The Dream is a quintessentially stylish New York hotel, with small rooms, noisy streets outside, and two popular bars attached. Rooms aren't overly fancy, but they nail important features like comfy beds, flat-screen TVs, and Bose stereos. The location -- four blocks from Central Park -- adds additional appeal to a hotel that usually offers good value for the money.
Dream is as whimsical and fluffy clouds-esque as you can get in Midtown Manhattan; the lobby is like a cross between the Cheesecake Factory and a Buddhist temple, in a good way.
I asked a manager to describe Dream's mission and vibe. She sort of shrugged her shoulders and looked around the lobby, which features a two-story fish tank, an enormous statue, and a model ship hanging over the front desk. "It's definitely pretty whimsical," she finally said.
The Dream’s stunning beaux arts building dates to 1895, and it definitely stands out amid Midtown’s office towers. On each floor the elevator opens to an illuminated mural (mine had a somewhat creepy seagull montage), and the hallway carpet creates the optical illusion of an elevated curvature. Beds and desks are backlit with blue lights, and beds are covered in plush (but hypoallergenic!) feather beds.
With both the Hearst Magazine building and Universal Music Group across the street, Dream attracts a lot of fashion and entertainment types. Management brags that Kanye West, Madonna and Beyoncé have all stayed there, though the hotel gets a healthy mix of non-celebrity leisure and business travelers.
The immediate area around the hotel is mainly tall office buildings, though there are also plenty of restaurants, drug stores, ATMs and other convenient amenities. The hotel is also three blocks from some of the best high-end shopping along Madison and Fifth Avenues.
5-minute walk to Central Park
5-minute walk to Columbus Circle
7-minute walk to the Museum of Modern Art
11-minute subway ride to Penn Station
9-minute walk to Times Square
2-minute walk to Carnegie Hall
7-minute subway ride or 12-minute walk to Rockefeller Center
12-minute subway ride or 11-minute walk to Lincoln Center
8-minute subway ride to the Museum of Natural History
11-minute subway ride the Empire State Building
23-minute subway ride to The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, 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 $50 (plus tolls) and can take more than 90 minutes. Don't forget to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
To save some cash, try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $15 per 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 $7.5 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involves a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs.
Ranging from 150 to 285 square feet, rooms are on the snug side and a little plain, but fun and comfortable.
The "Medium-size" (that’s Dream lingo), 185-square-foot room actually felt more on the small side. It had a single window in the middle of the wall, and the narrow, 19.5-inch closet and equally narrow bathroom door each felt half-size. I could only fit my small suitcase in the closet and had very little room for anything else.
Small rooms and a heavy bar scene give us pause, but the location is unbeatably close to lots of sights.
Kids might enjoy Dream's funky decor and design elements, but the overall vibe is on the adult side, particularly given the small rooms and the plethora of pictures of naked women. Like most New York boutiques, the hotel definitely doesn't go out of its way to cater to children.