If you get off the High Line at 27th Street, you’ll notice a flat slab of silver wedged into the long row of industrial buildings, a shimmering Tetris block resting on the backbones of heaping gray metal. And you’ll notice a vertical sign affixed to its side, announcing the arrival of a tropics-based hotel baron who until now has yet to touch down on this country’s soil. It’s appropriate, then, that the vertical sign identifying the hotel reads “AMERICANO.”
The first stateside joint from Groupo Habita, the forward-thinking Mexico hospitality empire masterminded by Carlos Couturier, has just opened, and its coming out party came in the guise of the Brazil Foundation Gala after party. After holding last year’s event at the Boom Boom Room, it seems the annual Rio-caliber rager has found what could be a permanent home.
“We’re just here to have fun,” Mr. Couturier told The Observer on the roof of his new outpost.
We looked around. Hotel Americano was designed by Enrique Norten, and from the top of the place it all starts to make sense — the view is not of the glistening city but of the choppy rooftops that grope at the High Line, of galleries that dot Chelsea, of the old New York and a new one.
And the view is no worse off for that, for sure. The place smacks of charm, with a modest size and logical paths to party spaces. Last week, W held a late-night get together downstairs, where there is a sizable lounge and more private VIP nook, and on the ground floor there’s a commendable smoking space, wrapped by a fireplace atrium. And the roof is equipped with a pool in the summer, hot tub in winter — the inverse of the Le Bain clubbing-and-wading plan.
It seems Mr. Couturier’s first American place could be a hit.
“The Americano, it has a Latin feel, of course, but you can be from wherever,” he continued.
The Observer was slurping up the last of our Caipirinha.
“You leave your credentials at the door,” he said.
Perhaps on a normal night, yes, but not at last night’s event. The men in power tuxes slipped large bills into the pockets of servers for vodka (for their dates, stunning beauties in gowns, because, well, cachaça isn’t for everybody) and the Brazilian press corps went mad for the supermodels. Add a running soundtrack of pitter-patter Portuguese and heavy ambrosia of foreign perfume and, naturally, Champagne — suddenly with the summer dusk air you feel Rio.
But for most of those present, it was New York that was a vacation.
“This was the place, the club place,” said a Brazilian man, referring to that stretch of Tenth Avenue. The three men with him, all dressed the same, nodded. “Bungalow 8, everything. Now it’s just depressing.”
Anyone who’s walked by Marquee on a Thursday knows this to be the case, but perhaps Mr. Couturier can spark something again? There’s no Club Row-sized space inside Americano, but there’s no doubt there’s mischief to be made on that roof. And in that pool.
“It’s like the American dream, no?” Mr. Couturier said to The Observer. The highest spot in his hotel had now filled with the revelers, all up in packed elevator after packed elevator, one coming up after another — Jessica Hart in a blinding red dress, a bevy of Brazilian models, and others who could have traveled a while to get here.
“Want another Caipirinha?” we asked Mr. Coutourier, with his bow tie now a tad askew from dancing.
“Yes,” he said. “I’d love one.”