Washington Square Hotel - One of New York's Last Family-Run Hotels

by Shelley Seale /
Shelley Seale's picture
Nov 23, 2009 / 0 comments





The Washington Square Hotel is one of the last of a dying breed: the family-run hotel in Manhattan. Fortunately, Washington Square carries its history and family feel front and center – and does it very, very well.

For more than a century this elegant building has been a hotel; it opened, in fact, in 1902 as the Hotel Earle and in the century since has provided a haven for writers, artists and visitors to Greenwich Village. Ernest Hemingway stayed here before WWI, Dylan Thomas was a frequent guest before drinking himself to death at the nearby White Horse Tavern, and Bob Dylan lived in Room 305 back when the Village was still beatnik. Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones and Joan Baez also count among its visitors; Baez even wrote a song, presumably about Bob Dylan, with the line, “Now you’re smiling out the window of that crummy hotel over Washington Square.”

The hotel might have been pretty crummy by the late 1960s – it began a decline and eventually became a boarding house – but nothing remotely suggests that era in its history today. In 1973, Daniel and Rita Paul purchased the hotel and began a rejuvenation that continued for decades. NYU was instrumental to a renaissance of the area and by the 1980s, it was a hot neighborhood once again and Washington Square Hotel was becoming what it is today: a stylish, comfortable, affordable hotel with a charming personality.

The Pauls’ daughter, Judy Paul, still runs the hotel today along with her husband, Marc Garrett. The extensive remodeling has added redesigned guest rooms, upgraded bathrooms, pillow-top mattresses, a fitness center and amenity upgrades such as free internet throughout the hotel. The lobby was also redesigned and a charming lobby bar added, that evokes Art Deco Paris with its authentic Parisian iron gate and gorgeous art – all the work of Rita Paul, who also created the stunning watercolor tiles accenting lobby walls. In fact, the senior Pauls still live down the block and Judy says that her father comes to visit every day.

Perhaps the comfort level and attention to detail comes from the fact that Judy and Marc actually lived in the hotel for six months. “Being here 24/7, we spent a lot of time walking the halls and really looking at the rooms,” says Marc. “We just soaked in the feeling and character of the hotel, and what we wanted it to be.”

The service is attentive and knowledgeable; about a third of the staff has been with the hotel for over a decade, and General Manager Sonny Christopher since the Pauls bought the property in 1973, when he started as a security guard. Washington Square Hotel is popular with NYU parents, business travelers and European visitors and enjoys a 20% repeat business rate. “We really listen to our guests,” says Judy. “We read every single comment card; we know we can’t be everything to everyone, but we appeal to a certain kind of traveler who wants history, character and personal attention.”

The rooms are small but fashionable, with leather headboards, warmly colored walls and fun mid-century style draperies. More of Rita Paul’s artwork lends a fun touch, with black-and-white portraits of Hollywood stars, adorned with a single purple rose. Bathrooms are fairly utilitarian but clean and offer plenty of counter space. Larger deluxe king and deluxe quad rooms are available for families or those desiring more space.

Additional features include a complimentary (and ample) continental breakfast in the North Square restaurant, which offers full-service dining with a sophisticated bistro fare and great Sunday jazz brunch, spa services on-site and meeting/event spaces. As Time Out New York put it, “The Washington Square Hotel reminds us that the truly hip don't have so much to prove."

Features & Amenities:
•    Duvet
•    Terry Cloth Bath Robe
•    Hairdryer
•    Clock Radio
•    Iron/Ironing Board
•    Cable TV
•    In-Room Safe
•    Phone with Voice Mail and Data-Port
•    Non-Smoking exclusively
•    Art-Deco Styled Furniture
•    Granite-top Vanity and Bedside Tables
•    Pillow-top Mattress
•    Redesigned Bathroom featuring Chrome Fixtures and Nightlight
•    Complimentary Wired High-Speed Internet Access
•    150 Smoke-free Guest Rooms
•    Complimentary Continental Breakfast
•    North Square Restaurant & Lounge
•    Deco Room/Lobby Bar
•    Fitness Room (personal trainer by appointment)
•    Massage/Facial Services (by appointment)
•    Complimentary Wi-Fi™ access in the Lobby and Lobby Bar
•    Meeting Space
•    Multi-Lingual Staff
•    Parking Nearby

Washington Square Hotel
103 Waverly Place, New York, NY
800-222-0418 or 212-777-9515
[email protected]
Room Rates from $200-370