I’d been hearing about Sleep No More, what’s become New York City’s most infamous theater experience, for months. Finally, I went.
I’d describe it as Macbeth-meets-murder-mystery-theater set in a haunted house. It was amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before here in NYC (eat your heart out Fuerza Bruta). My only regret would be that I knew too much about it ahead of time. So instead of sharing all the dirty details (like how I got blood on my coat*) or giving you special tips (like which character to be sure to follow for the best part**), I thought I’d concentrate on the one thing that would most interest a traveler: the setting.
*It was fake blood.
**Don’t worry, there is no such thing as ‘best part.’
Sleep No More takes place in “The McKittrick Hotel” (a.k.a an event space on Manhattan’s West Side, but you wouldn’t know it once inside), which The New York Times described as “A 1930s pleasure palace.” Every inch of the space is intricately decorated to instantly transport you to that golden age. From the wallpaper to the geometric floor patterns to the light fixtures and the furniture, the attention to detail is truly amazing. The creepy cast also dons gorgeous vintage threads and the experience is set to (mostly) retro tunes. At the conclusion of the show, guests end up in a bar where a very hip jazz band provides the live soundtrack to the myriad of indescribable thoughts you have on what you just saw.
If you aren’t lucky enough to score tickets to the show (which recently extended through to the end of March), you can have your own rendezvous with the past at one of these amazing American art deco hotels:
The Chatwal, New York
Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields called this Times Square hotel their second home when they frequented its original Lamb’s Club. That same club’s walls still stand today in the form of the Lamb’s Club Bar and Restaurant, where guests can get comfy in chrome and red leather chairs, and drink bespoke cocktails. Upstairs, 83 rooms decorated with suede-covered walls and leather-wrapped closets make it easy to transport you back to the golden age of travel.
The Essex House, New York
This hotel that sits on Central Park South has been a city gem since 1931. It recently underwent a $90 million dollar renovation, but remained true to it’s ’30s art deco roots.
The Raleigh, Miami
We can’t discuss art deco hotels and not include one of Miami’s best. At once relaxed and sophisticated, The Raleigh exemplifies South Beach and Miami’s art deco charm. One of 41 Hotels built between 1940 and 1942, a period called “Boom over Miami,” The Raleigh is situated among Miami Beach’s parade of art deco hotels on Collins Avenue.
The Elysian, Chicago
First time visitors are struck by the amount of white marble in the lobby of The Elysian, offering an instant transport to days gone by, but also a breath of fresh air.
Hotel deLuxe, Portland
One step into this Portland hotel and you’ll be transported to 1930s Hollywood. Each room is uniquely decorated with touches of oak and mahogany furnishings, sumptuous headboards, and retro crystal and Lucite lamps, which all tastefully balance art deco and modern.
The Sunset Tower, Los Angeles
A discussion about Art Deco wouldn’t be complete without a stop in L.A.. And no other hotel recalls the Hollywood of decades past more than The Sunset Tower. Recently renovated and restored, the hotel’s original 15-story building was designed in 1929 and served as a residence for the likes of Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Howard Hughes.