There’s a lot to love about Times Square. The bright lights of Broadway, the scrolling marquees, endless restaurants and bars, TKTS booth and on any given occasion, a live street performance. Times Square is the epicenter of New York – the convergence of everything – the mecca of Manhattan.
Tourists come in droves, book Times Square hotels and spend the majority of their time walking Broadway and 7th, snapping photos and looking for anyone of the morning talk show hosts on their way to Rockefeller Center. Those of us in the know, though, know to stay elsewhere. Times Square can be chaotic to the nth degree and at the end of the night, when even you have to get some shut eye in the city that never sleeps, the last thing you want are blinking lights from the billboard across the street shining through your hotel room window. When I booked a last-minute at a Time Square hotel I was admittedly hesitant. My hesitation, however, quickly turned to eagerness when I walked into the Renaissance New York Times Square.
Located in the heart of Times Square, this New York hotel is, quite literally, in the middle of it all. At the corner of 7th and W. 48th Street, and one block from Broadway, the hotel is in the perfect location for walking to 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and the subway. The best part? You’d never know you were staying in Time Square.
Check-in and Lobby
If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the entrance to the hotel. The glass doors are hidden under an awning that helps shade the hotel from the bright lights of Times Square. Note your surroundings: the famous M&M store is right next door and thanks to the giant green M&M on 48th street, it’s hard to miss your mark. This hidden element, however, is the part of the allure of the Renaissance Times Square. Walking through the glass doors is a retreat from the chaos of the streets.
The first floor entrance is dimly lit to help level the mood and a quick chat with the check-in desk will have you on your way up to the official ‘lobby’ level. The lobby of this hotel is part jazz club, part business conference room. The lobby was recently redone to appeal to various personalities, but with a common theme of serenity. The lounge area is set in dark wood with dark blue, purple and brown furniture throughout. There are alcoves (dubbed the “technology niche”) with computers for those who want to work on the hotel’s free WiFi system, or you can plug in at the lobby’s workstation — a long brown table with outlets at each chair, positioned perfectly across from the lobby bar and in front of a large flat-screen TV.
Order from the bar menu or just relax with a cup of coffee and your laptop. A blend of funk, jazz and pop music rotate over the sound system throughout the day, providing a mellow vibe for visitors.The Rooms
The 310 guest rooms are spread throughout 26 floors of the building. I slid my key into room 1903 and entered the hotel room overlooking the giant billboard of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ in Times Square.
The guest rooms are available with king-sized or two double beds. Complimentary coffee an tea is available and the mini-bar is stocked with snacks (candy, peanuts and Power Bars) and select liquors. WiFi is available in all rooms for a fee ($16.95 a day), or free of charge if you’re a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Platinum rewards member.
Beds feature Revive bedding and organic Aveda products are available in the bathrooms. The decor is simple and understated – dark wood with gold and blue accents – but let’s be honest, you’re not in New York to spend time in your hotel room. The best part? All rooms are soundproof, which means the hustle and bustle of Times Square remains on the street, and not as background noise in your room.
There’s no turn-down service at the hotel, but on occasion you’ll come back to your room and find a few chocolates on the pillow.
With all the dining options in New York it’s hard to justify dining in the hotel, but thanks to the renovations that included the opening of R Lounge at Two Times Square and a partnership with Blue Ribbon Restaurants, it’s no shame to hang in the hotel for dinner and drinks one night.
R Lounge boasts panoramic views of Times Square and the Broadway theater district, and features unique offerings from Blue Ribbon and a custom created menu from the hotel chef (I highly suggest the tempura green beans, french onion soup, burgers and calamari). A perfect start to your New York night can start with a martini or glass of wine in R Lounge before hitting the NYC scene. Be careful, though, because the lounge has a way of sucking you in. If you didn’t get tickets to a Broadway show, you can be sure you’ll see plenty of sights from one of the window seats at R Lounge.
In addition to the bar area, the VIVID lounge is open daily for breakfast serving a buffet or a la carte menu. One thing to note:
The hotel doesn’t have a concierge level, but rewards members can enjoy free continental breakfasts in R Lounge in the morning.
While I didn’t take advantage of the amenities, the hotel does offer a fitness center and boardroom facilities. A concierge is on duty 24 hours a day to help with show tickets, transportation or dinner reservations.
The Bottom Line
As far as Marriott’s go, this hotel has a lot of soul. While the guest rooms could use a bit of a touch up, the renovations the hotel made to the check-in, lobby and restaurant areas far outweigh the need for a fresh coat of paint in the rooms (though we suspect that’s coming soon). This little hotel on 48th Street is nothing short of a hidden gem – a secret hideaway from the chaos and commotion of Times Square, but a perfection location for New York visitors who want to be in the heart of it all.