Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Designed by powerhouse decorating duo Stephen Alesch and Robin Stadnefer of Roman and Williams, the Royalton achieves the kind of sultry mystique that so many boutique hotels aspire to but don't quite achieve. The expansive, mood-lit lobby, which in the evenings doubles as a cocktail lounge for 30-something professionals, runs long and narrow past the small lobby bar and lounge Bar 44 and the recessed front desk. Beyond the elevators lies the swanky Forty Four restaurant. The paneled or carved walls and abacus-like metal screen create a sultry and sophisticated atmosphere complemented by music selections that range from cool jazz in the daytime to The Smiths and Radiohead at night.
The Royalton is run by Morgans Hotel group. Cofounded by Studio 54 creator Ian Schrager -- who has since left -- the chain is still known for high-end, design-driven hotels with solid service, and the Royalton fits that reputation precisely.
Diligent doormen and lightning-fast service earn the Royalton high marks.
Fast, professional, slightly formal service is the rule. Several doormen are posted at the doorway, dashing out to grab a guests' bags and ever-ready to run through the rain to flag a taxi. Check-in was virtually instantaneous. Room service was extraordinarily fast -- 16 minutes for my yogurt parfait. And housekeeping met a request for extra towels in three minutes (and dashed away so quickly I almost didn't have time to extend a tip).
A relatively calm block in otherwise busy Midtown West, the Royalton sits near the Times Square theater district and Bryant Park. Nightlife in the area isn't great, but there are plenty of eateries nearby.
Although the neon-lit, 24-hour pedestrian madness of Times Square is just five minutes on foot from the Royalton, the street scene outside the entrance is relatively calm. The block is home to the Harvard, Yale, Penn, and New York Yacht clubs, plus several other luxury hotels, including the Algonquin, Sofitel, City Club, and Iroquois.
Nearby are the Museum of Modern Art, the famous Fifth Avenue luxury shopping corridor, and Bryant Park, which in the winter months is home to the city's only free ice-skating rink. Other popular attractions within easy walking distance include Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the Chrysler Building.
The fitness center on the fourth floor has well-maintained equipment, but the dark, small space has just one window and it faces a cinderblock wall. The six cardio machines -- two ellipticals, a recumbent bike, and three treadmills -- each has a personal flat-screen TV. A set of free weights, a pulldown machine, water, and apples round out the offerings.
Similarly, the business center next door is functional but uninspiring: two desktop computers, a photocopier-fax machine, and an easy chair sit in the gray, square room. Internet service, either at the business center or through in-room Wi-Fi, is charged at a 24 hour rate.
No spa on the property, but the concierge can arrange in-room treatments.
Not hostile to children, but not really a kid-friendly place.
The hotel provides cribs for a fee, and the concierge will arrange babysitting services. But there's really nothing on the property to amuse children, and the lobby/lounge is a place for mellow adult chitchat, not energetic ragamuffins.
A hotel that takes its looks very seriously, the Royalton puts in the requisite beautification work. On my way out, I saw a maintenance worker retouching the paint on one of the lobby's pillars, even though it hadn't been noticeably tarnished.
A Times Square-area luxury boutique with stunning rooms and lobby/lounge, the Royalton is arguably worth the price for its contemporary, high-concept design alone. Service is very solid, but beds are just OK and the 24-hour gym and business center are merely serviceable.