Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The W chain of hotels is the younger-leaning, more stylish arm of the Starwood Hotel group (which also operates Sheratons and Westins). W has properties all over the world, including five in Manhattan. The hotels are known for their purple, silver, and black color scheme, their extensive use of butterflies and kitschy design flourishes, and an unhealthy obsession with, yes, the letter "W" -- signs read "Welcome" at the front desk, "Whatever/Whenever" at the concierge, and "Woof" by the dog bowls at the entrance. Despite the Sesame Street-style alliteration, Ws around the city often draw decent crowds of young professional New Yorkers to their lobbies. The Olives restaurant and the basement bar Lilium at the W Union Square, the most "downtown" of all the Ws, is no exception: It's hip but not exclusive.
The public areas feel just a half-step behind those at the sleeker, moodier Royalton, but they're still interesting and comfortable -- especially with free Wi-Fi in the lobby (in-room Internet costs a daily fee). As at other New York Ws, techno and euro pop play over the speakers, and there are some pretty interesting cocktails on the menu. The large windows let in a lot of sunlight and afford some incredible people-watching opportunities.
Fast check-in, a solid concierge, and quick delivery on simple requests place the W just above par for New York hotels in its price range.
The W chain prides itself on its "whatever/whenever" service, wherein guests are encouraged to ask for, as the name suggests, anything at any time, as well as other conveince services.
Fittingly, the W Union Square sits on the northeast corner of Union Square, a park in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan. In the daytime and evening, the immediate area witnesses heavy foot traffic. Everyone from skateboarders to dogwalkers to well-dressed media types pass through. By midnight, though, the square's well lit but the park and its surrounding side streets thin out considerably.
A major subway station servicing eight trains (the L; the N, Q, R, W; and the 4, 5, 6), Union Square is surrounded by commercial properties, including a Regal movie theater, a Whole Foods, and a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Several dormitories and buildings of New York University and the New School lay nearby. Students tend to hit the area nightspots, and activists and artists often set up shop in Union Square park, but the hub and the shopping bring people from just about every New York walk of life to the area, making for a crowded and busy daytime scene that thins out at night.
Rooms were renovated in 2012. The updated room décor has a brighter palate and tones, as well as more modern furnishings. Renovated rooms have bright pops of color and striking accent walls that give a much more contemporary look to the space.
Available through the concierge, the DVD and video library features some kids movies. The room-service menu also includes children's options like mac and cheese, crispy chicken fingers, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The hotel offers cribs on request and also can arrange babysitting services through the concierge.
Solid family amenities notwithstanding, the hotel generally caters to business professionals, plus Union Square isn't ideally located for visiting kid-friendly New York attractions such as the museums around Central Park.
The W welcomes pets, but there's a weight limit and it can get pricey . Owners pay an additional fee per night above their daily room charge and a nonrefundable cleaning deposit.
With two dog bowls filled with treats and water at its entrance, the W Union Square opens its arms to pets. There's even a room-service menu for them. What's more, the park adjacent to the hotel features a popular dog run.
Celebrity chef Todd English, who also operates upscale Mediterranean restaurants in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well as Washington, Tokyo, and Aspen, runs Olives on the W's first floor, which was renovated in 2012 and serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. English's signature molten chocolate cake was once a distinct delight, but has since become more common among many NYC restaurants.
Lilium and the Living Room serve cocktails and small bites, also from a Todd English menu.
Around Union Square, there's a host of options in almost every direction.
Great food, attentive service, and a beautiful reception space that blends classic architecture and modern design.
W Hotels' 270-room Union Square property greatly resembles other Ws in New York: comfortable beds, modern rooms, an excellent gym, and plenty of business travelers in the butterfly-decorated, techno-soundtracked lobby. The difference: this one's downtown, near the bar-filled East Village and media-mecca Flatiron.