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Hotel review: We stayed at the hip Freehand New York — you’ll love the artsy decor, affordable price, and great location

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider A new addition to Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the Freehand New York is perfect for budget-conscious travelers who want convenience and personality from their accommodations.The building itself isn’t new — it was once a hotel beloved by writers, as well as a dorm for art students. Rooms and public spaces are filled with…

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Hotel review: We stayed at the hip Freehand New York — you’ll love the artsy decor, affordable price, and great location

The Freehand 4x3


Alyssa Powell/Business Insider


  • A new addition to Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the Freehand New York is perfect for budget-conscious travelers who want convenience and personality from their accommodations.
  • The building itself isn’t new — it was once a hotel beloved by writers, as well as a dorm for art students. Rooms and public spaces are filled with original, commissioned artwork to honor this creative spirit. 
  • Nightly rates start under $200 and range from cozy, budget-conscious rooms with bunk beds, to spacious plush suites. I spent a night in a Corner King room.

More than a city for food lovers, media moguls, and finance titans, New York is an irresistible draw for creative souls young, old, and free-spirited. It’s this energy that fills the Flatiron District’s Freehand New York, a hotel that opened in 2018 and has quickly become known as a cool and affordable place to stay. 

The Freehand New York, which also operates hip outposts in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles, was once a student dorm for the School of Visual Arts, and before that, the George Washington Hotel, first built in 1928. Poet W.H. Auden, novelist Christopher Isherwood, and artist Keith Haring all counted themselves guests or residents.

This enviable connection gives the Freehand New York creative clout right away, though it doesn’t rely on its past to stand out among visitors to New York City. 

Rather, you’ll love it for art-filled accommodations steeped in character and personality — at highly reasonable prices. There are six room types, including cheaper bunk bed options, as well as various suites. My Corner King room was comped for review purposes, but research shows this type of room typically books for $280 per night, while bunk bed and queen rooms go for $200 on average, if you book ahead of time. 

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by the Freehand New York. 

1 Hotel Reviews Banner first impression


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freehand hotel review

The warmly lit lobby.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


Walking into The Freehand for the first time can be a bit jolting, especially if you arrive in the middle of a bright afternoon as I did. As my eyes adjusted to the warm, dim lighting and dark green-splashed walls, I noticed the lobby was approachable and inviting, with wooden architecture, cozy sitting areas, and abundant art. The Freehand commissioned students and alumni from Bard College to create original artwork, murals, and sculptures for public spaces, corridors, and all 395 guest rooms, 

There are two options for check-in: talk to a live person behind a desk, or use one of three digital kiosks. It wasn’t busy when I arrived, so I checked in with a concierge. He was friendly and pointed out key features such as Wi-Fi and hours for on-site amenities. When I checked out the next day, I tried the digital kiosk (partly because I didn’t feel like interacting with a human early in the morning) and that process was equally quick and smooth. Having two ways to check in and out is smart for peak lobby hours. 

freehand hotel review 1

The elevators may not be high-tech, but they boast style and historical appeal.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


Waiting for the elevator felt like a fun time warp. Instead of typical large, sharp, and industrial elevators, I rode up to my room in a narrow car that could have been mistaken for handsome painted doors from the outside. 

2 Hotel Reviews Banner The room


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freehand hotel review 2

A hand-painted mural overlooks the spacious Corner King room.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


After unwrapping my key card from a whimsically illustrated map of the hotel, I stepped into my 12th floor Corner King room.

It’s worth noting that this room type is quite different from simpler, and cheaper, bunk bed offerings. Those aptly named “Bunk” or “Three’s Company” rooms more closely resemble an upscale hostel and are best suited for guests looking to save money over spreading out in a luxe room. However, all rooms have a private bathroom, AC, and TV. 

My room housed a small desk and window-side sitting area in addition to the bed. While I sat to finish a story assignment, I was briefly whisked back to my college dorm days writing under an overhead light. This was, perhaps, not an unintentional effect considering the hotel’s past.

freehand hotel review 3

You can spend some time at the desk and sitting area, but we suggest exploring the rest of the hotel, too.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


I liked the variety of custom light fixtures, as well as small but thoughtful touches of functional decor. There were stacks of magazines and books, hallway coat hooks, built-in USB ports, a hanging basket filled with postcards and apples, and classic Bluetooth Tivoli radio. These details, along with framed prints and a large wall painting, made the room feel anything but stale. 

