Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The same folks behind a wave of mid-range boutique hotels in South Beach (the Sagamore, the Strand, the Wave) bring their brand of Miami chic to Times Square with Hotel Mela. The 228-room hotel is the small, lower-priced alternative to the Times Square mega-hotels like the 863-room Westin or the 1,900-room Marriott Marquis.
It doesn't have a bar (though the on-site restaurant Saju does) like the nearby W Times Square or Dream hotels, the Mela still tries to create a fun, nightclub-like atmosphere. The lobby is lit with hot pink lights, and the with yellow. The staff are pretty casual and down to earth, unlike at the W Times Square, where the doormen treat the lobby like an exclusive lounge.
The hotel management claims that the aesthetic here centers more around "Italian contemporary sophistication" -- though the lobby pillows from New York designer Jonathan Adler, needlepointed with the seven deadly sins and Liza Minnelli's mug, understandably stand out in my memory more than anything else and don't seem particularly Italian. The hotel does seem to have much appeal to Italian tourists, however -- and Spanish tourists, and British tourists. "Mela," after all, means apple in Italian.
Around the corner from Times Square, but not so close as to be woken up by the lights or traffic.
Located on the (relatively) quiet 44th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, Hotel Mela is close to the action but not so close that guests can't get a decent night's rest. The hotel actually feels like a passageway between tourist-focused Times Square and the businessman's Midtown West. At the Broadway end of the block, you'll find the flashing lights of the multilevel Virgil's BBQ and the gigantic Times Square Toys R Us; at the opposite end, on Sixth Avenue, are the sedately lit offices of the Wall Street Journal.
More subway lines converge here than anywhere else in the city, all of them no more than two blocks away. The B, D, F, and M lines are at 42nd Street-Bryant Park, while the 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, and R lines are at Times Square-42nd Street.
30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses 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. Public transit is also available 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 stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Rooms at Hotel Mela are stylishly outfited, but on the small side (most only fit two people). Continuing the lighthearted mod look of the lobby, the rooms come with a 3-D card and a pair of 3-D glasses waiting on the bed. (The card informs that the minibar is left unlocked with the key outside. Cute.)
All rooms include:
A 26-inch LCD TV is above the minibar. Pay-per-view comes in all the rooms, with a variety of new releases available at additional cost. All rooms also have free Wi-Fi -- the connection was excellent -- and an iPod-compatible stereo.
Bathroom are a decent size, but there were no cabinets and not much space for perching toiletries, short of a narrow shelf attached below the sink mirror. Still, the H20 toiletries were a nice addition, particularly the sea-salt body scrub. Some standard Superiors do come with bathtubs -- guests just need to request one upon booking. (The same goes for Deluxes and Executives -- some have just showers, some have bathtubs with showers.)
Pets are allowed, and a deposit is required.
Pets are allowed at Hotel Mela, but a deposit is required.
Near toy stores, musicals, Rockefeller Center, and family-friendly restaurants -- the Mela's Times Square location is great for families. But rooms are pretty small, so you'll need to book a larger suite.
In the standard Superior Room, fitting a rollaway (nightly fee) is a tight squeeze. Families need to book a suite or at least the Executive room with double beds to get a little breathing room. Cribs are free.
Baby-sitting services can be booked through the concierge, but the hotel will need 24 hours advance notice. The concierge can also help with finding great kids' activities in the area or booking tickets to a Broadway musical.
Times Square has become pretty kid-centric over the years, and there's no shortage of activities here. The Times Square Toys R Us on the corner houses a gigantic Ferris wheel for kids to ride; after that, they can gawk at the 4,000-square-foot Barbie dollhouse. Same-day tickets to kid-friendly musicals can be found at the TKTS discount-ticket booth around the corner. Radio City Music Hall, where the Rockettes and numerous marquee acts perform each year, is about three blocks away, on 50th Street and Sixth Avenue. Rockefeller Center, home to the famous gigantic Christmas tree and ice skating rink during the holiday season, is at 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, only six blocks away.
Family-friendly restaurants are abundant -- just make sure to prepare for some ramped-up tourist prices.
For every overhyped New York restaurant, there's another that doesn't get the credit it deserves: Mela's hotel restaurant, Saju Bistro, is an example of the latter. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There are loads of other options within easy walking distance, randing from meals under $10 to fine dining.
In the heart of Times Square but just outside most of the noise, the 228-room Mela boutique brings a little South Beach style to Manhattan. Free Wi-Fi, great beds, and a high-quality fitness center make the Mela an excellent alternative to the Marriott Marquis or Westin Times Square.