Stay the night: W New York
They've spent $40m rejuvenating this Manhattan hotel. Will the results please its trend-setting guests?
Sunday 07 June 2009
There's nothing like a birthday to prompt a good hard look in the mirror. At W New York, they took the hint and lavished $40m on a complete makeover of this, the inaugural W hotel, which opened on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue 10 years ago.
What else would you expect from Starwood's trend-setting brand, which gave the hospitality industry the "Wow" factor – at least as a room name, along with Wonderful, Spectacular, Mega, Marvellous and Cozy. The concept has proved to be a big hit with W's young, style-driven target audience – an essential travel accessory for the regular city-breaker. These urban resorts with their sceney bars are a destination in their own right.
Now guests can enjoy added "bursts of wow" from new "nature-inspired" colours, textures and furnishings, "organic shapes and modern angles". Yet, for W's neo-nightclub style, it's a drab palette, heavy on the browns and deep purples, which the odd white wall or splash of bright colour can't quite relieve.
All 688 rooms in the 11-storey property have been refreshed. W's theatrical – the unkind might say gloomy – lighting remains key to the look, centring on the very comfortable bed, where headboards featuring abstract photos are backlit and pools of amber light spill out from its base. It's a matter of taste, but you might feel like you're sleeping in a teenage boy's customised car. A hanging, rotatable flat-screen television and the functional multi-level desk attempt to compensate for the perennial problem facing any Manhattan hotel – lack of space. The aubergine ceilings don't help in the smaller rooms. Best efforts have been made to give the illusion of space in the styling of the bathrooms, with glass panels replacing the shower curtains, floating shelves and horizontal grooves in the wall coverings. But you can't help but know you're in New York when you sit hugging your knees in the tub.
The food and drink
The restaurant is only open for breakfast until further notice, though snacks, lunch and dinner can be ordered in the lobby bar, between 12pm and 1am – a three-course meal without drinks costs around $30 a head. For somewhere new to try in the city, check out the nutritious yet delicious restaurant Rouge Tomate (rougetomate.com) at 14 East 60th Street, just off Fifth Avenue.
Work out in the Sweat fitness centre, or chill out in the Bliss49 spa. Then step out on to one of Manhattan's premier streets, in the heart of midtown. Serious shopping and theatreland are a short walk away and landmarks including the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station and the Rockefeller Center are within easy reach.
Children are welcome at the hotel. Small cats and dogs are admitted (and will be pampered at an extra cost). The hotel is accessible by wheelchair and Braille is also featured in the lifts.
Double rooms cost from £139 per night. Kate Simon flew to New York with British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), which offers return flights from £402.
W New York, 541 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (00 212 755 1200; whotels.com/newyork).
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