Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
An exclusive hotel catering to business travelers and featuring sexy, highly stylized decor.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
The W New York has a few casualy restaurants, but Midtown East is filled with eating options.
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.
Lobby bar Oasis is relaxed and almost always buzzing. Whiskey Blue, also on site, is the trendiest bar in the neighborhood.
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.
Superb service -- not the food or the spaces -- makes this location stand apart.
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.