Features 5 minutes 07 June 2023

How this Interior Designer is Transforming New York’s Hottest Boîtes and Hotels

Manhattan’s post-pandemic spaces are getting an upgrade.

Hotels Editor's Pick

There’s a sense of refinement permeating the projects by Gachot Studios. Boasting a star-studded portfolio including the penthouse of the landmarked Paul Rudolph building on Beekman Place and Glossier’s first flagship retail space, Christine Gachot has reignited New York City with imagination and creativity. However, the pandemic changed the City and its hospitality industry. That’s why Gachot, once again, is bringing her magic wand to Manhattan's haute hotels and hotspots. From Bar Pendry located inside the MICHELIN Guide Hotel property the Pendry Manhattan West, to Pebble Bar and Jac's on Bond, Gachot continues to elevate and redefine the city that never sleeps. Below, we chatted with the designer on what makes for a good hotel room, what her drink of choice is, and what MICHELIN Guide spot best sums her up.

What drew you to interior design?

Obviously the theater of it all, but honestly, I appreciate the logistics of ita bunch of people getting together to pull off something that’s flawless and seamless when people are experiencing it.

What is your design philosophy? 

Service and function first. The design team is really a backup band to the operations team, making sure that they can successfully deliver perfect service at all times. We’ve all been there, you’re somewhere that’s beautiful, absolutely stunning, but you wouldn’t be able to get a drink anywhere. That or the food would come cold. If you’re grabbing a burger late at night in the lobby of a hotel, it should arrive perfectly preparedand hotas ordered.

Courtesy of Gachot Studios
Courtesy of Gachot Studios

What makes for a fabulous hotel? And a fabulous experience?

For me, I’m looking for service. I want to feel safe always, and have an experience that’s curated just for me. I want my journey to be thoughtful and kind. One thing I learned with my 10 years in hospitality development is that you had to make sure each guest left feeling like they were the most important guest in the hotel. It doesn’t matter what price point or what room you’re in, the only thing that does matter is that you’re the most important guest.

When it comes to designing it’s all about the little things. I make sure the bed is one that the housekeeping team can make successfully. I make sure that you’re not reaching underneath your desk to plug in electronics. I want to make sure you have enough closet space so that you can unpack your clothes properly.

Most intriguing/experiencing thing you’ve experienced in a hotel?

[MICHELIN Guide Hotels Plus property] Ett Hem in Stockholm. If that’s not on your list, get on a plane this weekend. I’ve never really experienced anything quite like it. They make you feel and you do feel like you’re staying in someone’s home. The lobby feels more like a living room that Elsa Crawford designed. I hosted dinner there one evening, and they were just so amazing. They made sure everything from the table setting to flower arrangements were okay. There was no menu, just a chef cooking for my friends and family that night. It really doesn’t get much better.

Ett Hem
Ett Hem

What makes for a good vibe in regards to the design? What is the process like in designing bedrooms for a hotel? What’s the starting point?

I always tell people that you have to know your guests. It’s a great place to start when you’re designing or developing a project. You need to know why they’ve chosen to spend time with you. What are their aspirations? What do they want to get from the experience? What will they appreciate the most? Designing a hotel suite in Parrot Key is very different from designing a hotel suite in the Pendry. You don’t need a lot of bathing suit hooks in the room in New York City, but a piano is nice to have. You have to know what your guest’s expectations are, and what their needs are before they have to ask for them.

Design is such an emotion, it’s not a physical thing. It’s not just about warm woods, beautiful fabrics or custom wall coverings. It’s about the people who are operating the space that’s inviting you in. It really embodies a holistic experience.

How does the design/architecture work in relation to the drinks/menu?

You want to make sure that people are comfortable. What are your guests there for? A lot of them are there for cocktails, and of course there’s great food too, but I’m going to put the "B" before the "F" in a lot of these. One thing is making sure people have proper seat heights in relation to their tables so they’re not uncomfortable when they’re sitting there. Another is the interesting views. Some of these places have incredible views, and it’s amazing. But New York is also a place to see and be seen, you want to make sure people are able to see each other. We have some of the best people watching in the world here, so I want our patron to be part of that eye candy and visual excitement. The people who are coming become a part of the design.

