The Hotel: Grace
On a Map: 125 West 45th Street (between Broadway and 6th Ave.)
The Neighborhood: Grace Hotel, by Spanish hotel brand Room Mates, is in the heart of Times Square—near all the mega shops and Broadway shows (a crowd was eagerly standing outside the doors for West Side Story when I walked by on a Tuesday afternoon). Although the area is always bustling with activity, I should note that this was particularly the case when I visited on St. Patrick’s Day. Holidays are hectic in New York, and I dodged through walls of New Yorkers and tourists alike clad in green t-shirts celebrating the holiday. If you are into pubs, there is one right next door to the hotel, which seemed to have a line outside a mile long when I passed by.
First Impressions: The hotel’s lobby is small but inviting, with orange wallpaper with flecks of gold on one wall and a bird’s-eye-view photo of Midtown and Lower Manhattan on the opposite wall. The coolest part of the lobby is, of all things, the reception desk. The typical check-in area has an interesting spin with a newsstand-type design. Guests can even purchase the periodicals displayed on the stand (think such mags as InStyle and The New Yorker). For the ultimate customized experience, guests can even pick mini-fridge-sized beverages from the newsstand to stock in their guest room fridge, as well as candy and chips.
Yet another cool touch: This hotel might be known for the pool in the lobby. I should mention that I did briefly see the hotel last month when they hosted an after party during Fashion Week for Spanish designer David Elfin.
There are several questions that come into play when thinking about the logistics of having an actual pool in an area where, one would think, people would prefer to stay dry. The pool is, however, sectioned off and appears to be the focal point for several other common areas in the hotel, including the lounge/Continental breakfast area. There is also swim-up service from the hotel’s bar.
A Room With a View?: As I have said in past blog entries, most of Midtown New York is not the best place to get picturesque views. I saw room number 1601, which had a king-size bed. To maximize the space, the bed is elevated so luggage can go underneath. I am a big fan of retro, and the rooms at Grace can best be described as sleek and minimalist with a mod flair—even down to the 70’s-style wallpaper.
Is It Worth It?: I think so! This hotel is a good option for young budget-conscious travelers—be it couples, families, singles or business travelers—who want a cool place to stay but also want to take advantage of everything the heart of the Big Apple has to offer.