There's "much delayed", "long awaited", and then there's 6 Columbus, the latest property of the American boutique-hotel wizard Jason Pomeranc. It joins Pomeranc's other oh-so-hip and constantly fully booked hotels, 60 Thompson in SoHo and the Roosevelt in Hollywood, as part of a fast-growing empire of lifestyle hotels that come complete with their own brand of mood-music CDs and fashion magazine. But... it was first scheduled to join them back in June 2005. One thing led to another, or rather it didn't (it remained functioning as ultra-budget digs West Park Hotel for some time), and its 88 rooms finally opened in October; a small but pretty well-formed piece of New York chic.
The overall look that the designer Steven Sclaroff has gone for is Sixties mod meets, well, modern mod. While the lifts are clad in dark ponyskin, the louche Austin Powers touches end there. This is a very smart, quite masculine interior, featuring vertically laid navy- blue ceramic tiles on the bathroom walls, teak and walnut finishes, post-Bridget Riley monochrome textiles and framed Guy Bourdin prints. Every room resembles a swanky, if bijou, bachelor pad, right down to the Dean & DeLuca snacks and the Shag Bag (complete with condoms, mints and "dream cream") in the minibar.
Yet there's no mistaking this for anything other than a very New York hotel – you can still sense the creaky vintage Gotham proportions and textures beneath the gloss of the makeover; in many ways, this just adds character. It is hard to beat for location if you're looking for a touch of downtown chic in a central setting. Set at the point where Broadway hits Central Park South and West and runs into Midtown, it's in an area that, thanks to the neighbouring AOL Time Warner Center – the city's highest-valued property – and its residents that include Per Se and Mesa (the two most expensive restaurants on the island), has seen its star ascend ever higher in recent years.
A branch of the much-loved downtown Blue Ribbon sushi and bakery restaurants opened recently in the small lobby, serving up all kinds of surf (nigiri and maki) and turf (steak), and a rooftop bar is scheduled for spring. Service avoids any of the aloof pretension that you might fear from such a slick-looking operation – the staff are friendly and helpful. Just be sure to ask for a street-view room, or you can end up with that most New York of phenomena: the narrow alleyway anti-vista.
6 Columbus, 6 Columbus Circle, Manhattan, New York City, US (001 212 204 3000; www.sixcolumbus.com). The hotel is paces away from the very point from which all distances to and from New York City are measured – the statue of Columbus in Columbus Circle.
Time from international airport: 45 minutes in a taxi from JFK airport. Taxis charge a $45 (£24) flat fare – excluding toll and tip – from JFK to any point in Manhattan. From Newark, it is about an hour's drive and a $70 (£37) fare excluding tip and tolls.
The beds may be a little on the soft side for some, but have tip-top linen and pillows. The curtains are grey pinstripe with school-blazer blue. Unlike its downtown sister, 60 Thompson, the rooms in 6 Columbus have desks, which make working on your laptop between shopping and dinner easy. The bathroom mirror is of the dramatically magnifying kind, while the shower units are sorely lacking a shelf of any kind, so you have to bend for any bottles you've brought in with you.
Freebies: the amenities by the Boston beauty brand Fresh will have you buying in bulk from one of its Manhattan stores; the sharp and citrussy Soy shampoo is as close to irresistible as a glorified soap product could be, and since the full-sized bottles will cost you $24 (£18.50) down the road, the miniatures here are well worth pocketing.
Keeping in touch: the Thompson Group's offering of free Wi-Fi is fitting with the contemporary style of its hotels, and makes a nonsense of the big luxury Central Park South dinosaurs that still charge in the region of $15 (£8) a day to their guests to log on. There are also LG flatscreen TVs and direct-dial phones in every room.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Double rooms start at $315 (£166), room only.
I'm not paying that: The Hotel Riverside Studios, 342 West 71st Street, New York (001 212 873 5999; www.riversidestudioshotel.com) has no-frills rooms a few blocks from the AOL Time Warner and Lincoln Centers from $65 (£34), room only.