Metro Weekly

New York’s Former Playboy Club to Become Gay Hotel

A gay developer plans to transform a complex that once housed the Playboy Club into a gay-friendly hotel, restaurant, and nightclub.

New York City gay real estate developer Ian Reisner has signed a lease to take over the former Playboy Club space and the adjacent Cachet Boutique Hotel NYC with the intent of transforming it into a gay-friendly hotel, restaurant, and nightclub.

Reisner told The New York Post that he is in talks with a European boutique hotel operator to open the space in September.

Until then, the yet-to-be-named hotel will operate as an Airbnb, with rentals potentially starting as soon as this month. 

Located at 510 W. 42nd Street, the renovated Cachet Boutique Hotel space, which shuttered last October, will feature a 103-room hotel and a 7,500-square-foot restaurant and common area that will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night dining. 

The space that once housed the former Playboy Club is a 14,000-square-foot entertainment complex that will include an “experiential supper club,” a dance space, and a subterranean cellar mixology bar.

The remainder of the property, including a 3,000-square-foot restaurant, is in the process of obtaining a liquor license and is slated to open by the fall of 2024.

Reisner is “in talks” to bring in a well-known brand for the mixology bar, a 750-square-foot space that can hold up to 100 people. He told the Post it will include “banquettes, high-top tables, a bar, and thick marble.”

The project marks a potential revival for Reisner, co-founder of the gay-friendly Out NYC hotel which once occupied the very same space from 2012 to 2016.

Out NYC was boycotted by the LGBTQ community in 2015 after Reisner, a registered Republican, and his former romantic partner and then-business partner, Mati Weiderpass, hosted a dinner and “fireside chat” with Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The decision to host Cruz, a fierce social conservative known for his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, stoked the anger of liberal activists. LGBTQ customers who might have considered patronizing Out NYC worried that their money might be indirectly funneled into the campaign accounts of anti-LGBTQ politicians. 

Reisner apologized and attempted to explain the intent behind the dinner, telling Page Six he felt misunderstood and that the event was not a fundraiser for Cruz but a chance to sit down with a politician who doesn’t endorse LGBTQ rights and appeal to his humanity. 

“I don’t need to sit with Hillary Clinton and talk about gay marriage, they’re with us. We have to work with the difficult ones and show them we don’t have horns,” Reisner said at the time.

The boycott attracted negative attention, leading several LGBTQ groups to cancel events at the venue. Reisner claimed to have received death threats, and he and Weiderpass were effectively blackballed in many LGBTQ circles.

The hotel suffered a loss of revenue, and business continued to be slow even after the boycott began to wane, ultimately prompting Reisner to sell the hotel for $40 million to Merchants Hospitality the following year, as reported by The Advocate.

After Reisner sold the hotel, the space underwent a $3 million renovation, with the nightclub operating as XL. It was later sold and converted to the Playboy Club, a short-lived endeavor that closed a year later. The space then became Nightclub 42 d’Or, which operated until 2022.

Reisner told the New York Post that there were specific reasons why the Cachet Boutique New York Hotel and the Playboy Club failed to gain significant traction.

“Basically they mistimed it by two decades,” Reisner said of how the nightclub space was promoted. “The Playboy Club name was offensive. They opened in 2018, during the #MeToo movement. You can’t put women in a second-class position.

“The hotel failed for a different reason,” he continued. “They chose a terrible name. … If you have cachet or panache, you don’t say you have it, you just do.”

Twelve years later, Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood is filled with new developments, including the 28-acre Hudson Yards real estate development, which features condominiums, performing arts spaces, gyms, retail stores, and restaurants.

Reisner believes the neighborhood’s improved reputation as a hub of commerce and culture, along with the recent influx of newer residents in Hudson Yards, will create a large pool of potential customers that the hotel, restaurant, and nightclub can court.

Ariel Palitz, a global government and hospitality consultant, told the Post that, in theory, opening an LGBTQ-friendly hotel could be a good business model — if it can be executed correctly. 

“In a city filled with hotels, there is room for one more dedicated to a gay clientele and culture that would create a safe and fun place for them — especially at a time when we are seeing some backtracking on gay rights,” Palitz said.

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