He may be best known for his onscreen performances, but offscreen no role better defines Robert De Niro than unofficial mayor of New York City's Tribeca district. By investing in everything from its dining scene (Nobu) to its arts industry (the Tribeca Film Festival), De Niro has helped establish the 'hood as one of Manhattan's hippest. And his latest debut could be his most ambitious yet: the eight-floor, 88-room Greenwich Hotel.
With its industrial-luxe aesthetic, the hotel (www.thegreenwichhotel.com) looks as if it has been there for a century. But it was actually completed earlier this year, its classically styled façade elegantly aged with red bricks handcrafted in 20 different shapes and sizes.
Inside, the hotel offers a similar blend of old and new. Rooms have iPod docks and wi-fi, but also sturdy oak beams recycled from abandoned factories, hand-cut Italian terra-cotta tiles in the bathrooms, and custom-made furniture inspired by early 20th century designs. A stay also grants you access to perhaps the hotel's truest luxury: its subterranean Shibui spa and pool. Low lit and nearly silent, the space contains an original 18th-century bamboo home from Tokyo, meticulously reconstructed onsite.
Thanks to its rumored $50 million price tag and A-list pedigree, the Greenwich has all the makings of a hotel blockbuster. With the rooms already booking up fast, perhaps De Niro might consider a sequel.