Hotel Of The Week: Hotel QT, New York

You thought you'd just found a bed for the night. Not at the Hotel QT in New York. It's a venue in itself for the 'budget-chic' crowd. The pool bar is where the party gets going
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The Independent Travel

When it comes to short-break destinations, where better to dance away those post-Christmas blues than New York? The exchange rate, sales, affordable flights - and the throbbing nightlife - make it the place to find, buy and wear your dancing shoes.

At the heart of Manhattan, a few seconds' staggering distance from the bright lights of Times Square, is the ideal place to get the party started - Hotel QT. The latest offering from celebrity hotelier André Balazs, the QT - from the phrase "on the QT" (aka quiet) - is one of mid-town Manhattan's best-kept secrets. Adopting Balazs's brand of "budget-chic", it resembles something between an edgy youth hostel and a luxurious boutique hotel - replete with plenty of attitude and an appetite for fun.

The hotel's main pull is its lobby pool, adjoining the bar. Every evening, a poolside DJ spins the latest hip-hop and dance music while on the wet and dry sides of the bar young urbanites - in business attire or bikinis - order from a range of excellent cocktails and obscure Belgian beers. Comfortable, affordable, elegant and original, this place is unlikely to stay on the QT for long.

The location

Pretty much as perfect as it can get for eager shoppers, sightseers and social butterflies alike; slap-bang in the middle of Manhattan. Hotel QT is hidden discreetly on West 45th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

The comfort factor

It has been converted from a 16-storey office building, so space is generally tight. The beds are built on oversized, leather-upholstered platforms for efficiency. The hotel has some nice technical touches, from iPod docks in every room to free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the building. A number of rooms have ingenious double bunk beds, while others have cruise-style single bunks, each fitted with mini flatscreen TVs.

The bathroom

Fitting the "chic crash pad" theme, the bathrooms are almost as big as the bedrooms. The unspoken message is clear: you're only here to briefly relax and recharge after a hard day surfing the sidewalk, before making yourself look a million dollars and heading out to embrace the nightlife. None of the bathrooms have tubs, but all have energetic monsoon showers, with large, sliding doors.

The food and drink

The complimentary breakfast - freshly baked muffins and bagels plus yoghurts, fruit and steaming black coffee - is just the ticket to set yourself up for a day of bargain hunting, or simply to ease your hangover. The hotel has no restaurant, but there are a number of carefully chosen take-out menus in the rooms, so you can order pretty much any food you'd like and have it delivered to your door. And what the QT lacks in a restaurant, it makes up for in spades with its poolside bar.

The people

Predominantly young, upwardly mobile media types in their 20s and 30s, though families are attracted to the bunk-bed rooms. A sprinkling of celebrities have already been sighted here, including Candace Bushnell and Moby. And a number of bands have started holing up in the QT when performing in New York - due to its excellent location, multi-bed rooms and relaxed vibe.

The area

The location is as good as it gets - you're pretty much bouncing on the mattress of the city that never sleeps. The bright lights of Times Square are just a few seconds' walk to the west, while the shops of Fifth Avenue, the shows of Broadway and the seasonal ice rink of the Rockefeller Center are all within easy walking distance. As are Central Park, the Empire State Building and the legendary Macy's department store.

The access

Very wheelchair friendly: it's ramps and automatic doors go all the way. Even the bar is accessed by a slope rather than steps (quite handy when it comes to leaving after a few of the barmaid's dirty martinis).

The damage

Rooms start at $230 (£118) per night in January and February, including taxes.

The address

Hotel QT, 125 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036 (001 212 354 2323; hotelqt. com.