Jac’s is a great example of that. You have a very buttery color with glass tables and Janette’s artwork, but the focus is on the people. What they’re wearing and what they’re drinking, that’s what makes it interesting.

William Jess Laird/Jac's
William Jess Laird/Jac's

What did you look to for inspiration behind Pendry, Pebble Bar, and Jac’s?

With Pebble Bar and Jac’s, we really played to the neighborhood. Pebble Bar has such a wonderful history that we wanted to honor, and we were really inspired by the multi-levels and scale of it being inside Rockefeller Center. It’s this tiny little thing in the midst of madness.

Jac’s was just easy. I lived on Bond Street for 20 years, and it’s a neighborhood staple. It’s really a spot that was built for the neighborhood, by the neighborhood.

And with Pendry, Michael Fuerstman just comes with a wealth of knowledge. He knew exactly what he wanted, and it was this sort of California light in the middle of New York City. So we took this little component of an incredible neighborhood and made it a place where you can just come in and take a deep breath and really have a palate cleanser from all the hustle and bustle that’s happening outside.

Describe each spot in 3 words.

Jac’s: Smooth, fun, community

Pebble Bar: Small guy, big neighborhood (I know that’s four!)

Pendry: Lighting, art, warmth

Courtesy of Pebble Bar
Courtesy of Pebble Bar

What’s your item of choice on the menu at Pendry, Pebble Bar, and Jac’s?

For Pebble Bar, it has to be The Rock (one whole lobster, six yuzo kosho oysters, six cocktail shrimp, scallop crudo, crab salad, tuna spread, and Royal Ossetra Caviar with Pain de Mie toast).

Jac’s would be the French’s Shrimp & Avocado (little gem lettuce, lime, French cocktail dressing) and Killen’ Em Softly cocktail (Patron Reposado tequila, Amontillado, Sherry, strawberry, lemon, and basil eau de vie).

At Bar Pendry, it's definitely the French fries and their house margarita.

Liz Clayman/Bar Pendry
Liz Clayman/Bar Pendry

What is the story behind your favorite piece in each space?

They all really revolve around art and music. For Bar Pendry, we commissioned a mural by the talented Nancy Lorenz. We based the entire room around the piece. And then Hervé Descottes from L'Observatoire International did all the lighting. I’d love to take credit for it all, but it’s really the magic of Nancy’s artwork and Hervé’s lighting that shines through.

At Jac’s we leaned on Janette Beckman, who’s a neighbor on Bond Street (and not to mention one of the most famous and prominent hip-hop photographers). She curated all the artwork and photography in the space, and brought this real 90’s vibe to Jac’s that I love.

Pebble Bar obviously has the piano that’s got a lot of famous folks who play there often, so that’s incredible. But there’s also these Ojas speakers that are custom made by Devin Turnbull. They took all these vintage elements and turned it into something that not only sounds amazing, but also beautiful to look at.

William Jess Laird/Jac's
William Jess Laird/Jac's

What’s the first thing you do when you get to your hotel room?

The first thing I do is fully unpack. The next thing is check out the minibar. I love a good minibar curation, you have no idea. I look forward to trying whatever products that are local and different flavors. I love the product curation, because these are small explorations within your journey that’s much larger. You’re almost on your own little vacation inside your hotel room.

Must have minibar item?

A cold beer. It’s universal. Whether you’re getting a late night burger, home from a party, or getting ready to go out, a cold beer is perfect.

What’s your hotel essential?

Stationary! I’m a big fan of writing people handwritten notes, I’ll write to family or friends that I miss them or share a sentiment of where I am.

If you were a MICHELIN Guide restaurant or hotel, which one would you be and why?

You had me at Ett Hem. Ett Hem is a verb in my life.

Ett Hem
Ett Hem

Hero image: Pendry Manhattan West

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