Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Formerly the Gorham Hotel, the Blakely emerged in 2004 after a $12 million renovation from the same owner-managers of the slick Mercer and the snazzy new, Robert DeNiro-fronted Greenwich Hotel. But the new ownership didn't have another splashy celebrity hotel in mind with the Blakely. Inlaid bookshelves with dusty tomes of Charles Dickens, fox-hunting illustrations, and a thick leather couch in a Sherlock Holmesian lobby replace the fashion magazines, modular plastic seating, and hipster bars found at other boutique hotels. Designed to feel like a quaint English library, the Blakely better serves families and low-key couples looking for a comfortable and convenient base to explore the many sights of Midtown West, including high-end 5th Avenue shopping, Broadway shows, and Central Park (all about a 10- to 15-minute walk away).
Somewhat limited; you get more service at the nearby London hotel.
While the Blakely offers several choice freebies -- like free delivery of the New York Times at your doorstep and free incoming faxes at the front desk -- the room service ends early (around 10 or 11 p.m.) and the 24-hour "concierge services" are actually just performed by an omnipresent 24-hour bellman who can offer directions or a city map. If you're seeking a bit more service, consider the nearby London, which offers 24-hour room service, a full-time concierge, and turndown services.
Near ample subway lines, and within walking distance of Central Park, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Though it's technically in Midtown West, the Blakely is closer to Central Park (just four blocks south) than the crowds of Times Square. Expect more business commuters than tourists, unless you're at Radio City Music Hall or Rockefeller Center (both just a few blocks away from the Blakely). Other sights within walking distance include the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall, and Saint Patrick's Cathedral. The famed luxury shopping stretch of 5th Avenue is just one-and-one-half blocks to the east.
The downside is that many of the cheap dining spots here close after working hours. But the Blakely is just a 10-minute walk from the Time Warner Center, which contains some of the city's top restaurants like Thomas Keller's Per Se and Masayoshi Takayama's Masa as well as popular shops like a Borders book store and the J. Crew.
Subway lines, the N, R, Q, W, F, E, B, and D, are all within two blocks of the Blakely. These lines can take you swiftly to downtown Manhattan, the Upper West Side, or up and across to Midtown East. Taxis are easy to find just outside the Blakely's entrance.
The Blakely's large standard rooms -- guest rooms start at 310 square feet, which is big for NYC, but about average for any other city in the U.S. -- come with a convenient kitchenette with a microwave and extra sink, free Wi-Fi, a 32-inch LG flat-screen TV with free HBO and a DVD player, a beautiful marble bath, a top-quality Keurig coffeemaker, a well-stocked minibar, and a comfortable bed with a pillow-top mattresses and 250-threadcount Egyptian cotton linens. In general, the Blakely's rooms are a solid step-up from the typical boutique hotel room.
One notable advantage over many other boutique hotels is the wall-to-wall marble bathroom. In the base-level room, the bathroom is a bit on the small side -- as is typical in New York -- but its handsome wooden-base sink, Frette robes, and bergamot-scented toiletries from Penhaligon's (from London). The shower has decent water pressure, but unlike at any of the W hotels, the rainfall showerhead is only available in the suites. (Otherwise, the suites look about the same, and only offer a bit more space, a Jacuzzi tub, and a pullout sofa or daybed.)
But it's in the small details -- like the unattractive, scratch-resistant covering on the cherry wood furniture and the fairly ugly, patchwork-quilt-print chair that looks yanked out of a Marriott hotel -- that the Blakely falls a bit short of competing hotels like the London (bigger, sleeker rooms) or the newer 6 Columbus (better location, but smaller rooms).
The 24-hour fitness center isn't huge, but it has all the essential equipment -- two True Fitness treadmills, an elliptical, two bikes, some weights, and a multiuse strength training machine. Plus, its windows let in plenty of natural light and the attached bathroom comes with a rainfall shower -- a cut above the usual, windowless dungeon of a gym at many other New York hotels.
Wi-Fi is free in all the rooms and common areas here. If you don't have a laptop, you can also use the computer and printer in the lobby for free, 24/7. But because there's only one computer in the hotel, you might have a wait a little while to use it.
Abboccato, the Italian restaurant next door to the Blakely, offers a free breakfast buffet of bagels, Danishes, some basic fruit salad, and juices for guests of the Blakely. It's worth noting that while the buffet is free, Abboccato includes a slip of paper on every table asking guests tip their host $2 for serving coffee and clearing the tables.
Similar to the Kimberly Hotel or the London, the Blakely's rooms are bigger than most other New York boutique hotel rooms. Standard rooms (called "Deluxe" rooms) are large enough for a crib, but rollaways are not available. Families will either have to book two rooms, of they can upgrade to a Studio Suite with a pullout sleeper sofa or a One-Bedroom Suite, which has a separate living room and an extra long daybed.
The neighboring restaurant, Abboccato, offers free breakfasts but it's not the cheapest dining option for families: Dinner entrees run into the high $20s to low $30s; pasta dishes, the low $20s.
Clean as can be, with no traces of dust or mildew.
Served at the attached Italian restaurant, Abboccato, the hotel offers a free continental breakfast of bagels, toast, muffins, Danishes, cereals, a ho-hum bowl of fruit salad, and juice from concentrate. It's good -- and the price is right -- but it's nothing extraordinary. (I had a hard time envisioning anyone shelling out the $16 it costs nonguests to eat there). Comparatively, the nearby Room Mate Grace hotel offers a much better spread of meat and cheese, fresh berries, and cappuccino.
But it's hard to judge Abboccato on a free breakfast. This Michelin-star restaurant scores enthusiastic reviews from New York magazine for its creative dishes and fresh seafood. It's not the cheapest spot in Midtown -- dinner entrees run from the high $20s to low $30s -- but the food is generally worth it.
Room service includes an abbreviated version of the Abboccato menu (and ends when the restaurant closes, about 10 p.m.). My $23 tagliatelle consisted of delicate, wafer-thin fresh pasta noodles topped with a hearty, not overly saucy meat ragu and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The humongous side order of broccoli rabe came with just a delicate sprinkling of olive oil and garlic -- it wasn't soaked in it as is often the case. Unfortunately, the room service menu doesn't include Abboccato's extensive $8 to $10 cichetti menu (small snacks or mini sandwiches, like the recommended crudo and seafood misti).
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or La Guardia is typically easiest and the least time consuming. From JFK, it's a flat-rate $45 (one-hour) taxi to anywhere in Manhattan. From La Guardia, it's about a $40 (30-minute) metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls) and can take over one-and-a-half hours. Don't forget to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
To save some cash, group shuttles 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. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7 per person, but travel times can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs. For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Styled like an old British social club, the quaint, 118-room Blakely boutique offers free continental breakfasts, a quality fitness center, a great Midtown West location near Central Park, and big rooms with microwaves, Frette robes and free Wi-Fi. Overall, a solid hotel.
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