Be Their Guest

W hite-walled guest rooms are cozy and bright, with feather-soft beds and light streaming through wide windows. Meanderers stroll around the lobby, stopping to check their email on a central computer or read complimentary copies of The New York Times and the Yale Daily News in a leather lounge chair. The attached restaurant, Heirloom, is one of New Haven’s most desirable, known for its locally sourced farm-fresh food, and those who appreciate a good cocktail can find kinship with a knowledgeable bartender at the bar or a small group of friends around a low candlelit table.

Still, for me, the Study at Yale’s most compelling aspect is less about the facilities and more about the feeling.

When I enter and approach the front desk, ready to introduce myself and inquire about writing this story, I’m stopped mid-sentence. “It’s Nora’s mom!” one of the women exclaims. Despite the constant turnover inherent to the hotel business, they remembered me from several months back, when I visited family staying there. My young daughter, screaming gleefully, had scampered from the lobby to the hostess stand at the restaurant about a million times while the friendly staff—to my relief—looked on with laughter.

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The hotel opened in 2008, making it downtown New Haven’s newest (joining The Omni, Courtyard by Marriott and New Haven Hotel). Despite its youth, or maybe because of it, the place is comfortable enough with its class to get a little clever. Bellmen, for example, wear collegiate attire: rugby shirts and baseball caps.

The uniforms still echo the, well, studious theme of the establishment, and they’re not alone. Tall bookshelves in the sitting area house a collection of literature, non-fiction and large art books, including works penned and donated by hotel guests.

Those guests often enough vary between Connecticut natives looking for a “night away” to the occasional celebrity cast member in town for a stage production (keep your eyes peeled).

Yet the mainstays revolve around Yale, says director of operations Anthony Moir. This makes sense, as the Chapel Street hotel is within walking distance to campus, as well as dozens of restaurants and boutiques. Regulars include visiting professors, alumni and Yale parents; indeed, the staff can become quite friendly with families of Yale undergrads over their four-year college careers, bookended by freshman orientations and commencements.

As for the hotel’s 124 guest rooms, in addition to the basics, there are eight larger “studies” and one presidential suite, all including a leather reading chair and work area. Nightly rates, of course, depend on date and room type, from around $190 to nearly $400, with special promotions and packages available, including a “Yale Repertory Package,” which gets you into an opening night performance as well as the after-party with cast and crew.

If you prefer to wait until after you’ve booked your rooms before deciding which of New Haven’s many diversions to pursue, staffers—who take walking tours to study the Yale campus and city as part of their training—are ready to offer suggestions or secure reservations or tickets. Especially to Yale athletic events: in addition to their relationship with the Rep, I’m told the Study’s got an inside track to Bulldogs tickets.

The Study’s engagement with the community extends beyond the front desk, though. For example, it works with non-profit literacy group New Haven Reads, planning an annual breakfast with Santa for children enrolled in the program; the children, in turn, design the holiday cards that the hotel sends to clientele and sells in the lobby (with all of the proceeds benefitting NHR).

And be sure to check out the hotel’s Aisling Gallery. Displayed works come courtesy of the Yale Art School, located directly across the street. Moir has personally perused the school’s halls, choosing different students’ work to feature. Artists are given a reception for 50 people and a valuable opportunity to sell their work.

“We don’t think of this as a hotel where you stay and then you leave,” says Moir of the overall approach. “We really wanted to be a cultural platform.”

As carefully crafted and upscale as The Study is, it’s still comfortable. Hence all the hanging out in the lobby. Here, visitors feel both important and at ease.

And those are pretty good feelings.

The Study at Yale
1157 Chapel St, New Haven (map)
(203) 503-3900

Written and photographed by Cara McDonough. This updated story originally published on December 6, 2012.

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Cara McDonough has been a journalist for over ten years. She writes regularly about family, parenting, religion and other issues for The Huffington Post and chronicles daily life on her personal blog. She lives in New Haven with her husband, two children and two dogs.

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