When the Wall Street Journal announced that investor Joseph Chetrit had purchased the Hotel Chelsea in New York for $80 million, it kicked off a new chapter in the hotel’s colorful 127 year history and raised even more questions about the fate of the hotel’s last remaining links to Bohemia.
The landmark hotel in Chelsea has been home to a long and illustrious list of famous writers, artists, actors and musicians from Mark Twain and Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan and Madonna. Madonna even wrote a book here, and the hotel has starred in famous films like ‘Nine 1/2 Weeks’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Chelsea Girls.’
The hotel has 125 guest rooms and 100 odd apartments for rent, but it’s also a tourist destination and offers history and art tours, and is a popular place for photo and film shoots.
But there’s another side to all the art and counterculture, which has led the hotel into a hole financially because of the cheap rent controlled apartments and the practice of letting struggling artists stay on.
A string of managers have tried to clean things up and turn it into a regular hotel, but the Bohemians have been more than a match for anyone the hotel’s owners have brought in.
Things had been especially tough for the previous manager Andrew Tilley who quit after taking the punishment for seven months. When Tilley tried to ‘fix’ Bob Dylan’s room, the tenants raised such a stink that the Dept. of Buildings stopped the hotel from making any changes.
Tilley says he and his wife found themselves subscribed to 79 magazines in different languages, and were subjected to other forms of crude humor. One manager before Tilley claimed to have been spit on, and one of the hotel executives says he was sent fish in the mail and ‘wanted’ posters with his face were plastered on the hotel.
It is this gang of cut-throat culture warriors that new owner Joseph Chetrit will be taking on. He’s made his intentions about cleaning house pretty clear, starting with the cancellation of the Palagia “orgies” – a 11 year tradition of wild parties at the hotel reportedly attended by actors, musicians and TV personalities, and of course the hotel residents.
If the new ownership can fix up the place and relocate the diehard residents, it won’t be long before the Hotel Chelsea becomes one of the top hotels in New York. The guest rooms and suites ranging from $199 to $460 offer floor-to-ceiling windows with air conditioning, cable TV and free wireless internet.
Photos – scalleja
More info: 222 W 23rd St New York NY 10011; (212) 243-3700