Free passes to nearby chain gym with group classes and modern equipment
Valet parking (for a fee), and on-site electric car charging station
Two Mac computers and a printer available in the lobby
No full restaurant on-site (local restaurants can deliver to the room)
No fitness center
Classic decor may not appeal to everyone; some areas look dated
The 138-room Roger Smith is an artsy mid-range boutique hotel conveniently located in Midtown East, within walking distance of major attractions and seven subway lines. This family-run property has tons of thoughtful touches, including individually decorated rooms with hand-picked antiques, free yogurt and granola in the lobby, and rotating art exhibitions in common spaces. It lacks most of the amenities found in larger hotels, such as a full restaurant and a fitness center, but the Roger Smith offers free passes to a local chain gym and offers room service from local restaurants. Those looking to stay closer to Central Park may want to compare rates at the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, which has a similar vibe and a popular gastro-pub.
Family-run hotel with lots of Old World charm and artsy touches
This homey boutique hotel feels worlds away from its surrounding corporate skyscrapers in Midtown East. Although housed in a big 16-story brown brick building similar to many of its neighbors, this hotel has a vibe unlike any other of the large hotels found nearby. For starters, it has been owned by the same family for 80-plus years, which has allowed for continuity in service standards, decor style, and overall atmosphere. Further, the owners have a strong commitment to promoting local artists, a feature that gives the Roger Smith a unique character. Indeed, the hotel has an artsy vibe throughout, with rotating exhibitions of local artists in the lobby and the ground-floor bar, large mural designs in some bathrooms, and a facade decorated with metal reliefs.
Decor is traditional throughout, with hand-picked antiques, lots of wood finishes, and a soft neutral palette both in common spaces and rooms. With its red wall-to-wall carpeting, mustard grandma armchairs with flower prints, and a heavy wooden front desk with delicate carvings, the lobby sets the vibe for a homey stay with tons of Old World character. This style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and some guests have found it dated rather than charming. But the property arguably feels cozy and intimate, and it is a welcome departure from the many business-oriented hotels in the area.
Central Midtown East location, blocks from Grand Central Station and Fifth Avenue
The hotel's entrance is right on Lexington Avenue, a street busy with cars but relatively little foot traffic. Some sporty dive bars along Second Avenue can be a bit lively if the right game is on, but this is an area better known for its business offices than its nightlife. Iconic skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building and the Seagram Building, each a five-minute walk from the hotel, dominate the skyline, while on the ground, plenty of delis and Starbucks cafes feed the cubicle occupants. Fifth Avenue, located two blocks away, is home to famous shopping destinations such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., along with high-end flagships like Gucci and Versace. Major attractions, including Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Bryant Park, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of Modern Art are all within a 15-minute walk of the hotel. There are seven subway lines within six blocks of the Roger Smith, which allows for easy, cheap access to other sights a little farther afield. JFK Airport is an hour drive or subway ride away.
Charming rooms with classic decor, modern amenities, and homey touches
Stepping into one of the Roger Smith’s 138 rooms feels like staying in a friend’s guest room. Decor is classic and elegant throughout, with several hand-picked antiques in each room, mirrors with ornate golden frames, and thick rugs over handsome wooden floors. Touches such as live plants and small libraries (guests are encouraged to participate in the hotel’s book exchange program) make units homey and cozy, and small lamps emit soft warm light. The neutral palette and delicate wallpaper may be dated to some, though, and some guests have found rooms a little worn in areas. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout, and each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, a minibar, an iPod dock, and a safe. Coffeemakers, mini-fridges, and hairdryers are also available in all rooms. Additionally, Junior Suites and Suites feature microwaves, dinnerware, sofa beds, and robes, and selected units also offer Apple TV devices.
Bathrooms are spacious and clean in all rooms, with shower/tub combos, either elegant pedestal sinks or contemporary round basins over marble counters, and high-end all-natural Beekman 1802 toiletries. Some bathrooms also have huge contemporary mural designs made directly on the marble tiles.
Small bar with art exhibits, seasonal rooftop bar, meeting rooms, and great freebies
Lily’s Bar occupies a small space adjacent to the lobby, but has its own entrance directly on the street, drawing not only hotel guests and tourists but also local businesspeople for after-work drinks. It has bright red walls and aged wooden floors, and its walls are hung with rotating exhibitions that showcase local artists. The cute back room often hosts cultural activities such as book presentations, lectures, and readings. Open seasonally only, Henry’s is the hotel’s rooftop bar, popular among guests and non-guests alike for its Midtown views and quiet vibe. Although the atmosphere is more homey than business-oriented here, the hotel features five fully equipped meeting rooms, including one with a wraparound terrace and Chrysler Building views. Two Mac computers and a printer are available in the lobby.
Yogurt, granola and apples are offered free of charge in a nook in the lobby throughout the day, and free passes to a local chain fitness center with group classes are available to all guests. The hotel lacks a full restaurant, but a wide range of neighborhood eateries deliver to the hotel and purchases can be charged to the room. Valet parking (for a fee) and free Wi-Fi are also available.