W New York Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Midtown East, Manhattan, New York City

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Completely renovated in fall 2008
  • Large, modern fitness center that also offers personal training
  • Guests get priority booking at popular in-house Bliss Spa
  • Friendly, attentive service
  • Bliss toiletries
  • One to four blocks from six subway lines

Cons

  • Poorly lit rooms (it's deliberate mood lighting)
  • Standard “Cozy” rooms are smaller than at most NYC boutiques
  • Non-stop techno (a little annoying)
  • Fee for in-room Internet

Bottom Line

Business (and some leisure) travelers craving style and a social scene will enjoy the colorful, 688-room flagship of the W chain amidst Midtown East’s gray business hotels. Cutesy language and small, mood-lit rooms are not for everyone, but great service and a popular bar scene seem to justify the steep rates.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

An exclusive hotel catering to business travelers and featuring sexy, highly stylized decor.

Seating area in the hallways
Seating area in the hallways

With creative lighting, highly stylized furniture, a constant techno soundtrack, and a candle scent developed exclusively for the hotel -- the W chain cares greatly about the mood it creates. But this isn’t quite a designer boutique. It’s a member of the Starwood hotel family, and a stylish sister to the Westins and Sheratons the world over. But the W brand tries hard to distance itself from the rest. It even has its own language -- the lobby is the “living room,” elevators are “lifts” and the gym is simply “Sweat.” For all this sexy gleam, the hotel manages to get away with charging more than twice as much as the Intercontinental right across the street.

What’s interesting about this is that the W New York primarily caters to business travelers -- this is made clear by the constant presence of Blackberries and briefcases throughout the cozy “living room.” The lobby is undeniably inviting and cozy (particularly with its fireplace), and the modern, stylish rooms feel less sterile than a typical room in a large hotel chain.

The chain's affiliation with Starwood brands and its popular guest loyalty program make it an attractive option for business travelers, particularly since there aren't any other Starwood hotels in Midtown East (except the small but ultra high-end St. Regis). As the first W to open (in 1998), and having been renovated in the fall of 2008 and then again in 2012 (event spaces only), it's the brand's New York flagship. All W Hotels are "80 percent brand and 20 percent indigenous," meaning New York hotels feature different design influences than the W in South Beach, or Marrakech.

 Location

In Midtown East, a 15-20 minute walk from Central Park, and surrounded by office buildings and restaurants. But there's not much nightlife in the area.

The W New York is located in Midtown East, a neighborhood that has long been a favorite for visitors who come to the city for both work and play. Though the immediate blocks surrounding the hotel feel like a "hotel district," business travelers love the area because it is convenient to the offices of nearly every Fortune 500 company, and is just six blocks from Grand Central, which services all East Side subway lines.

Leisure guests enjoy the central location of the hotel, which is convenient to popular tourist destinations, including Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the MoMA -- all are within a two-to-six block radius. Other areas of interest nearby include Central Park, an 843-acre haven for the urban outdoorsman just 20 blocks north of the hotel. The hotel has hosted several high-profile guests in town to visit to the U.N., which is just five blocks away.

The Theater District and the lights and crowds of Times Square are just a 10- to 15-minute walk to the west.

The hotel is also convenient to Lexington Avenue shopping, which includes favorites like Bloomingdales, as well as the more upscale shops of Madison and Fifth avenues like Chanel, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana, and high-end department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney's.

The hotels is just two to six blocks away from nearly every east side subway line, and it's easy to head west, via the 42nd Street subway shuttle.

Most of the midtown neighborhood is considerably less empty in the evenings and late at night. Still, because there are so many higher end hotels in the immediate area -- with doormen loitering out front -- safety shouldn't be a huge concern for guests.

 Airport Transportation

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.

 Rooms

Some of the most modern, stylish rooms in Midtown East, with iPod docks and Bliss bath products, but the standard rooms are tiny, and the purple mood lighting can be too dim.

The Cozy Room
The Cozy Room

Rooms are decorated in a white and "aubergine" color palette, and have textured purple wallpaper in the bathroom, a purple orb light near the bed, a sleek purple cordless phone, and a purple chenille desk chair. The desk, slim closet, and minibar are all made of modern dark wood that the hotel touts as "exotic zebrawood."

Spa Suites are adjacent to the spa, Bliss49 and the fitness center. The open-plan bathroom essentially flows into the living area, so that the tub sits right behind the couch with a great view of the television. The shower is also open and located off the living room.

The hotel has two top-of-the-line Extreme Wow Suites, which the manager said can go for $4,000 "on a good night." Celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Terrence Howard have stayed in the suites, which feature beautiful wraparound terraces (including waterproof pool tables), Bose speaker systems built-in to the walls with iPod and XM Satellite radio integration, enormous flat-screen TVs, and another TV built into the bathroom mirror.

