W New York
New York City has hotel rooms for every taste and budget and, when it comes to boutique hotels, the city is the epicenter. The Starwood Hotels W chain is acknowledged as the brand that once epitomized the boutique hotel and the grand-daddy of that chain is the W New York. My decision to stay there was based purely on nostalgia: it had been my home away from home when I traveled regularly to New York on business. The midtown location can’t be beat and it’s within walking distance of several subway lines.
The rooms are small, even by New York City standards, and there’s no escaping the city noise below. Unless you receive an upgrade, chances are your room will be big enough only for a bed and a desk. However, the rooms all have the signature W Bed; indeed, the Starwood Hotels seem to have the only hotel beds I can truly get a decent night’s sleep in – and there are wonderful Bliss bathroom products. Should you really need to unplug further, there’s always the Bliss spa downstairs.
Road Warrior Support
Although I didn’t bring a laptop on this trip, I used the hotel’s Wi-Fi service on many previous trips and it worked quite well. The W hotel chain prides itself on its Whatever/Whenever service and on this trip I had the opportunity to test this out 3 times, with varying results.
The first call was for poor television reception. An engineer was at my room in about 10 minutes and the problem fixed. Then another engineer showed up an hour later (talk about thorough). The second call: did they have a telephone number for United Airlines, to which the response was a curt “No.” I also had questions about the gym so I was transferred… to the Bliss 49 store. The woman there kindly transferred my call to the gym. The third call came the morning I was leaving, when I called and requested more Bliss lemon + sage body lotion. After an hour had passed, I wandered out into the hall and took one from the housekeeping cart. 90 minutes later, as I was literally walking out the door, the lotion arrived.
The Heartbeat restaurant is currently only open for breakfast. I started with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and a small pot of their excellent coffee, followed by two poached eggs and one of NYC’s finest toasted bagel with cream cheese. If you’re not really up for a huge meal, I would recommend going to the breakfast bar where you can grab a bagel (toasted if you wish) and coffee. There are also a number of excellent restaurants within walking distance of the hotel for lunch and dinner.
Despite a recently received facelift by most of the rooms – including mine – the W New York is sadly starting to show its age. While my room was clean and relatively comfortable, my closet smelled old and moldy. My stay was not quite up to how I remembered previous stays. Nonetheless, if you want a boutique hotel in midtown at a budget price (the W New York is the least expensive of the W hotels in NYC), then it remains a good option.
W New York 541 Lexington Avenue (at 49th) New York, New York 10022
Phone: +1 212 755-1200
Shannon McClatchey is a frequent business traveler and managing editor of Executive Road Warrior.