Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Iroquois has only 114 rooms, so it's pretty small compared to the the majority of towering hotels in Midtown West. It generally maintains a comfortable hubbub without feeling crowded. During my stay I saw moneyed, middle-aged European tourists and several upscale -- though not insanely wealthy -- Americans in town for business. Like most hotels in this part of Midtown West, Mondays through Fridays are the busiest days.
It's definitely not a hotel for partyers -- the traditional decor and classy restaurant foster guests who might feel quietly judgmental of boisterousness.
All the high-end basics -- nightly turndowns, concierge services, and 24-hour room service -- but there isn't always a doorman or porter on hand to help with bags or hail cabs.
Unlike most similarly priced New York hotels, the Iroquois doesn't have a doorman waiting at the entrance to help hail cabs and open doors, nor are there porters standing by to take guests' bags to their rooms. (I couldn't find someone to help with my bags at checkout, either.) But all the other services customary at upscale hotels are there: nightly turndowns, free morning coffee, 24-hour room service, and a concierge on staff.
For check-in, the front desk was prompt -- and the attendant even gave me a free upgrade without my asking (and without knowing I was reviewing the hotel). He even called shortly after I arrived in my room to ensure everything was to my satisfaction. Room service was swift -- my breakfast was at my door in only 10 minutes.
Compared to the crowded sidewalks, neon lights, and commercial storefronts that Midtown West is known for, the hotel's block is relatively calm and classy. The Iroquois 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. Sandwiched between the Algonquin, whose restaurant was instrumental in reviving New York burlesque, and the Sofitel, a hotel that consistently tops the "Best Of" lists, the humble Iroquois occupies an awkward position between New York greats (kind of like Owen Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums). 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.
Just a short walk away 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, the site of the famed Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes (as well as numerous popular concerts throughout 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.
At 114 rooms, the Iroquois is a small hotel, and most of its rooms are either Superior or Classic rooms. Both are 250 square feet and are equipped with one queen-size bed, which is a tad larger than most New York boutique hotel rooms and a huge jump up from the 111-square-foot rooms at the nearby Mansfield hotel. (Really, there's no difference between the Superior and Classic rooms, so I wonder why the hotel doesn't just pick one name for both room types.)
The 270- to 290-square-foot Deluxe room -- the room I stayed in thanks to a free upgrade when I checked in -- fits either one king or one queen-size bed. For families, the hotel recommends either the 650-square-foot one-bedroom suite (with a king bed and a queen sofa bed) or the 950-square-foot two-bedroom suite (with a king bed in each bedroom and one queen sofa bed).
The sedate -- if dated -- furnishings give the rooms an old-boys'-club vibe, but they're still hooked up with modern features, like a 32-inch LG flat-screen TV, an iPod dock, and a Zenith DVD player, all of which worked wonderfully without my having to bang around at the controls. The hotel also has complimentary DVD rentals. All rooms come with free Wi-Fi.
But most rooms are dark, perhaps because they look out onto an airshaft and a cruddy fire escape. I even had to close the blinds to keep the neighbors from looking in.
The hotel's biggest asset is its library. Right by the entrance, it has huge, blown-glass windows looking out onto 44th Street and a collection of vintage books. There's also a complimentary computer and printer if the free Wi-Fi (available throughout the hotel) doesn't cut it. Besides books, the hotel also offers complimentary DVD rentals (which you can watch from your in-room DVD player).
The 24-hour gym isn't very big, but it has two workout stations, a rack of free weights, a treadmill, two bikes, and a balance ball. It's more than enough room -- and equipment -- for one person, but two would be pushing it, and three would definitely feel like a crowd.
The gym also includes a decent-size sauna, something rarely seen at most New York hotels. Just be sure to call ahead to the front desk and request that someone turn it on.
The hotel doesn't offer much for families -- no video games, toys, or any kid-friendly features -- and it barely offers a place for families to sleep. Cribs are free, but there are no rollaway beds available. Additionally, Superior and Classic rooms are too small to comfortably fit a crib. A Deluxe may be a better bet, though the additional 20 square feet might not give that much breathing space. For families, the Iroquois also offers a "Family" room, although you won't see it on the website. It's a combination of a Deluxe room with a king bed and a Classic room with two full-size beds. (The only time a Classic has two full-size beds is in this combination.) All in all, the room is about 530 square feet, including a mini-hallway between the rooms with a door to the floor's main hallway that can be locked.
Room service offers plausibly child-friendly dishes -- like various cereals and juices -- but the French cuisine at Triomphe might be a bit too sophisticated and upmarket for young children. Fortunately, the Iroquois is surrounded by various dining alternatives.
Clean, but with signs of wear.
We didn't see any signs of dirt anywhere, but most of the furniture seemed lightly worn. In the case of the leather sofas, the wear and tear gave them character, but the textile upholstery was fraying on a couple of the chairs.
Pricey but excellent French cuisine, available from room service 24 hours.
The hotel's French restaurant, Triomphe, is a cozy space with a bar up front and a room with around 10 tables at the back, attracting well-heeled locals. Entrees start at about $30, but they're absolutely worth it. For my meal, everything was cooked to perfection and came with the personalized service only small restaurants like this can offer. For more about Triomphe's menu, check the restaurant's website or it's glowing review from New York magazine. In April 2011, The Iroquois opened a 25-seat cocktail bar and lounge. The bar named Lantern's Keep repurposed a private dining room inside the Triomphe.
The bar is fully stocked with premium brands of liquor and boasts an impressive list of signature cocktails -- I highly recommend the grapefruit gimlet!
Five minutes from Grand Central and 10 minutes from bustling Times Square, the Iroquois is an uncommonly quiet, 114-room hotel with an ideal Midtown West location. High-end perks include a sauna and a vintage library, but the rooms feel older than most boutique hotel rooms, despite their flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi.