Quiet, stylish, and a 15-minute walk from touristy Times Square (and the subway) -- Ink48 (opened September 2009) is on the far western reaches of Hell's Kitchen, an increasingly fashionable but somewhat desolate neighborhood. Its solid service, gorgeous rooftop lounge, free wine receptions, and pet-friendly features make it a great choice, as well as its full-service spa.
Chic new Kimpton hotel in a remote corner of the up-and-coming Hell's Kitchen neighborhood; a serene respite from the tourist bustle of Midtown West
The 222-room Ink48 Hotel, opened in September 2009, is the most recent addition to the Kimpton brand's cluster of fashionable, service-oriented properties in New York, joining (among others) Times Square'sMuse and Gramercy's70 Park Avenue hotels. Like its sisters, the hotel proffers an aura of quirky, design-forward elegance -- in this case, bubble-glass chandeliers, electric blue velveteen couches, red silk upholstered seating alcoves, and the blue-lit "Living Room," all designed by innovative architects David Rockwell and Carlos Zapata.
The big difference in Ink48 -- it is located on the far western reaches of Hell's Kitchen, a newly revitalized area still emerging from its rough-and-tumble past and fast becoming a trendy dining and gallery district. The hotel is one block from the shores of the Hudson River (meaning some rooms have some spectacular views) and half a dozen blocks from the tourist hub of Times Square, a blessing or a curse, depending on your point of view.
By being slightly removed from the usual tourist stomping grounds of midtown Manhattan and Times Square, guests are rewarded with comfortably sized, rakishly appointed rooms, a quiet, sophisticated vibe, above-average service, and great perks, like the free nightly wine receptions. Plus there's the attractive lobby-level Print restaurant, the Press rooftop lounge with sweeping views of the Hudson and midtown Manhattan. In July 2010, the hotel added a full-service eco-minded spa to its list of amenities. But for the price, you can still find a stylish and conveniently located hotel. Compare rates at the Muse, the London NYC (which has even larger rooms), or the W New York.
One block from the Hudson River, in Midtown West's far western (and newly stylish) Hell's Kitchen area
Ink48 is in the Hell's Kitchen part of Midtown West, a neighborhood that is somewhat desolate, but slowly transitioning into a more culturally vibrant area with great nightclubs (including some popular gay clubs), restaurants, and galleries. In many ways, it's what Chelsea was a decade ago. If it's any indication, one of the city's top advertising firms, Ogilve and Mather, just moved into a space across the street from the hotel. But for now, the immediate blocks are still largely characterized by strip joints, car dealerships, and auto body shops. Amble two avenue blocks east to the busy thoroughfare of 9th Avenue for a more populated scene and a diverse array of eating and drinking options.
The C and E subway lines are a 10- to 15-minute walk away at 50th Street and 8th Avenue; the M50 bus goes west on 49th Street and east on 50th Street; the M11 bus goes uptown on 10th Avenue and downtown on 9th Avenue.
The Hudson River and the U.S.S. Intrepid, a historic former WWII aircraft carrier that now houses a museum, are one block west.
Earthy and vibrant, guest rooms feel comfortably luxurious, with high ceilings and ample closet space for storage. The spacious 300-square-foot Deluxe King Room -- marginally bigger than the standard-level King Rooms, which range from 250 to 275 square feet -- features a chartreuse daybed, mud-cloth-upholstered chair and natural fiber lampshades that affect an attractive, tribal-chic aesthetic. Small touches -- black wicker nightstands lit from beneath to provide ambient light, stemless wine glasses that sit in for the usual coffee mugs -- illustrate the hotel's attention to detail. Though the hotel's "story" is "Make Your Mark" -- a rather literal interpretation of the building's former life as a printing house -- the theme is unobtrusive, visible only on the hotel's ink-splotched stationary and on a few placards extolling trivia about sepia ink and font styles. (The hotel was originally called Vu -- a salute to the picturesque views of the city and the Hudson River that all guest rooms afford -- but the concept and name were changed at the last minute, which explains why the towels and bathrobes were still monogrammed with the Vu insignia during my stay.)
Standard rooms have a king-size bed and start at about 250 square feet -- small, but still larger than the typical boutique hotel room in New York.
Great views from all room types; either overlooking the Hudson River or the midtown skyline
Small, white marble and tile bathrooms in most room types; great water pressure (most rooms have standing showers, but shower/tub combos are available by request)
Superior amenities like a rooftop lounge with stunning views of the city, and a full-service spa.
A gorgeous rooftop bar and lounge with sweeping views of Manhattan and the Hudson River is the hotel's most boast-worthy feature. The full-service, "eco-friendly" spa is also a nice way to unwind.
Press Lounge, a rooftop bar with a wrap-around terrace, indoor seating, reflecting pool, and hot tub opened in April 2010. Although the space is open to the public, hotel guests and restaurant patrons get first dibs on entry.
In-room spa services -- like the Antioxidant Vitamin C Facial, $150 for 50 minutes -- can be arranged through the front desk/concierge, but not all standard rooms are large enough to accommodate massage treatments.
Not markedly kid-friendly, but this Kimpton hotel does offer a few great conveniences
Large deluxe rooms and suites, free cribs and strollers, and a free gift at check-in make Ink48 a serviceable enough option for guests traveling with kids. But parents should note the remote location -- it can be a little dark and dicey at night. The hotel does offer a VIK (Very Important Kids) program with a variety of free kid-friendly perks.
VIK (Very Important Kids) program offers free kid perks, including a welcome box of animal crackers, coloring books, and child-size animal print robes
Adjoining rooms available
Rollaway beds, available for a nightly fee, may only be used in the Junior Suite, but not the standard guest rooms
Front desk/concierge staff can provide babysitting referrals and a list of family-friendly activities.
Print restaurant serves farm-to-table cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Room service is available 24 hours a day.
The full-service lobby-level restaurant, Print, serves farm-to-table cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's clear that chef Charles Rodriquez incorporates plenty of farm-fresh meats, seafood, and vegtables in his dishes.
The rooftop bar Press serves small plates
24-hour room service
Some of the city's best barbecue (Daisy May's BBQ USA) and baked goods (Sullivan Street Bakery) can be found within a two block radius of the hotel, but more varied dining options will necessitate a walk two long blocks east to Ninth Avenue's restaurant row, where you can find numerous ethnic foods of varying price points.
"You can bring your parrot if you want," the front desk receptionist assured me when I asked about the extent of Ink48's pet-friendly features. In other words, no charges or restrictions apply to pets of any size, shape or type. Leashes, food and water bowls and doggie beds are available for free via the front desk (a nominal fee applies to food and treats), but quirky bonuses like puppy pedicures and pet room service menus -- proffered by other notably pet-friendly New York hotels -- are absent.
Pet bowls, leashes and pet beds are free; pet food and treats available for purchase at the front desk.
No dog-walking services are provided through the hotel, but the front desk can make referrals to a service in the area.
A list of dog-friendly parks nearby can be located in guest room guidebooks; nearest green space, Hell's Kitchen Park, is located on 47th street between 9th and 10th avenues.
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there 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.