While the bed was quite comfy, I didn’t have the best night’s sleep. I’m not a light sleeper, but the intermittent noise of cars and sirens was enough to wake me up a few times. However, I can imagine the noise is much worse in other parts of the city, and dealing with some traffic is inevitable anywhere in Manhattan. If you’re sensitive to noise, ask for a room with a quiet location ahead of your arrival.

freehand hotel review 4

The bathroom was fine, save for the shower curtain design.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


The bathroom was small. The shower had good water pressure, however I had a problem with the curtain design. There was a sizable gap between the bottom of the curtain and the edge of the shower, which meant a lot of water splashed out. For a room that otherwise took care of practical features, this felt like a misstep that shouldn’t have been overlooked.

Overall, my stay was comfortable, and I liked that the room was neat and tidy. The space was perfect to rest and regroup, not necessarily to linger for too long. 

Book a Corner King, or explore other room types, here

3 Hotel Reviews Banner On site amenities


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freehand hotel review 5

A quiet but productive buzz ran through the mezzanine’s Studio.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


Save time to wander through on-site offerings such as the Studio, which is an ideal place to hit pause in the afternoon. Filled with natural light, there are plenty of tables to set up a laptop, or grab a drink (there’s both a bar and espresso corner). I saw people holding work meetings, typing intently, and chatting with friends. If you need to return an email, come here instead of holing up in your room. 

freehand hotel review 6

The George Washington Bar (left) versus Broken Shaker (right).
Connie Chen/Business Insider


The hotel’s two bars, George Washington Bar and Broken Shaker, offer two different atmospheres — the former for a moody, sophisticated, and intimate experience, and the latter for a fun, laid-back rooftop party regardless of the season. The Broken Shaker is especially popular with city residents, but as a hotel guest, you’ll enjoy a separate entrance to skip long lines. 

freehand hotel review 7

The menu changes seasonally, but I enjoyed a surprisingly delicious twist on roasted cabbage, squid ink tagliatelle, and duck breast.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


Make a reservation at Simon & The Whale, the hotel restaurant located next to the lobby. The neighborhood favorite has a seafood-leaning menu in an energetic, unpretentious atmosphere. 

Other notable on-site features include the large fitness center with treadmills and a handful of free weights and machines. There’s also a nostalgic game room, which has a few arcade and board games. 

4 Hotel Reviews Banner What's nearby


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The Freehand is located just blocks from Madison Square Park. Enjoy a burger from the original Shake Shack while admiring a close-up view of the Flatiron Building. It’s also surrounded by diverse, delicious restaurant and food options such as Gramercy Tavern, Eataly, Barn Joo, Thai Villa, Daily Provisions, and Breads Bakery.

The prime Flatiron location is the perfect launchpad, near major subway lines, and is far less hectic than Midtown, yet livelier than parts of lower Manhattan. 

Compare flight deals to New York on Expedia

5 Hotel Reviews Banner What others say


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The Freehand has a 4/5 rating from 400+ reviews on TripAdvisor. Since it’s fairly new, I’m not surprised it ranks in the middle of 508 hotels, but those who have stayed here before also rave about the friendly staff, clean room, great location, and “cool” factor. It has similarly favorable reviews on Booking.com, with an 8.7/10 rating. 

6 Hotel Reviews Banner What you need to know


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Who stays here: Budget-conscious families, couples, and small groups of friends. I didn’t see many business types. 

We like: The neat, comfortable room and easy access to top-notch food (Simon & The Whale) and drink (Broken Shaker). 

We love (don’t miss this feature!): The art, particularly in the Studio area. Take time to explore the mezzanine level and appreciate the fact that you’re practically living in a gallery. 

We think you should know: Consult the lobby bulletin board to discover fun and noteworthy events in the area. That calendar, along with the helpful and resourceful concierges, can help you find under-the-tourist-radar places and activities. 

We’d do this differently next time: Check out one of the bunk bed rooms to see how the living experience would differ. 

freehand hotel review 8

Take the stairs instead of the elevator to the second floor, and you’ll be rewarded with these gallery walls.
Connie Chen/Business Insider


7 Hotel Reviews Banner Bottom Line


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The Freehand is accessible in all definitions of the word, but especially geographically, financially, and creatively. It’s cool and artistic without being pretentious, and one of the best hotels in New York for budget-conscious visitors. The Freehand New York has all the practicality and soul of a hostel, without sacrificing any comfort. 

