Room Mate GraceTimes Square, Manhattan, New York City
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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.
- Laundry service and wake-up calls
- No room service -- every room's hotel directory comes with a stack of delivery menus from area restaurants
- No lifeguard at the pool
- Front-desk clerk sits behind a kiosk and also sells snacks, newspapers, and toiletries.
- No concierge; the kiosk salesperson/hotel receptionist also doubles as de facto concierge, offering suggestions on places to eat and drink, and can also organize babysitting services.
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.
- Petite rooms (190 square feet) are small, even for a NYC hotel room. Some don't even have closets; just a few hangers on a bathroom hook.
- Standard rooms (220 square feet ) come with a single queen bed, two twins (to sleep two), or two bunk beds (to sleep up to four, with individual TVs for each bed -- also called Quad Bunks)
- Deluxe rooms (255 square feet) come with a single king, or a single bunk suspended above a king-size bed (to sleep up to three, also called King Bunks)
- Comfy beds, well above standards in this price range -- 100-percent Egyptian cotton sheets; pillowtop mattress; four down pillows
- Blackout shades shield rooms from the neon lights.
- 23-inch Phillips flat-screen HDTV (small for a normal hotel room, but just fine in a tiny Petite room); DVD player; 53 channels plus free HBO and Showtime
- Free Wi-Fi
- iHome iPod docking clock radio
- Empty mini-fridges (to stock with snacks and drinks from the downstairs kiosk)
- Serviceable, but minimal, bathrooms (especially in the cheaper rooms) -- my Petite just had a toilet on one end, and a rainfall showerhead and drain on the other -- you just draw the curtain when showering
- Two green apples served as part snack, part color compliment to the adorably packaged toiletries with a SweeTart scent -- I felt like I was rubbing Sour Patch Kids into my hair.
More for your money, from a 24-hour pool to free Wi-Fi
- Four-foot-deep, 24-hour pool with club lights and a pricey swim-up bar ($16 lychee martini) -- but it's the only swim-up bar in the city
- Popular Wednesday night gay pool party, Drip; other parties from time to time on Thursday and Friday nights
- Free sauna and steam room
- Small 24-hour gym -- just two Precor exercise bikes and a weight bench, some old weights, two exercise balls and a few mats. Its red-tinted window casts a red glow in the room, so it feels like you're working out in a placenta.
- Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel
- Two Internet stations with Dell computers near the front desk
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
- Breakfast every morning, for a charge
- No on-site restaurant
- No room service; room directories include a stack of delivery menus from solid area restaurants like Virgil's BBQ and John's Pizzeria.
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Things You Should Know About Room Mate Grace
Address125 West 45th Street, New York City, New York 10036, United States
Also Known As
- Hotel Qt New York
- Qt Hotel New York
- Room Mate Grace Hotel
- Deluxe 3 People Room
- Deluxe Room
- Petite Room
- Premium Room
- Standard Room
- Standard Room 2 Beds
- Standard Room 4 People