It’s common for visitors to New York City to look at booking a hotel within Manhattan, often sticking around touristy Midtown or maybe heading to a more stylish area like SoHo or Lower East Side.
Another NYC neighborhood to consider is Washington Heights, an Upper Manhattan neighborhood known for having a major Dominican American enclave and by its nickname, “the Heights.” Since September 2022, it also is the location of the Radio Hotel, the Heights’ first property of this kind.
The privately-owned boutique property is a new build development along Amsterdam Avenue near Highbridge Park.
Developed by Youngwoo & Associates, and designed by the architectural firm MVRDV, the Radio Hotel is a mixed-use development with 221 guestrooms; an 8,000-square-foot activated courtyard; a 170,000-square-foot office and retail space; and a 13,000 square-foot rooftop meeting and event space called “Above The Heights” with 360-views of Manhattan, the George Washington Bridge and the Harlem River.
Additionally, Jalao NYC, the hotel’s restaurant, is the second location of the Santo Domingo establishment of the same name and is known for putting an elevated twist on authentic Dominican dishes. It was created for Radio Hotel in partnership with owners Antonio Espaillat and Richard Sandoval.
According to Youngwoo & Associates Director of Acquisitions Bryan Woo, the Radio Hotel resulted from Washington Heights residents saying how family and friends visiting from the Dominican Republic didn’t have options for nearby stays.
“Many people we spoke to within the community were having trouble finding accommodations for visitors, with many sending their friends and family to hotels out in Jersey as the best option,” said Woo. “So, there was a clear need to bring a quality and affordable product to the neighborhood that provided top-of-the-line service all while maintaining accessibility.”
While providing a hotel option, Woo explained that its multipurpose design is to also foster a community setting. “We’ve also recently launched programming, like dance classes, domino tournaments, paint night and ongoing live music performances, open to hotel guests and people within the community for all to enjoy,” added Woo.
Overall, the property has a Lego-like structure with a colorful brick material and layered block style, to provide context as to its location.
“Each ‘block’ is color matched to the surroundings of Washington Heights,” said Woo. “For example, the yellow was taken from the awning of a local bodega. And each ‘block’ takes on the shape of architectural patterns found throughout the neighborhood. So even though at first glance Radio Hotel might seem to be a bit eccentric in a neighborhood of low-rise brick buildings, it actually fits in.”
The 23-story Radio Hotel reflects Washington Heights with its overall design being a nod to the neighborhood’s Dominican culture.
“We worked with several Dominican and local artists and merchants to curate pieces throughout the hotel,” explained Woo. For example, hair roller chandeliers within the lobby are in homage to Washington Heights’ salon culture. Another important aspect is that the hotel’s staff is bilingual; they can speak with guests in Spanish and English.
The hotel lobby contains a gallery wall of traditional carnival masks from the Dominican city of Vega on display. Throughout the hotel’s common spaces, including the elevators and stairwells, there are murals by both Washington Heights and New York-based artists. Jalao NYC holds hand-painted table tops reflective of typical Caribbean scenery, wicker furniture and a mural of a Flamboyant tree, which can be found in the Dominican Republic.
“No matter where you are at the hotel, whether in the lobby, in-room or in the restaurant, there are visuals that tell the story of the Dominican Republic and/or Washington Heights,” said Woo.
Woo added that the hotel’s event schedule includes a Domino Tuesdays series, painting and wine classes offered almost monthly through a partnership with Paint the Town, and Parillada Thursdays, an all-you-can-eat Dominican offering within the courtyard. “We’re very excited to bring programming to the hotel, which can be enjoyed by guests and locals alike.”
The Radio Hotel is located at 2420 Amsterdam Ave. in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.