We Tried It: A Wellness Hotel that Features Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda (and Zero Alcohol!)

We Tried It: A Wellness Hotel that Features Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda (and Zero Alcohol!)

 

What It Is: The Assemblage John Street hotel and co-working space

Who Tried It: Sheila Cosgrove Baylis, PEOPLE.com health editor

Level of Difficulty: 0/10, nothing challenging about hanging out in this beautiful place!

The Assemblage is completely different than your average hotel — for one thing it smells really good.

I don’t know how they do it, but the entire place smells like fresh flowers after a light rainstorm. The impressive moss-covered entryway may have something to do with it. To keep this living sculpture gorgeous and mold-free, they have Plant the Future maintain it full time, along with other astonishing greenery throughout in the space. The hotel rooms even have plants — I don’t think I’ve ever seen a plant in a hotel room.

“It’s a portal of wellness,” says Judge Khanna, The Assemblage’s ambassador, “everything that happens outside, you’re leaving it behind to start from scratch.”

Walking into this hotel feels like being transported to another dimension. It’s on a busy, narrow street in the financial district in downtown New York City, where you are bombarded by intense sounds and smells (that day it was harmonizing jackhammers and rotting garbage), and then suddenly you find yourself in this naturally-perfumed oasis. Khanna points to a shining gong gracing the entryway. “It’s an intentions gong,” he says, ringing it. “It will bring your heart rate down.”

Even if the gong doesn’t chill you out, the rest of the space will. There’s an ayurvedic-inspired food and plant bar serving three meals a day, and several yoga and meditation rooms that guests can use on their own or during classes — 9 a.m. yoga and 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. meditation. I tried the sound meditation class which was truly excellent. The teacher, Paul Kuhn, had us lie down in the dark, and then encouraged us to let go of our worries and listen. He created a symphony from non-traditional instruments mixed with haunting recordings. He also incorporated our sense of smell (clearly a theme), by lighting incense or spraying scented concoctions at peak times during the meditation. I left both relaxed and enlivened.

There is also no alcohol in this hotel — no mini bar in the room. Instead, they have a Brita filter in the mini fridge. This is truly a revelation. I’d gotten used to the desert that is most hotel rooms (buy this $8 bottle or drink coldish tap water, fool!) and so this simple amenity made me feel like they really did care about guests’ health and wellbeing.

Instead of a hotel bar, they have an infusion bar with festive non-alcoholic cocktails with names like “lucid dreaming” and “nymphaea.” Each infusion targets a different part of the body — like the “release” infusion for the thyroid with ingredients like st. johns herb, kava, jasmine and passion flower. It’s a fun alternative to craft cocktails, and a great travel option for people in recovery, on retreat or simply needing to get up very early in the morning.

John Street, which opened May 1st, is the second location of The Assemblage, the other is in NoMad, another neighborhood in Manhattan. In addition to a hotel, there are co-working spaces where members can hold meetings or see clients. All day access to the communal lounges and desks is $495 a month; your own, dedicated desk is $1,200 a month; and $3,900 a month buys an office space that can fit an entire team. Membership provides access to all of the yoga and meditation classes and other events.

The Verdict: The Assemblage John Street is a special place. It has been designed with great care and genuinely promotes wellness. The downside is that you can’t go to the classes or the infusion bar unless you are a member or a hotel guest. I would likely attend the sound meditation class on a regular basis if there were a less expensive class-only membership option available.

As of August 2018, the hotel rates are very reasonable, on par with a generic hotel chain at around $250 for a double room. As people begin to discover it, rates will likely go up. The classes and food are high quality and the rooms are larger than average for New York City. They also have high-end linens, natural bath products and in-room books to peruse. (And don’t forget the plants!)

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