Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Anti-Starbucks

It had the usual accoutrements you find in any coffee outpost these days, be it Seattle's Best, Peet's or a dozen others. There are custom made drinks hot and cold, as well as a small selection of nibbles and slightly more substantial snacks. There are seats and tables in a variety of styles, as well as outlets to charge your precious electronic assistants. And there are other fellow travelers working away before, between and after appointments, redefining a modern version of Willy Loman in the gig economy. 

But the differences between the aforementioned establishments and their brethren with the place I was at were as profound at the similarities. Sure, you could order a latte at both. However, rather than tell a barista your choice and then queue up as they yelled out your order, in this place you tapped your selection in on an iPad, and several minutes later it emerged silently on a conveyor belt like at a Kaiten sushi restaurant. Yes, both have a variety of places to perch, but this one includes not only dark wood bars and stools, but hammocks and moon chairs. And while its' not uncommon for a patron at the first to doze off in spite of the caffeine in the air, the second not only actively encourages it but provides a separate floor with beds, headphones and a starry sky. 

You might call it the Anti-Starbucks. They call themselves Nap York.  

Occupying a four-story building at the busy corner of Seventh Avenue and 36th Street, the first thing that catches your eye is the color. No bright tone or flashing signs, it's dark, a veritable back hole on the streets of Manhattan, seeming to suck light and sound into it, or more correctly, to shield you from that hubbub. An emoticon looking sign outside admonishes you to keep your voices low and limit conversation, as if you're about to enter a terminal ward at Bellevue. Open the door, however, and vibe is not funereal but restful. The entry level cafĂ© has a wall of live green plants backing the aforementioned conveyor belt that delivers your drinks and snacks. Large monitors display pics of people relaxing, zen-like photos and menu items. And the sound? Well, there is none, save the whispered conversations of the staff and patrons using the place. 

But if the first level is a nice contrast to the usual vibe, the second is positively in another world. The "recharge floor" has napping pods in various configurations. Each is sound proofed and has an Airweave mattress and pillow, the "newest innovation in sleep surface technology." A blackout curtain, fresh linens and dimable stars overhead complete the decorations. Pay ten buck for 30 minutes, slip your shoes under the bed, set your phone to silent and stare at the inside of your eyeballs to rest and get ready for the rest of your day. 

Other floors have a similar feel, just with different furnishings. There are hammocks and moon chairs, as well as desks with reclining chairs where you can put your feet up and noodle on your novel in peace. And if you need help with relaxing, an on-site yoga and meditation studio helps you find that inner peace for twenty bucks or less per om. You can even carry the feeling into the real world via their shuttle service to local airports, riding of course in that most silent of vehicles, a Tesla. 

Far from bearing the old stigma as the sign of a slacker, napping has become the mark of a mover. Just like a power workout in the middle of the day, you recognize when your peak capabilities are at an ebb, and take a snooze to recharge so you can once again be a master of the universe. David Lloyd Clubs, a gym chain in the U.K., is actually combining both techniques by introducing Napercise, a hour-long class featuring a 45-minute nap with a little stretching afterward. On these shores companies like Google and WeWork have nap rooms on the premises. Even the New York City Police Department, recognizing that long hours and intense situation means cops can get run down, turned to Nap York for help creating a nap pod for one of its detective squads. Put another way, it seems as if napping has become the new black.


Marc Wollin of Bedford loves to take naps. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.