BY KAREN REMPEL | Love for sale? Last August, I learned the sad news that the Meatpacking District’s last remaining “short stay” hotel, the Liberty Inn, was up for sale. I hadn’t been aware of the inn, though I’d walked past it many times. But I was devastated that Manhattan was losing another tree in the garden that gave the Big Apple its original sin.
The Liberty Inn beckons people to liberate their lustiness. Built in 1908 as a hotel for sailors, the inn is a red-brick pizza slice of a building, the lone occupant of a tiny triangular block beside the West Side Highway, just below West 14th Street. It’s been in business under this name for more than 40 years, with features “tailor-made for romance.” Though perhaps “romance” should be in quotes as well. Previously, it was the Hide-a-Way Motel, operated by the current owner’s father. Until the mid-1980s, the hotel shared the building with The Anvil, a famed gay nightclub.
If you know me at all by now, you can well imagine what I did next…booked a room to check it out for myself!
I discovered that the Liberty Inn permits overnight stays on Saturday and Sunday, so I paid a very reasonable $200 to spend the night. (Recommend this gem to your out-of-town guests!) I booked an “Amour Room.” I was planning a fun, solo staycation, though I brought a friend along to check in with me, so I didn’t look like a complete loser. We went upstairs together and I slid the card into the lock with a feeling of anticipation. To my shock, the room was bathed in eerie green light. At first I was a bit horrified, feeling I’d been transported into a sci-fi horror flick, but green light turned out to be amazingly flattering. Who knew?
We marveled over the “Liberator” sex chair and the erotic artwork. I quite liked the stylish green and orange decor. Feeling suitably titillated, we went to dinner in Chelsea. Then I ditched my friend, caught bassist Christian McBride’s show at the Vanguard, and walked back to the hotel solo. A bunch of food trucks were parked out front, with families enjoying themselves in the warm summer air and young people in a Saturday night party mood roaming around in packs. I got ice cream from a truck and strolled over to Little Island to lick it. A perfect evening! The desk clerk seemed a bit disapproving that I returned to my room alone and asked if my friend would be joining me later. Aha, loser in the end!
So I felt I might be redeeming my image a bit when Amy, Phil and I booked into the hotel as a threesome for this month’s photo shoot. They arrived ahead of me at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, and were told that threesomes are not allowed in the hotel. Major image crush. But I had read about this on Yelp, so when I got there, I knew what to do.
I had to wait a few minutes while a couple checked in and another relaxed-and-happy-looking couple checked out after their nooner. Daisy, the blonde, obdurate desk clerk said, “Only two people in a room,” and I said, “I remember you from when I was here in August. Nice to see you again! How about if I book two rooms?” That was the trick — pun intended. The hotel will allow afternoon threesomes in one room if you pay for two rooms. She relented, “Since you’ve been here before and know the ropes.” But she told me that evening threesomes are not allowed, as the parties tend to get too noisy, with a lot of drinking. Liberty is crumbling.
When we left two hours later, the room cleaner was waiting by the desk. I gave her a generous tip, since I forgot to leave one on the bed and I had spilled blueberry port all over the bathroom. There might have been some spilt Prosecco by the bed as well. You know how wild these threesomes get!
I was surprised that the hotel was still operating, given the massive press coverage of the sale offer last August. The longtime owner, Edward Raboy, was asking more than $20 million. Daisy told me that there had been a lot of buyers coming to look at the place in January, and one of them is considering converting it into a nightclub. Perhaps all is not lost, and the days of The Anvil will return.
If you are feeling in the mood to refresh your romance, rates start at $95 for a two-hour stay in an Amour Room. I highly recommend this classic New York experience.
⦁ Zip It vinyl micromini skirt with front zipper and silver loops. Purple Passion, 211 W. 20th St.
⦁ Purple cotton off-the-shoulder tee. Judi Harvest Chelsea studio sale.
⦁ Pleaser transparently invisible dancer shoes. Hustler Hollywood, 41 W. Eighth St.
⦁ Black wide net fishnet stockings. DSW, 40 E. 14th St.
⦁ Barbell-tipped copper wire hoop necklace. Barre3, 11 W. Eighth St.
Rempel is a New York-based writer and artist. For her past columns and more Philip Maier photos see karensquirkystyle.nyc.