  • At about 170 square feet, the standard room, which they call the "Cozy Room" is certainly tiny -- only about a foot wider than the length of my double bed. The cramped space makes it difficult to get between the bed and the swiveling TV to the window.
  • The 200-square-foot Wonderful or Spectacular Rooms (identical except that they're on the top 10 floors and therefore offer better views), can be well worth it. At 270 square feet, the Mega Room is a good space for business travelers or anyone in town for more than a few days. These have space for the multi-functional desk to swivel out, and much more space for suitcases and other objects.
  • 27-inch (and up) flat-screen TV that swivels on a pole to allow for space and flexibility. The TV comes with lots of cable channels and also features on-demand movies and in-room checkout, and also has a DVD player.
  • Tivoli clock radio and iPod dock
  • Wi-Fi is available for a daily fee
  • Bathrooms have a glass shower, a long back-lit mirror, and two stainless steel shelves.
  • As at all W's, a major highlight was the selection of Bliss bath products
  • The "Heavenly" bed features a pillow-top mattress covered in 350-thread-count sheets, and is backed by an illuminated headboard that accounts for much of the bedroom's light.

 Features

The spa, fitness center, and business facilities are all fantastic; the ground floor shopping options are impressive but dangerously expensive!

Large, modern Fitness Center
Large, modern Fitness Center
  • "Whatever/ Whenever" service, where guests can make any (reasonable) request and the hotel will accomidate it.
  • The W New York houses one of the city's most popular spas, Bliss, which originated in New York but has now expanded into franchises all over the world (usually in conjunction with W Hotels).
  • The fitness center, Sweat, is large, modern and features a separate personal training area.
  • The business center, Wired, has a few desktop computers with high-speed Internet and faxing capabilities.
  • Typical hotel business services are also available through Whatever/Whenever.
  • Modern, stylish meeting and events rooms (renovated in 2012)
  • W The Store sells products found in the hotel (like Bliss, custom-scent candles, and music compilations), as well as upscale clothing, accessories, and travel goods.
  • House car and driver for free transportation arond the city. Car is stocked with snacks and drinks, as part of Whatever/Whenever service.

 Family

With the bar scene and rooms that strive to be sexy and high-tech, W’s don’t target kids.

A Mega Room is spacious enough to hold a cot, and the neighborhood is filled with a variety of cheap, family-friendly eating options. Service at the hotel is so friendly and accommodating that I don’t doubt they’d do their best to enhance a child’s stay.

 Pets

Cats and dogs less than 40 pounds are welcome, but guests must pay an additional per day fee, as well as a non-refundable cleaning fee.

The W’s P.A.W. (Pets Are Welcome) program offers perks like dog walking, grooming, and special pet-friendly snacks. There’s even a pets’ room service menu. The only issue is that there’s nary a park or patch of green space within five avenue blocks of the hotel (about a 15- to 20-minute walk to Central Park).

 Food

The W New York has a few casualy restaurants, but Midtown East is filled with eating options.

Breakfast at Heartbeat
Breakfast at Heartbeat

Heartbeat serves breakfast daily, and serves cocktails in the evening.

The W Cafe serves breakfast daily, and transforms into Oasis Bar in the evenings for cocktails and light fare.

Whiskey Blue is a stylish lounge, open every evening.

Lexington Avenue is clogged with hotels and office buildings, but a block over on Third Avenue there are lots of chain restaurants (plus my all-time favorite New York bagel place, Ess-a-Bagel). Second Avenue is lined with great restaurants.

 Drinks

Lobby bar Oasis is relaxed and almost always buzzing. Whiskey Blue, also on site, is the trendiest bar in the neighborhood.

Drinks at Oasis Bar
Drinks at Oasis Bar

The hotel is also connected to two bars. Oasis Bar is located in the middle of the lobby, and is a popular spot for meetings and casual after-work gatherings, particularly given the lobby's cozy atmosphere replete with comfy couches and a fireplace.

Whiskey Blue is adjacent to the lobby, and is much more of a scene. The swank David Rockwell-designed space features expensive drinks, pictures of rock stars on the wall, and waitresses in tight black dresses. It's the most stylish bar in the area and is therefore a magnet for many business travelers.

 Weddings

Superb service -- not the food or the spaces -- makes this location stand apart.

  • Wedding Size: Up to 250 guests; only one wedding at a time
  • Ceremony and Reception Location: The Forest Ballroom
  • Food and Drinks: Prices vary depending on specific menu choices and the day of the week for a five-hour open bar, four hot and four cold hors d'oeuvres, and a three-course plated dinner. Kids', kosher, vegetarian, and gluten-free menus available upon request.
  • Spa: The Bliss Spa has a full menu of services, though you'll have to make hair and makeup appointments elsewhere.
  • Honeymoon Suite: The Wow Suite is free for the bride and groom on their wedding night.

 Bottom Line

Business (and some leisure) travelers craving style and a social scene will enjoy the colorful, 688-room flagship of the W chain amidst Midtown East’s gray business hotels. Cutesy language and small, mood-lit rooms are not for everyone, but great service and a popular bar scene seem to justify the steep rates.

Things You Should Know About W New York

Address

  • 541 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022

Hotel is Also (or Was Formerly) Known As

  • w Hotel Lexington
  • w Hotel New York
  • w Hotel New York City
  • w New York City
  • w New York Hotel

Room Types

  • Extreme Wow Suite
  • Marvelous Suite
  • Mega Room
  • One Queen Cozy Room
  • One Queen Fantastic Suite
  • One Queen Wonderful Room
  • Spa Studio Suite
  • Spectacular Room
  • Studio Suite
  • Two Single Beds Wonderful Room
  • Wow Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 688
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Midtown East, Manhattan
Address: 541 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
(See Map)
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