Rooms start at 300 square feet (compared to N.Y.C. average of ~200)
Across the street from 5 subway lines; 2 blocks from all others
Cavernous CellarBar has stunning design, and free happy hour for guests
Koi restaurant (famed in LA), serves highly rated sushi
Across the street from beautiful Bryant Park
Exceptional, in-the-know concierge
Limited nightlife nearby
Few neighborhood restaurants and amenities open at night/on weekends
Decidedly not kid-friendly (evidenced by sex toys in the rooms)
One of New York's sexiest boutiques, conveniently sandwiched between Grand Central and Times Square, the Bryant Park Hotel caters to fashion and entertainment types and discerning Europeans. The combination of friendly, personalized service, a great bar and restaurant, and cool, comfortable rooms -- all within a 128-room art deco building -- makes it a distinctive pleasure.
Hip guests appreciate the red-leather walls, techno music, and approximity to the Garment District. This is not a place for kids.
Between the black-clad doormen wearing earpieces, the padded red-leather walls and red-lacquer counters, and the soft techno music playing at all times, it's clear from the start that the Bryant Park Hotel is meant to be a hip place. The hotel's proximity to both the Garment District and the Condé Nast building makes it a popular choice for fashion industry jet-setters -- but not families. Its sexy, intimate feel within an iconic art deco building (it feels like Batman could swoop down at any second) makes the Bryant Park Hotel one of the most distinctive hotels in New York.
Friendly, very prompt staff with no attitude. The concierge is knowledgeable and well-connected.
On the whole, service here is especially prompt. The concierge (known as an "Entertainment Director" in Bryant Park Hotel lingo) was super-friendly. When I asked about a spa, he recommended a nearby nail salon for cheap mani-pedis, knowing exactly when it opened and closed. He recommended a great place for breakfast, told me about the best bagels in the neighborhood, and was even able to specify that none were kosher. When I asked about a good club for dancing, he suggested a new club in Chelsea, and gave two concierge cards that would allow me to cut the line. "It's open till 6 a.m., so you can party all night."
The hotel offers a nightly turn-down service, which includes a gourmet valerian-and-orange chocolate left on each pillow.
Convenient location in Midtown near Bryant Park and seven subway lines.
The hotel is located in the center of Midtown at 40 W. 40th St., on the southeastern edge of Bryant Park. Bryant Park is home to the New York Public Library, and hosts a free outdoor movie series in the summer, as well as an outdoor ice-skating rink in the winter. The B, D, F, M, and 7 subway lines all stop right at the park, and nearly every other subway line in the city can be found within a few blocks in either direction on 42nd Street.
Superior rooms come with a white (walls), black (trim), and eggplant (carpet and leather headboard) color motif, and provide a decent amount of space (300 square feet, compared with most rooms in nearby Times Square that are lucky to be 200!). I also had the opportunity to tour a deluxe guest room, which is 350 square feet, a junior suite (425 square feet), and the two top-of-the-line, 700 square feet Raymond Hood suites, which face north and south with terraces and fantastic views of Bryant Park and the Empire State Building, respectively.
The rooms are very clean and modern, and have completely bare walls, save for the 32-inch high-def LG flat-screen TV. Other electronics include a Bose wave radio and a Klipsch iPod dock with fantastic sound (though it only plugged into my iPhone and therefore didn't charge it).
Wi-Fi comes in every room, and it's free, but in my room, the signal repeatedly cut in and out. Alternatively, there’s a hard-wired high-speed Internet connection available.
In the south-facing rooms on the lower floors, there’s not much of a view, just a design studio across the way and a brick wall. With my window open I heard the constant drone of an HVAC in an apartment below. In the summertime this would definitely be a drag for anyone wanting fresh air.
Each room comes with a stylish platform bed, backed by a padded leather headboard and topped with an eggplant-colored decorative roll pillow. The sheets and thin, quilted down comforter felt high-quality, and everything was extremely clean.
Bathrooms are outfitted in a combination of white and tan marble, with a rectangular minimalist sink, a large tub and a wonderful rain showerhead. I had read that the hotel offers toiletries from the English luxury brand Molton Brown, but my heart sank when I realized that the lip balm and full-size body scrub on the shelf above the toilet were not for my use but were actually for sale. That said, the mini-bottles of relaxing shower gel, coco de mer body lotion, and lili-pili shampoo and conditioner all smelled heavenly, and I was happy to have them.
There’s a fairly extensive mini-bar, and a 24-hour room-service menu available from Koi, but perhaps the most notable feature is the pleasure chest, which has sex toys for women, men, and couples.
The fitness center is on the fifth floor of the hotel. It’s a bit on the small side, but it's functional, with older treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, and plenty of free weights. There is no spa on site, though the concierge is happy to arrange for treatments at guests' convenience.
The hotel is very small, but there’s a screening room in the basement that is rented out for special events. For example, Allure magazine screened a Julia Roberts movie to celebrate her appearance on one of their covers.
Families are not the target demographic, with a hip scene and sex toys in every room.
The hotel rarely gets children, and doesn't really go out of its way to cater to them (for instance, cribs are not available in rooms). Given the hip scene in both Koi and Cellar Bar, the minimalist red leather décor, and the sex toys in every room, the hotel certainly isn’t ideal for families.
The hotel has just one restaurant, Koi, and one bar, Cellar Bar, but both are very popular in their own right. High-end sushi restaurant Koi, which opened in 2005, is the New York outpost of the original L.A. celebrity magnet. While some critics find it to be a bit over-hyped, what's undeniable is that the restaurant, just off the hotel's small lobby, is stunningly designed and eardrum-crushingly loud at night.
Guests drink free from 5-6 p.m. on weeknights at the popular, hip Cellar Bar.
The hotel was running a fantastic happy hour special during my stay (and will continue to run it for the foreseeable future): Guests drink free from 5-6 p.m. on weeknights. Naturally I ventured down to investigate the bar, which is also a very popular after-work hangout for fashion and media types who work in the area.
I arrived at 5:45 p.m. and couldn't find a place to sit. The lighting was extremely dim, house music throbbed from a DJ deck in the middle of the room, and cocktail waitresses and female bartenders were clad in tight black leather bustiers and short black skirts.
The ceilings are arched in a gothic pattern, and combined with the blood-red backdrop behind the bar, it all feels like a vampire cave. But then again, when you’re able to drink everything but "ultra-premium" liquor for free, it’s hard to complain.
After the happy hour ended, my friends and I were able to find a small table in the very back corner. A cocktail waitress did a pretty good job keeping tabs on our party so we never had to push our way up to the bar again.
Depending on which airport guests choose, a taxi ride to the Palace can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Guests can save money by taking an airport shuttle.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time-consuming. From JFK, it's a (one-hour) $45 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a (30-minute) $40 metered cab ride to Midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls), and can take more than 90 minutes. Don't forget to tip your driver 15-25 percent.
To save some cash, try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14/person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs. For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
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