Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A stylish boutique hotel in a quiet neighborhood
The Hotel Roger Williams makes a stylish first impression: The trendy lobby looks straight out of a design magazine. Picture blue tufted sofas, soaring ceilings, exposed brick walls painted white, orb light fixtures that resemble floating bubbles, and black-and-white photographs of historic figures. A slatted wooden staircase leads up to The Parlour Lounge, a bistro-style restaurant with southern influences.
There are plenty of thoughtful boutique hotel extras, but almost none of them are free, which may make some guests feel nickel-and-dimed. Guests should expect free afternoon beverages in the lobby (such as cider or hot chocolate in cold months and Prosecco in warm months), but the freebies pretty much end there. There's an automatic service fee to cover Wi-Fi and use of the fitness center; the bathroom amenities (including toothpaste, razors, and more) all come with a surcharge; the breakfast buffet is pricey, and there is no coffee in either the room or the lobby.
In low-key Murray Hill, this section of corporate Madison Avenue becomes quiet at night. The Empire State Building is an eight-minute walk away.
With its corporate offices and residential buildings, the Murray Hill neighborhood gets quiet at night -- at least compared with the 24-hour bustle of Times Square or hip downtown 'hoods like the Lower East Side. It's also a safe part of town where local families take their kids to Madison Square Park, five short blocks from the hotel.
The nearest subway is the 6 train on 33rd Street and Park Avenue, a three-minute walk from Roger Williams. The 6 line runs along the east side of Manhattan, and is just one stop away from Grand Central Station, which has a shuttle train that connects to Times Square, the main hub for subway lines. Cabs are easy to hail outside the hotel entrance.
Valet parking is available for a daily fee. There's also a self-park garage on 32nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues that offers guests discounted rates. The parking ticket must be stamped by the hotel front desk to earn the discount.
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time consuming. From JFK, it's a flat-rate $45 (one-hour) taxi to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, 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 1.5 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.
Chic rooms with modern technology, but many have tiny bathrooms
The rooms at the Roger mix chic contemporary style with just a little bit of historic charm. They have plush white down bedding, cool gray accents, and modern technology (flat-screen TVs, iPod docks); some have applied crown moldings and stylized black-and-white photos of iconic New York City scenes above the headboards.
Sleek bathrooms have marble counters and mosaic tiling, but many are tiny; some made odd gurgling noises during my visit (likely a result of this being an older building).
Modern 24-hour gym and a daily service fee
Space is limited, and the hotel is a 30-minute subway ride away from most kid-friendly attractions.
The rooms with two double beds are large enough for a family of four, but the bathrooms are too small for more than one person.
Rollaway beds are available for a nightly fee, but they don't fit in the smallest rooms. Cribs are available free. The hotel doesn't offer babysitting, but it can recommend an outside service. There are no kids' activities around the hotel. In fact, the general area doesn't offer anything exciting for kids as it's mostly populated by corporate offices.
The Madison Square Park playground is the only kid-friendly venue around. It's just five short blocks down Madison Avenue, and the neighborhood kids swing on the monkey bars during the day. For kid-friendly food, the park has an awesome burger stand called Shake Shack, but prepared to wait in line.
Most of the kid-friendly museums (the Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, the Children's Museum of Manhattan) are on the Upper West Side. By subway it would be about a 30 to 45 minute ride, with two transfers.
A trendy lobby lounge and a bistro-style restaurant
This quiet boutique on Madison Avenue in the less touristy area of Murray Hill has plenty to recommend it: a super trendy lobby (courtesy of a 2012 renovation), chic rooms with modern technology, a bistro-style restaurant, and thoughtful extras such as free beverages in the lobby (such as cider in colder months and Prosecco in warmer months). But there's an automatic service fee for use of the 24-hour fitness center and Wi-Fi, there are no in-room coffeemakers, and the amenities in the bathroom aren't free, which may leave some guests feeling nickel-and-dimed. All in all, it's still an excellent boutique option in the neighborhood, though it's worth comparing rates with the nearby King & Grove.