Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A 2009-renovated, 200-room mid-range boutique near Times Square; stylishly contemporary (and perhaps a touch feminine) in design, mellow in atmosphere, the Muse is a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhood.
Housed in a historic limestone-and-brick-fronted building that was until recently filled with offices, this 200-room property is the result of a stylish and thorough renovation by the Kimpton Hotels chain and is now arguably the premier mid-range boutique in the Times Square area.
Instead of evoking the hustle and bustle of Times Square or the kitchiness of the block, Kimpton's renovation (completed in April 2009) plays up the neighborhood's boho-chic history and longtime association with artists, actors, and musicians -- and it works. Stacked up against the Grand Hyatt, the Marriot Marquis, and the other monolithic hotels -- even the Comfort Inn across the street -- in the crossroads of the world, this personable property feels as small and sleek and friendly as a boutique on the Upper West Side or the West Village. The only difference: the noises outside (which sometimes leak in) remind you that you’re in the middle of the action.
Guests tend to be either Gen-Xers in their 30s or fashion-forward retirees on vacation. They love the hotel not just because Broadway is right outside the door, but also because it's a quiet retreat from the neighborhood, with its own distinctive flavor. There's something subtly feminine about the Muse, but not in a flowery way. Each room sports a bust of the Greek goddess (and muse of comedy) Thalia as well as whimsical, Surrealism-inspired prints on the walls.
A front desk staff member answers each call by asking, “How can I inspire you?” The complimentary wine served in the lobby each night was certainly inspiration enough for me (and other guests, too, judging by the crowd that gathered).
As at many service-driven hotels, the concierge is happy to arrange whatever a guest can dream up. In the case of the Muse, staff is eager to procure theater tickets, book tours of the city, and even schedule in-room spa treatments.
Free shoe-shine service is also available, and guests may have a newspaper of their choice delivered to their room at no charge.
On a relatively (and surprisingly) quiet block in the noisiest part of town, half a block from Times Square.
You can't expect to find complete and utter peace in or around Times Square, but this hotel, on a relatively quiet block, comes reasonably close to insulating guests from Broadway’s sounds, sights, and action. Several restaurants share the block, including John’s Shanghai, an excellent Chinese restaurant next door.
Because the Theater District is still bustling late at night, guests will feel safe in this neighborhood at virtually any hour.
Automobile traffic was recently banned from Times Square itself, but taxis are easy to find on the surrounding blocks at virtually any time of day or night. And nearly every subway line in the city crosses through Times Square.
30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that 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. Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Rooms have luxury bedding and free premium cable will inspire a good rest, though light sleepers may be bothered by the street noise.
My King Executive room certainly inspired me to crash very un-goddess-like onto the bed, which was supremely comfortable. The hotel tops the beds with multiple layers of feather bedding that combine for an exceptional sleeping experience. All beds are triple-sheeted with high-end, all-cotton Frette linens and topped with a "fall"-weight down comforter (management says that “summer” is too light and “winter” is too heavy).
The rooms are filled with glossy black furniture accented with white, including a very nice writing desk. (A minor complaint: The desk chair was too high for the desk.) Whimsical Dali-esque prints hang from the walls. The 37-inch LG flat-screen TV had cable with free Showtime and HBO, and beautiful picture quality.
The clean and roomy bathrooms feature Etro bath products as well as a bag of assorted toiletries -- from nail-polish remover to tweezers to hair spray -- available for between $2 and $4. And guests can call to order from a list of free items not normally available at most hotels, including heating pads, humidifiers, and curling irons.
Kimpton takes pride in providing guests with what they need before they ask. Because of this, little amenities are scattered throughout the room (and usually cost extra). In the closet, for example, are matching leopard-print cami and boxer shorts in three different sizes, along with a zebra-print terry robe and fuzzy socks, all for sale at fairly reasonable prices.
In-room spa treatments and a small but decent gym; no business center.
A small and slightly dark fitness center is on the second floor of the hotel; it's windowless but will get the job done. If guests would like a more souped-up gym experience, the front desk has complimentary passes for Bally’s Total Fitness, a few blocks away at 48th Street and 9th Avenue.
There is no business center, but faxing, copying, and printing services are available through the concierge.
While there's no spa on the premises, massages, manis and pedis, and even facials can be ordered up to the room through the concierge.
Wireless access is available throughout the hotel and in all guest rooms; annoyingly, “silver” service and the faster “gold” service are available for daily fees. Kimpton InTouch members, however, get free "gold" Wi-Fi at any Kimpton hotel, and the program is free to join. Members also get other perks like minibar snacks free of charge (price limit).
Kids are certainly welcome, but few actually fall under the spell of the Muse.
Kimpton touts itself as a kid-friendly chain. The hotel will gladly set up a crib or childproof a room for no additional charge. Upon arrival, kids get a welcome gift and there are child-size animal-print robes available to borrow or purchase, just like Mom and Dad get.
Rivals your neighborhood vet with friendliness toward four-leggers -- and pet-icures for your pooch!
The Muse is an impressively pet-friendly hotel, having hosted everything from snakes (!) to penguins (!) to a pig (!), many of them are in town to appear on television shows that tape nearby. Ginger, a teacup Pomeranian, serves as the “Director of Pet Relations,” a companion to one of the hotel staff members. On most days, Ginger can be found hanging out on her leopard-print bed near the concierge. She has even done the morning-show circuit, most recently on the Today show for a segment about pet-friendly hotels.
The hotel has a Pampered Pooch and a Hers and Furs package, starting at $229, which provides in-room pedicures for a guest and her dog. Pets also receive a special welcome package upon arrival, with food and treats for both the dogs and their human companions. There is no surcharge to bring a pet to the Muse, though the hotel limits guests to two pets per room. Dogwalking, sitting, grooming, and food delivery can all be arranged for an extra charge.
Charming restaurant and wine bar offers room service, too.
Nios wine bar and restaurant boasts a 1,200-bottle wine list assembled by sommelier Emily Wines (yes, that's really her name). Chef Patricia Williams has created one of the more esoteric menus for casual Times Square dining, including new American dishes like butter-poached shrimp and bison-and-bacon meatloaf.
Nios serves three meals a day, and also handles the hotel’s room service.
This boutique hotel is steps from the center of bustling Times Square but feels like a calm oasis. With stylish rooms and suites, a hip new wine bar, and a restaurant with a locally acclaimed chef -- plus a free wine hour each night -- the Muse is a great alternative to the mid-priced mega hotels that pervade the neighborhood.