Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Business travelers and tourists enjoy turn-of-the-century charms, modern conveniences, and a notable bar with live jazz that even locals frequent.
First constructed in 1903, and since renovated in 2007, the 126-room Mansfield has all the glamour of a bygone era: a swanky cocktail bar, a plush library, a crackling fire, and even marble chessboards. But the property doesn't forfeit the modern comforts -- free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Back in the day, the hotel claims to have housed such (vaguely) notorious guests as painter John Butler Yeats, father of poet William Butler Yeats, and Maz von Gurach, the man believed to be the inspiration behind The Great Gatsby. These days, it's home to a less artsy crowd of business travelers and European tourists.
The narrow lobby of the Beaux Arts building features a high ceiling with beautiful, sculptural details that demonstrate the period's modern take on European baroque. Outside the lobby bar, which features live jazz, is the library -- aka the Club Room. The Club Room offers a mellower place for guests to hang out. It features a fireplace, warm woods, and large windows looking out onto 44th Street. Suited guests conduct impromptu late-afternoon meetings, or just sip coffee to a soundtrack of Bobby Darin and Tony Bennett late into the evening.
Compared to the crowded sidewalks, neon lights and commercial storefronts Midtown West is known for, the hotel's block is relatively calm and classy. The Mansfield is situated on a stretch of West 44th Street known as Club Row because of its grouping of posh university clubs for Ivy League alumni. There's the Harvard Club, the Penn Club, and the New York Yacht Club, as well as several historic hotels/fabled literary hangouts like the Algonquin and the Iroquois. The street also boasts newer luxury hotels, like the Sofitel, and a French-American restaurant from one of New York's most acclaimed chef's, Daniel Boulud. Between all the hotels and fancy clubs, more flags seem to fly on this fancy block than do at the United Nations.
With subway stations at Grand Central, Bryant Park, and Times Square all within walking distance, the hotel is ideally situated near every major train line -- it's just about the most connected location anywhere in the city.
Nearby are the Museum of Modern Art, the famous 5th Avenue shopping district, and Bryant Park, which in the winter months is home to the city's only free ice-skating rink. Other attractions within short walking distance include Radio City Music Hall, site of the famed Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes (as well as numerous popular concerts througout the year); Rockefeller Center, which houses NBC Studios and the Top of the Rock observation deck; and the Chrysler Building, one of the city's most beautiful skyscrapers.
30-90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, 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.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
All modern -- renovated in 2007 -- and stylish rooms, but many are also especially small and poorly lit.
Basic rooms are 110-square-foot, including the Chambre Petite. That's about half the size of most NYC hotel rooms, which only comes with a full-size bed. In many rooms, there's only one small window just feet from a brick wall, so there's not a great deal of natural light. Upgrading from a Chambre room to a Parlour room means that not only will rooms be larger, they're also be brighter. Despite the Chambre Petite's small confines, it features a serviceable desk with a comfortable, though not ergonomic, desk chair.
Free access to a modern, top-quality 24-hour gym, free Wi-Fi, free espresso, and a free business center with free printing -- they don't nickel-and-dime you here.
The hotel has no adjoining rooms, but there are two-bedroom suites. Cribs and rollaway beds are offered at no extra charge. It's recommended that those using rollaway beds book no smaller than a Parlour Queen, which range in size from 120 to 150 square feet. Even then, things could be quite tight.
The hotel will arrange childcare through The Babysitters' Guild, a childcare service that specializes in caring for children from out of town.
Four-legged guests are welcome at no extra fee.
The Mansfield allows dogs and cats weighing less than 50 pounds. Guests with pets must sign a waiver saying they'll assume responsibility for any damage caused by the animal. Many of the hotel's floors are tile or hardwood, which might make a pet accident easier to clean up than at a more carpeted hotel.
The Bedbug Registry mention recent bedbug issues at the hotel. The front-office manager explained that they are working to prevent any future problems with a weekly service inspecting the hotel for critters. It's important to note that bedbug complaints have skyrocketed in the city in recent years. The Mansfield is far from alone in having such problems.
Smoking rooms are available only on the ninth floor. The one we saw still smelled clean and fresh, thanks to organic cleaning products.
The M Bar serves fancy cocktails, interesting appetizers, and full meals far better than your typical hotel offerings. The truffled eggs from room service aren't bad, either.
The hotel's elegant M Bar serves both dinner and drink, but the emphasis seems to be on drinks and appetizers, many of which are gourmet twists on classics -- e.g., truffle-oil popcorn, mini baked potatoes, and polenta French fries.
The M Bar and room service offer some options more intriguing than your typical eggs/meat side/bread product, though they also have the old standards. Room service is available 24 hours.
With well-done specialty cocktails, tasty appetizers, good lighting, and live jazz, the M Bar is a hotel bar even locals frequent.
Come cocktail hour, the M Bar serves up a number of specialty cocktails for the not-so-low -- but increasingly common in New York -- price of $15. I tried the signature cocktail, Violet's Blueberry Martini, made from Stoli Vanilla, French Parfait Amour, blueberry and pineapple juice, and fresh blueberries. Don't worry, it's not too sweet -- more like alcoholic blueberry yogurt. Simpler top-shelf cocktails, like a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic, can be had for $10.
A 126-room boutique hotel in a historic, Beaux Arts building, the Mansfield has a friendly staff, a popular bar with live jazz, a modern gym, an extremely convenient Midtown West location, and plenty of freebies: free Wi-Fi, free espresso, and free printing in the business center. Unfortunately, the standard rooms are among New York's smallest.
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