Book the Freehand New York, starting at $189 per night

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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A new pitch deck from IAC’s Dotdash shows how it plans to grow its media business after the Match spinoff

BI Prime Michael Seto/Business Insider This story requires our BI Prime membership. To read the full article, simply click here to claim your deal and get access to all exclusive Business Insider PRIME content. Barry Diller’s IAC is spinning off its dating sites business Match, which will leave media properties as a bigger part of…

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A new pitch deck from IAC’s Dotdash shows how it plans to grow its media business after the Match spinoff
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  • Barry Diller’s IAC is spinning off its dating sites business Match, which will leave media properties as a bigger part of the remaining company.
  • Those include College Humor and Dotdash, a collection of 11 service-oriented sites like Verywell, The Balance, and Lifewire.
  • At a December 4 presentation to investors, Dotdash laid out its business case.
  • Dotdash has been on an acquisition spree lately.
  • Dotdash said it’s one of the fastest growing publishers online, with healthy profit margins, and is giving established brands a run for their money in certain categories, and diversifying beyond advertising.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Barry Diller’s IAC is spinning off its dating sites business Match, which will leave media properties as a bigger part of the remaining company.

Those include College Humor and Dotdash, a collection of 11 service-oriented sites like Verywell, The Balance, and Lifewire.

At a December 4 presentation to investors, Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel laid out the business case for his company, which has been on an acquisition spree lately, buying niche sites including Brides and Liquor.com.

Dotdash said it’s one of the fastest growing publishers online, with healthy profit margins, and is giving established brands a run for their money in certain categories like health, finance, and home.

It’s laid the groundwork to expand into the lucrative beauty advertising category and take on Condé Nast and Hearst, with the acquisitions of Byrdie, Brides, and MyDomaine.

The bulk of its revenue comes from advertising, but commerce is a growing part of the mix, accounting for about one fourth of revenue.

Scroll down to see how Dotdash is positioning itself to advertisers and investors:

While other digital publishers consolidate, Dotdash says it’s growing rapidly, profitably.

Dotdash1


IAC


Dotdash’s sweet spot is news and information people need.

Dotdash


IAC


Its brands span categories that are advertiser-friendly: health, finance, beauty, and lifestyle.

Dotdash4


IAC


Dotdash focuses on service and information that people search for on Google.

Dotdash44


IAC


This graph shows how Dotdash says it’s challenging established brands in categories like health, finance, and food.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash’s content strategy relies on 125 editorial staffers and more than 1,500 freelancers who update articles as often as weekly.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash sites have a stripped-down look with minimal ads.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash’s sites have grown their audience dramatically since it relaunched or acquired them.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash says advertising is growing at an annual CAGR of 19%.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash is diversifying its revenue mix, with commerce becoming about one fourth of revenue.

Dotdash


IAC


Dotdash calls itself an attractive platform for advertisers with the ability to add new revenue streams.

Dotdash


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The federal agency that sued Elon Musk for fraud questioned Tesla’s accounting this year

Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated PressFinancial regulators questioned several aspects of Tesla’s accounting this year. The Securities and Exchange Commission wrote to Tesla’s finance chief seeking more information about its finances and accounting policies, and queried the company’s legal team over its withholding of information for competitive reasons. The SEC closed its review in late October, and…

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The federal agency that sued Elon Musk for fraud questioned Tesla’s accounting this year

elon muskRingo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

  • Financial regulators questioned several aspects of Tesla’s accounting this year.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission wrote to Tesla’s finance chief seeking more information about its finances and accounting policies, and queried the company’s legal team over its withholding of information for competitive reasons.
  • The SEC closed its review in late October, and agreed Tesla could keep certain information redacted until 2020.
  • The agency sued Tesla CEO Elon Musk for fraud last year after he tweeted about taking Tesla private and said he had secured funding and support from investors.
  • The lawsuit resulted in a $40 million fine, Musk stepping down as chairman, and board changes.
  • View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Financial regulators, after butting heads with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his tweeting, questioned several aspects of his electric-car company’s accounting this year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission queried Tesla’s last annual report and its latest second-quarter report in a letter to Tesla’s finance chief, Zachary Kirkhorn, on September 17, according to filings it shared this week.

