This upper-middle-range, eco-friendly hotel is a good choice for business travelers and couples seeking a central location in Midtown Manhattan. In-room kitchens, an on-site grocery store, and free breakfasts offer guests a healthier -- and cheaper -- alternative to dining out. Rooms are designed for two guests, but adjoining rooms are available. The Element’s location in Times Square is within a three-minute walk from the city’s major subway lines, making it easy to get just about anywhere in New York.
The 41-story Element hotel, completed in 2010, has modern, minimalist style and a "green" theme that reflects the hotel’s eco-friendly practices.
The first floor houses a spacious lobby and lounge where guests can sit and mingle over free coffee during the day or cocktails and snacks during weeknight receptions. An outdoor terrace on the top floor offers great views of the surrounding city. Cigarettes are not welcome anywhere in the hotel -- even on the terrace.
Since most guests are business travelers or couples, children are an uncommon sight at the Element.
This central hotel is closer to the Port Authority Bus Terminal than the bright lights of Times Square.
The Element is located on a dull industrial street, about five blocks from the famous stretch of Times Square where the ball is dropped on New Year’s Eve. This means visitors are farther from the tourist zone and closer to Manhattan’s major subway lines.
Though once seedy, Times Square was reborn in the mid-'90s as a commercialized tourist haven, lit by 24-hour flashing billboards and theme restaurants like ESPN Zone and Bubba Gump Shrimp. Today, visitors walking the streets are more likely to be accosted by a comedy-club promoter, a rickshaw bicycle operator, or a caricature artist than a mugger. It's crowded, but there's something unquestionably exhilarating -- and convenient -- about staying in the neon-lit heart of the city. Plus, the mayor recently decided to close off much of Broadway to traffic, making it more pedestrian-friendly.
3 blocks from the A, C, E subway lines; 5 blocks from 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S, W subway lines -- just about every major subway line in the city
20-minute subway ride to Central Park
5 blocks to Times Square
20-minute bus ride to the Empire State Building
30-minute subway ride or $14 taxi to the ferry terminal to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
20-minute bus ride to Rockefeller Center
20-minute subway ride to the American Museum of Natural History
30-minute subway ride or $10 taxi to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the "Met") and 15-minute subway ride to the Museum of Modern Art (the "MoMa")
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that 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. Public transit is also available 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 stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Spacious rooms have modern style and convenient kitchenettes.
The Element’s 411 rooms each have a well-equipped kitchenette, king-size bed, work desk with ergonomic chair, and eco-friendly appliances. There are three different room types -- Standard, Studio, and Suite -- which vary only in layout and square footage (size ranges from 305 to 522 square feet). Since rooms have only one bed each and no pull-out couches, the hotel recommends adjoining rooms for groups larger than two people. As is the case in many New York City hotels, lower-level rooms get street noise, so light sleepers may want to book a room on a higher floor.
Business travelers may appreciate sleek work desks with ergonomic chairs and free wired and wireless Internet access. DVD players, LCD TVs, and plug-and-play docking stations also make it easy to enjoy movies and music in the room.
Bathrooms feature rain showerheads with detachable wands, but are otherwise unremarkable.
King-size Heavenly Beds that are specially designed for Westin hotels
Sleek work desks with power outlets and wired Internet hook-up
Free Wi-Fi and wired Internet
Large flat-screen TVs
Plug-and-play docking stations that play media through the TV
Rooms can only fit two guests, but adjoining rooms are available
The Element has only one bed per room and no rollaway or sofa beds, so it's best suited for single travelers and couples. Management suggests that families book two adjoining rooms, but this will usually be more expensive than booking a room with two double or queen beds at another hotel. Families may want to consider the nearby Muse, which is part of the kid-friendly Kimpton chain.
Free breakfast served daily, plus snacks and drinks on weeknights
A breakfast buffet is provided every morning in a dining area near the hotel lobby. Smoothies, granola, pastries, and a variety of organic and local food are available.
Free receptions are also hosted in the hotel lounge every evening, Monday through Thursday. Typical offerings include wine, beer, and small snacks.
Guests can make use of their in-room kitchenettes by purchasing food from a small grocery store next to the lobby -- though most of what’s for sale isn’t exactly healthy or organic. Candy, chips, beer, soda, ice cream, microwavable dinners, and pasta are the most common items on the shelves. No room service is available, but guests can grab food at this store 24 hours a day.
Walking distance to several bars for live music and entertainment
There is no hotel bar, but guests can enjoy free wine and beer during receptions in the lounge four nights a week (Monday through Thursday). Beer and wine are also sold 24 hours a day in the lobby grocery store.
Built for sustainability and seeking LEED certification
Element New York Times Square West was constructed from the ground up to meet superior energy and water efficiency standards, and it claims to be the most eco-friendly hotel in the city. Since 2008 Westin has built roughly a dozen similar “element” brand hotels in the U.S., and many are recognized by the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
Eco-friendly initiatives at the Element New York include in-room recycling bins and low-flow toilets.