Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Dylan’s once striking, now somewhat passe design caters to a mix of business travelers, families, and foreign tourists.
A 1903 Beaux-Arts chemists' club-turned-midtown boutique -- "CHEMISTS' CLVB" is still engraved above the entrance -- the 107-room Dylan offers the once sleek (now ho-hum) mood-lit style of design industry mogul Jeffery Beers. (Beers has been lauded for his $1 billion renovation of the Fontainebleau in Miami.) But rather than the fashion industry elite, the crowd here is a bit more down to earth -- middle-aged couples, Italian tourists in "I [heart] NY" T-shirts, and executives stretching their expense accounts on steak and scotch at the Benjamin Steakhouse.
The Dylan opened in 2000 under the ownership of New York real estate magnate Morris Moinian, his first foray into the hospitality industry. He gave it the name Dylan simply because he liked the name -- there's no fun history there. When it opened, the hotel was heavily hyped, enough so that Britney Spears blessed the space with her NYLA restaurant, which failed spectacularly shortly thereafter. In 2007, Moinian sold it to Eurostars, which has a low-profile stateside but maintains a vast portfolio in Spain and other European countries.
But the Dylan is still a stylish hotel at a fair price, and Oyster's editorial team selected it as one of its two "test hotels." This means that we sent about a dozen reporter applicants overnight to cover the hotel as the final phase in our lengthy application process. (The other test hotel was On the Ave, in the Upper West Side.) Based on the quality of these reporters' critiques and the spark in their writing style, only one applicant actually made the cut: Mike. As such, the following review is a composite work based on both his investigation and my own.
In the shadow of Midtown East skyscrapers, the Dylan is convenient to Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, but its 41st Street location lacks charm, with screeching yellow cabs, excess garbage piles, and constant construction.
Located on a somewhat dark, less notable side street, the Dylan is a comparatively short building surrounded by corporate skyscrapers -- a fragment of old New York surrounded by new New York. Nearby, local taverns cater to the happy-hour after-work crowd.
The Dylan is two short blocks from Grand Central Station, which includes the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines as well as Metro North trains that run up through the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. B, D, F, and V subway trains are two blocks west at Bryant Park.
Bryant Park is well known for its summer movie series and winter ice skating rink. There, you'll also find the New York Public Library, a site equally famous for prestigious literary readings (Salman Rushdie was among the guests during my visit) and for the lion statues out front (which came to life in Ghostbusters).
30 to 90 minutes from three airports
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 to 25 percent.
To save some cash, try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14 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 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.
For a 107-room boutique hotel with 11-foot ceilings, rooms feel surprisingly small and buzzing (literally). The biggest assets: iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and free in-room Wi-Fi
In the shadow of neighboring skyscrapers, with dark blue carpets and white walls lit like an alchemist's laboratory, the rooms evoke a permanent haze straight from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel. The chemistry-lab setting comes complete with graduated drinking beakers and a petri dish for the soap. The furniture is modern-ish, and the slightly nicked furnishings lack the luster of their original black lacquer.
The Dylan’s small gym amounts to little more than a few treadmills. The business center is in a state of transition, and the meeting space is on the small side. Free Wi-Fi is definitely the high point.
The location is convenient, cribs and cots are available, and the restaurant has a kids’ menu.
Though the Dylan's vibe seemed fairly staid and not like a particularly fun place for kids, the hotel does offer 14 "double double" rooms with two double beds, and cots can be brought into every room at an additional cost. (Cribs, however, are free.) The Benjamin Steakhouse even offers a kids' menu.
The Dylan was relatively clean, but also clearly worn out by many years of hard use.
On the whole the room was clean, but the scratched furniture, scuffed walls, bubbling ceilings, and a fair bit of mold in the shower grout definitely didn't hold up to the Dylan's once-hyped prestige. The closet doors didn't close easily -- you have to manually move the metal clips, or, as I did, attempt to bang the doors shut a few dozen times, re-squeeze your jackets into the closet, briefly panic about having broken something, and attempt to ignore the problem by moving the doors into their most inconspicuous, near-closed position. The dark carpets were worn, especially in the hallway.
The high-quality Benjamin Steakhouse is on-site and available for room service.
A 1903 chemists' club-turned-107-room-Midtown East boutique, the Dylan offers sound service and striking design, but rooms are small, dimly lit, and a bit worn. Though there's a small fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and close proximity to Grand Central Station, the nearby Bryant Park Hotel is more stylish, and in a prettier locale.