The agency requested further explanation for changes in Tesla’s accounts, sales by acquired companies to third parties, and its exclusion of some costs from its warranty reserve. The agency also asked for more details of Tesla’s accounting of leased automobiles this year, following the release of new guidelines on their treatment.

Kirkhorn responded that the changes to Tesla’s accounts — including a big jump in its production costs — were largely driven by scaled-up manufacturing of the Model 3. He added that some of the companies it acquired were still contracted to sell goods to third parties. He broadly defended Tesla’s accounting of warranty reserves and lease accounting as kosher.

The SEC, seemingly satisfied with his reply, closed its review on October 28.

The agency also wrote to Tesla’s legal team on September 17, seeking unredacted copies of some financial information to assess whether the company was within its rights to withhold it from SEC filings for competitive reasons. In a follow-up letter on September 25, it agreed certain information from Tesla’s filings in 2017 and 2018 could be redacted until September 2020.

The correspondence suggests Tesla remains firmly on the SEC’s radar.

The agency sued Musk for fraud in the fall of 2018 after he tweeted that he was thinking about taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had “funding secured,” then added “investor support is confirmed.”

The lawsuit resulted in a $40 million fine shared between Musk and his company, Musk stepping down as Tesla’s chairman, and the company bolstering its board with new, independent directors.

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Here are the 23 companies that have hired most of Chicago Booth’s class of 2019

BI Prime This story requires our BI Prime membership. To read the full article, simply click here to claim your deal and get access to all exclusive Business Insider PRIME content. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers the third-best MBA education in the country, according to U.S. News. Booth’s latest graduating class is…

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Here are the 23 companies that have hired most of Chicago Booth’s class of 2019
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Even though fewer students are applying for US MBA programs, demand for graduates is as high as ever. Just look at where the majority of MBA students from the third best business school in the country, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, ended up after graduation.

Booth released data this week on the 23 employers that hired over half of the class of 2019. These employers reflect the three industries that drew most grads: consulting, finance, and technology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these are quite lucrative industries, with the highest reported median salaries. You can read a report on the salary breakdown for the graduating class by industry here

These are the companies that hired at least four graduates each from Booth’s latest class, listed in order of least to most graduates hired. 

23. Walmart Stores Inc.

FILE PHOTO: Walmart's logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo


Reuters


Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

22. The Vanguard Group, Inc.

Vanguard building




Glassdoor



Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

21. Accenture

Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2013.    REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo


Reuters


Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

20. Moelis & Company LLC

Moelis and Company


Google Earth


Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

19. Ernst & Young LLP

Ernst & Young




Glassdoor



Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

18. The Kraft Heinz Company

kraft heinz


Jason Kempin/Getty Images


Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

17. William Blair

William Blair and Company


Google Earth


Number of Hires: 4

Percent of Hires: 0.8%

15. Evercore Partners Inc.

Evercore Partners


Google Earth


Number of Hires: 6

Percent of Hires: 1.2%

14. A.T. Kearney, Inc.

AT Kearney




ATKearney



Number of Hires: 6

Percent of Hires: 1.2%

13. Bank of America Merrill Lynch

merrill lynch office


Daniel Barry / Stringer / Getty Images


Number of Hires: 6

Percent of Hires: 1.2%

12. Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley


Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Number of Hires: 6

Percent of Hires: 1.2%

11. Microsoft Corporation

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft sign is shown on top of the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018.  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo


Reuters


Number of Hires: 6

Percent of Hires: 1.2%

10. Citigroup, Inc.

The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren


Reuters


Number of Hires: 7

Percent of Hires: 1.4%

8. Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse


REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo


Number of Hires: 8

Percent of Hires: 1.7%

7. PwC Strategy&

PwC


Reuters/Danish Siddiqui


Number of Hires: 9

Percent of Hires: 1.9%

6. JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Number of Hires: 11

Percent of Hires: 2.3%

5. Google LLC

google office


Scott Brownrigg


Number of Hires: 14

Percent of Hires: 2.9%

2. The Boston Consulting Group

BCG Hudson Yards 6903


Sarah Jacobs


Number of Hires: 35

Percent of Hires: 7.2%

1. McKinsey & Company, Inc.

McKinsey & Company logo


Thompson Reuters


Number of Hires: 48

Percent of Hires: 9.9%

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