Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A small hotel with a storied past, the Washington Square Hotel attracts NYU parents and tourists with its low-key but upscale location.
Built in 1902, the Washington Square Hotel has a storied past. In its previous incarnation it was Hotel Earle, a rundown resident hotel offering cheap shelter for famous writers and musicians during their struggling-artist years. Dylan Thomas was a frequent guest, and former occupant Bo Diddley even returned to play at the opening of the new lobby. Bob Dylan lived in Room 305, back when bohemian Greenwich Village was home to beatnik coffeehouses, not today's luxury residences.
The Paul family purchased the hotel in 1973 and changed the name in the '80s. Over the past several decades, the family has updated and beautified the 152-room hotel with a series of timely renovations. The Art Deco-inspired lobby was redone four years ago and remains the hotel’s showpiece. A striking white and green marble floor and a mural of actors from the golden age of cinema greets guests as they walk up to the polished-wood front desk. Beyond that, a reproduction of a famous John Singer Sargent painting sits between two couches upholstered in a rich green leather. Hand-painted murals and tile paintings throughout the hotel add a funky, homespun charm. They’re all the work of owner Judy Paul’s artist mother, Rita.
Since Greenwich Village turned from budget bohemian to one of NYC’s most upscale neighborhoods, the artists of the past have been replaced by parents of students and tourists who want to be away from Midtown chaos.
Now the hotel is one of NYCs most sought-after values. It overlooks Washington Square Park and has a free continental breakfast. The bar’s mosaic tile floor and Parisian wrought-iron gate plays on the romance of a bygone era.
Washington Square Hotel is akin to an intimate, family-run bed and breakfast. There’s no room service, no valet parking, no laundry service, and a single elevator for both guests and staff. However, the hotel offers several niceties not available at pricier establishments. Wi-Fi is free, and the free continental breakfast moves well beyond the perfunctory offerings of boxed cereal and plastic-wrapped Danishes.
The hotel is in residential Greenwich Village, overlooking Washington Square Park. It's a safe neighborhood with NYU students, multiple subway lines, and lots of foot traffic.
The hotel is one block west of the West 4th Street subway stop (Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue). The West 4th Street subway stop is one of the larger hubs, with both express lines (A, B, D) and local lines (C, E, F) that stretch from the Bronx well into Brooklyn. It’s easy to access both the west side of Manhattan and the Lower East Side from here, where New York’s best nightlife can be found. Even within a four block radius of the hotel is the world-famous Blue Note jazz club.
The hotel is on the northwest corner of a small park mostly populated by college students. It sits on a particularly charming block, lined with a cluster of gaily painted brownstone houses. One of the city’s finest Italian restaurants (with one of the hardest reservations to get) is across the street from the hotel: celebrity chef Mario Batali’s Babbo.
This is a quieter block. Most of the NYU and tourist traffic is situated around Bleecker Street, five blocks away. It’s a fairly safe area: There’s constant foot traffic at the end of the block, where the West 4th Street subway stop is. Washington Square Park is well-lit at night and well-patrolled, and there’s even an on-site police outpost. This is a very tourist- and student-heavy area with plenty of people coming and going at all hours. It’s actually pretty difficult to be all alone in Greenwich Village.
Rooms may be too tiny for extended-stay travelers, but they'll do for short-term guests.
Washington Square Hotel has 150 guest rooms divided into superiors, deluxes, and executive kings. Superiors and deluxes come in all bed varieties (twin, queen, quad, double, single). The main difference between the two is that deluxe rooms have a full view of the park or the city, while the cheaper superior rooms have partial or interior views, meaning they’re a bit dark.
Most rooms are small -- a Superior is only 143 square feet. The closets are also on the narrow side. The one mirrored door opens with space for little more than one coat, considering the two bath robes and umbrella already crammed inside. The other side of the closet is taken up by shelves. This is not the dream hotel of the extended-stay traveler. (There is, however, ample drawer and shelf space for folded garments.)
No rollaways are available, but there’s a free continental breakfast for the whole family. Plus, the hotel is across the street from a park with a playground, and there are many kid-friendly restaurants nearby.
Families benefit by the hotel’s proximity to Washington Square Park and the Village’s many kid-friendly restaurants. But smaller closet space does mean that a family will have to get creative about storage, and the hotel doesn’t offer rollaways because there’s no space for them in the rooms. Families should consider booking the deluxe quad, which comes with two double beds.
Guests should hit the well-balanced (and free) continental breakfast, but explore the neighborhood for more options later.
Depending on the airport, a taxi ride to the Village will take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.
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 one-hour, $45 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a 30-minute, $40 metered cab ride. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls), and can take more than 90 minutes. Guests should tip their drivers 15 percent to 25 percent.
To save some cash, tourists can try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to New York Airport Service. People can also opt for public transit from any of the airports 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 stairs. For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
More than a century old, the once-bohemian Washington Square Hotel now attracts NYU parents and tourists with its prime Greenwich Village location, stunning art-deco-style furnishings, and free continental breakfasts. The rooms are small at this B&B-style hotel, but those who book the deluxe room -- which has significantly more natural light -- come away with few complaints.