When the boutique hotel 50 Bowery opened in lower Manhattan, it had a lot of legacy riding on its shoulders. After all, it site between bustling Canal Street and the Manhattan Bridge has served as a gambling den, a vaudeville theatre, and taverns over three centuries.

The 229-room property translated such colourful history into a sexy/cheeky décor of dim, zigzagging hallways, burnished brass accents, and bold art by Beijing-based graffitist Dake Wong. Even the most minute detail is a tactile experience, from the satisfyingly matte room key bearing a map of the hotel’s Chinatown environs to the distressed oak surfaces. Vintage black and white photographs of Chinatown adds a sense of heritage, while by the second floor gallery curated by the nearby Museum of Chinese in America displays centuries-old medicinal vials and flasks excavated on site.

The boutique hotel’s main drawing card, however, may be the floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the guest rooms with natural light. Reserve a suite or room above the ninth floor, which will treat you to unbeatable panoramas of Manhattan’s iconic skyline. And leave some time for a bite at Rice & Gold, a downtown-cool joint by Dale Talde serving gussied-up dim sum.