Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Pulling in families and deal-seekers with quad bunk beds and great continental breakfasts, this stylish 139-room Spanish boutique (former Hotel QT) is also known for its Wednesday night gay pool party.
Formerly Andre Balazs' Hotel QT, the 139-room Room Mate Grace boutique hotel picks up where the previous inhabitant left off: welcoming budget-minded tourists who want affordable rooms near Times Square and a fun party atmosphere where they can mingle at the 24-hour pool and swim-up bar. Add in an excellent European-style continental breakfast that runs daily and you'd be hard-pressed to get this much from a hotel elsewhere in Times Square, at this low a price.
Reminiscent of a "stylish European hostel" -- according to the New York Times -- the hotel offers a front desk kiosk that doubles as reception desk and gift shop, selling snacks, magazines, and liquor. The smallish rooms feature showers that are just separated from the toilet by a single screen or curtain, and occasionally curtains in lieu of full closet doors. These are not the most luxurious rooms you'll find in Manhattan, but the cute modish decor helps -- as do the big platform beds with Egyptian cotton linens, and the free HBO, Showtime, and Wi-Fi.
The current owners, the Madrid-based Room Mate hotel group, left much of the old Hotel QT's one-of-a-kind design in place when it took over -- and indeed, why would you mess with something as fantastic as a pool in the lobby with Greek amphitheater-style seating and a swim-up bar. Renovations were limited to more minor changes like pool furniture and unabashedly bold wallpaper. Hotel QT's somber gray hallways are now transformed into alternating floors of zebra stripes, Jonathan Adler gold-and-orange prints, and gold-flecked disco ball subtlety.
Of course, the hotel's name needs some explaining. Every Room Mate hotel carries the name of an imaginary person -- in this case, "Grace." Grace, the blond international concert performer shown on the hotel's website, is supposed to embody a New York friend that welcomes you to stay at her place. But Grace should really have been a glam drag queen or a fit dude who can do justice to a Speedo because the Room Mate Grace's big event every week is Drip, a packed gay pool party held every Wednesday night at the lobby pool, where a sea of drag queens and buff gay guys squeeze into a four-foot-deep pool with oversize rubber duckies -- security guards need to man the sauna and steam room. It's one of the best hotel parties in New York -- but if you're looking for a little peace and quiet, avoid this place on Wednesday, or at least request a room on the 4th floor or higher.
Bare bones -- what you'd expect for the low price.
Room Mate Grace, much like a European hostel, is a self-service affair.
Located on West 45th Street, Room Mate Grace is just a half-block away from the heart of Times Square, but it's not so close that guests can't get a decent night's rest. Though once seedy, Times Square was reborn in the mid-'90s as a commercialized tourist haven, lit by 24-hour flashing billboards and theme restaurants like ESPN Zone and Bubba Gump Shrimp. Today, visitors walking the streets are more likely to be accosted by a comedy-club promoter, a rickshaw bicycle operator, or a caricature artist than a mugger. (It also helps that there's a huge police station smack in the center of Times Square.) It's crowded, but there's something unquestionably exhilarating -- and convenient -- about staying in the neon-lit heart of the city. Plus, the mayor recently decided to close off much of Broadway to traffic, making it even more pedestrian-friendly.
Small, but with comfy beds and free HBO and Wi-Fi
While the standard "Petite" room is tiny, the toiletries are cloyingly scented, and the bathrooms are eerily reminiscent of a youth hostel, the space-maximizing rooms with bunk beds -- similar to those at the style-on-a-budget Pod Hotel -- are a great way for families or groups to save some cash.
More for your money, from a 24-hour pool to free Wi-Fi
Pets allowed, but a weight limit and deposit apply
Pets are allowed, but there is a weight limit and one-time deposit.
Overall, very clean hotel.
The pool looked murky, but not so bad that people wouldn't swim in it; given the swim-up bar, plenty of drinks get spilled in there.
No restaurant, but the European-style continental breakfast buffet is one of the best in the city
For the price, this colorful 139-room Times Square boutique hotel offers more: great beds; free Wi-Fi; excellent healthy breakfasts; free access to sauna, steam room, gym; great rates on four-person rooms; and a small indoor lobby pool and swim-up bar that hosts a popular gay pool party every Wednesday.
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