Quieter street for those who want to avoid Times Square
Free Wi-Fi throughout
This older property has some maintenance issues
Bland decor and few frills
Some rooms have dull views of the building next door
Breakfast buffet and daily parking are not cheap
Formerly the first Holiday Inn in Manhattan, built in 1964, this conveniently located Midtown hotel became The Watson Hotel in 2017. Though the exterior is remarkably dull, rooms -- 596 in two towers, North and South -- offer contemporary decor in neutral tones. In the summer, the hotel’s most notable feature comes alive: an outdoor rooftop pool, sundeck, and bar serving drinks. The rest of the year, guests can head to the main sports bar, which has authentic NYC artifacts from the owner’s collection, including a Harley-Davidson. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout. The location -- on West 57th St., as the name suggests -- is within walking distance of Columbus Circle, Central Park, and Lincoln Center. Just note that there are more stylish options in the neighborhood for the price, such as the Tryp and the Paramount.
A mid-range hotel with a touch of the owner's personality
The hotel’s main entrance leads guests to a spacious, if bland, corporate lobby. There is a concierge area for guests interested in theater tickets -– a convenient amenity, considering the hotel's proximity to the Theater District.
The clientele here includes overseas travelers, business travelers, group travelers, student groups, and entertaining groups performing at nearby Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center. It's also popular for those in the healthcare industry who use the meeting space for small conferences. (Roosevelt Hospital is a block away.)
When this property opened in 1964 to house visitors to the World's Fair, it was the first Holiday Inn in Manhattan. It became a Days Inn for 10 years, before it became a Holiday Inn again in 1996. In February 2017, it was re-branded as The Watson Hotel. Rooms were fully renovated in 2014, but that doesn’t mean the hotel feels modern -- no, it would take some serious work to rid itself of its past. But it's one of the more affordable mid-range options near Midtown sights and Central Park. The colorful sports bar, decorated with the owner's collection of sports memorabilia and his Harley-Davidson, can usually be counted on for a happy hour crowd and top Billboard hits.
A quieter alternative to Times Square, close to theaters and Central Park
The hotel, as its name suggests, can be found on West 57th Street in Midtown West. For those driving in, it’s an easy location to reach -- just take the 57th Street exit from Henry Hudson Parkway. This area of the city is quieter than Times Square, but still only a few blocks away from Columbus Circle's multiple subway lines. Columbus Circle also has the Time Warner Center, home to plenty of clothes shopping and a Whole Foods -- a great spot to grab items for picnicking in Central Park across the street. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is within walking distance, as is Carnegie Hall. It's just under a 20-minute walk to the heart of Times Square.
There are 596 rooms in two towers, North and South, most with either two double beds, one king, or one queen; larger one-bedroom suites are also available. All room type layouts are consistent floor by floor, so group bookings are a cinch (a large bulk of the business). Renovations completed in mid 2014 brought a new neutral color scheme to the rooms (browns, beiges, and a touch of green), as well as duvets (no more patterned bedspreads), fresh carpeting, drapes, NYC print wall hangings, large flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. Some units are more spacious with stellar Midtown views, while others are more cramped with enclosed views of the building next door. It’s the luck of the draw. Business travelers will appreciate the work desks, modern lamps, and free Wi-Fi.
A sports bar and rooftop pool add value to this basic hotel
Guests staying here during summer months can take advantage of the rooftop outdoor pool and sundeck, which is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend (weather permitting). It can sometimes get crowded with kids, but adults will likely appreciate that the adjacent rooftop bar serves cocktails.
On the main level, there is a concierge desk for Broadway tickets and tourist excursions, as well as a sports bar anchored by a Harley-Davidson. The space is naturally lit from the skylight, and brightly colored chairs liven up the decor. For those who want to stay on-site, the breakfast area (the buffet is a little expensive) becomes Gotham Cafe for a la carte dinners. Room service is available from early morning until late at night.
There's a small business center attached to the lobby where guests get unlimited use of the computers, and free Wi-Fi is offered throughout.