamour, and attitude of New York’s sexiest decade – the era of Danceteria, day-glo, punk-funk, no-wave, and nonstop collisions of fashion, music and art.
True to the anything-can-happen ethos of the ’80s, a former flower shop on the hotel’s ground level has become a rotating gallery curated by Chashama, an acclaimed New York artists’ collective that transforms empty spaces into spontaneous, creative venues for local emerging artists.
All of the Riff Chelsea is designed to feel like a 24-hour creative happening, the way New York did in that electric decade. As further inspiration for the brand, Riff’s young creators have cited Danceteria, the near-mythic Chelsea club where New York underground royalty from Karen Finley to Run-DMC, Keith Haring to Joey Arias, They Might Be Giants to Beastie Boys would hang out.
But the Riff brand is not about nostalgia, said Sal Smeke, a partner in Salt Equities. “Riff is about channeling the fearless creativity of an amazing decade in exciting new ways,” he said. His partner, Michael Wahba, agreed. “We want Riff to inspire our guests to take chances, explore, be spontaneous, break boundaries, and create their own New York experiences.” Wallpaper* City Guide New York will be available for guests to enjoy as a unique fast-track guide for exploring all that NYC has to offer.
The hotel consists of 44 retro-contemporary rooms, from budget-friendly singles with shared bathrooms to ultra-comfortable guestrooms with seating areas and en-suite bathrooms. The property will also feature six 500-1,000 square-foot “rock star” apartments in an adjacent building, which is connected by the hotel’s central design feature, a 600-square foot outdoor courtyard.
Renowned New York interior designer and editor Steed Hale, who helped shape the look of Studio 54 and SoHo’s T Salon, oversaw the Riff Chelsea’s vibrant décor, bringing it a fresh personality. Bold colors and eye-catching graphics will make every guest room different, with pop-art photography, edgy graphics, and bold, buzzy Jonathan Adler wallpaper.
Eighties-inspired amenities include copies of the perennially cool Interview magazine and Madonna NYC 83, legendary New York photographer Richard Corman’s book featuring timeless images of the rising star in the early 1980s. Enhancing the guest experience, Riff Chelsea is the first Manhattan hotel to partner with UrbanBuddy, a mobile concierge of local, in-the-know residents that are exclusively selected for their knowledge of New York neighborhoods, hot spots and cultural destinations. Available only in Brooklyn and Chicago until now, UrbanBuddy offers the Riff Chelsea guest an authentic experience by providing recommendations from like-minded people in the area through live chat on the UrbanBuddy app.
In 2015, the founders of Riff Chelsea plan to expand the Riff experience with Riff Downtown, a 36-room apartment-style hotel at 102 Greenwich Street in close proximity to the World Trade Center and Tribeca – another neighborhood where New York’s boundless creativity flourished in the 1980s. The property has a black and white themed look with curated mix of pop art by legendary artists Francesco Scavullo, Richard Avedon and Richard Corman displayed throughout. Huge windows and loft ceilings capture some of Tribeca’s singular flavor and history, and each room will feature a kitchenette and a washer/dryer unit. Riff Downtown will feature and alluring 2500 square-foot rooftop terrace and bar.