Night Times Square (formerly Stay)
Updated: Feb 27, 2014
cool detail: lobby fish tank
By Terry Trucco
Heads up: Stay was renamed Night Times Square in March 2013 and will be renovated upstairs and downstairs in the coming months. For now, rooms and lobby look the same as before. And if a recent visit is any indication, the place jumps come evening (guests holding cocktails had spilled out of the restaurant and bar and were standing by the hotel's elevators when I visited recently).
At a glance: This sleek, slick Times Square hotel (debut: 2008) is like a nightclub that swallowed a dorm: Rooms are teeny, but public spaces, including the lobby, restaurant and pulsating bar, sprawl (by Manhattan standards).
The lobby, a minimal, ice-white lair, reminds me of a very chic freezer or an igloo with amusements. Everywhere you look you see cool, white lacquered surfaces. (Tinted lights change the overall hue -- blue for much of the year, green at the holidays.)
Besides the requisite floor-to-ceiling fish tank, a calling card at hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s properties, the two Seventies-inflected sitting rooms boast mirrored walls, side tables lighted by votives and white leather club chairs, including several that rock – literally.
But the action takes place at the restaurant, a branch of the hip downtown haunt Aspen, and bar, quiet by day, thumping by night.
The elevators, which bridge the sitting room and restaurant, are small and s-l-o-w, reminding me that boutique hotels offer trade-offs -- style vs. out-and-out comfort. And that said, Night Times Square's got style.
Rooms: Teeny. The bed – it was hard to tell if it was a queen or a double -- gobbled up nearly all the floor space in the first room we saw. (I later saw a larger room with a bona-fide queen-size bed, and though there was enough space to stash a suitcase, two people would find it a tight fit).
That said both rabbit hutches were clean, clever and chic. The color scheme derives from the artwork, a framed black-and-white photograph of a New York City punctuated by an orange-tinted taxi. The beds sported black wood headboards and white high-thread-count sheets with embroidered tangerine stripes.
A dramatic black curtain shielded the shallow closet, and glamorous tangerine silk curtains bracketed the view-free windows (black-out shades darkened the rooms satisfactorily for sleeping). Also on view in the smaller room: the classic space-saving trick -- nightstand on one side of the bed, desk on the other.
Best features: a full-length mirror and a wall-mounted 37-inch flatpanel TV opposite the bed. We liked the ladder-back desk chair’s faux reptile seat cover in muted tangerine, too.
Food and drink: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, drinks, drinks are served in the Aspen Social Club, an outpost of the clubby Aspen restaurant in the Flatiron district.
The wood-paneled bar, a hip take on the rustic/glam Colorado resort, looks cooler than most of its Times Square counterparts (unless you view it as theme park Aspen).
Kudos to the restaurant’s glassed-in faux forest, a neat take on city-meets-nature. I also like the raw hardwood floors, boot-leather banquettes and blanched antlers suspended from the ceiling. All-American tapas dominate the menu, and it’s easy to rack up a bill trying this and that.
My companion and I supped pre-theater, sharing a crab cake with apple fennel salad ($10), a shrimp quesadilla with guacamole ($10), cornmeal trout taco ($9), beet salad with goat cheese ($8) and four mini cupcakes ($6). The crab cake was the showstopper, the beet salad the disappointment (too much cheese, not enough beets).
And while the food was undeniably fun, don’t come here if you’re starved unless you plan to order everything on the menu. (Aspen also provides room service.)
Amenities: There’s no fitness center but guests receive free passes to New York Sports Club. No spa but guests have access to the Chopra Center and Spa at the Dream hotel. Complimentary newspapers. Bose CD player with iPod cradle in rooms. L’Occitane toiletries. WiFi ($9.94 a day).
Surroundings: The hotel is on a boring block next to a Pig n’ Whistle pub, but Times Square and its garden of delights – or horrors, depending on your tastes – are on your doorstep. The Broadway Theater District, mainstream restaurants and attractions galore, like Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium and the ESPN store, are nearby. The Palace Theater (currently home to West Side Story) and TKTS discount ticket booth are around the corner.
Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, the Empire State Building and Macy’s are only slightly further afield as are Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art and Fifth Avenue shopping (Saks Fifth Avenue, the NBA Store, et al). Lincoln Center is a short hop on the subway. The subway station is steps away as are bus stops.
Back story: One of the newer links in Vikram Chatwal’s growing chain of trendy boutique hotels, the hotel follows the formula perfected at Dream, Time and the original Night Hotel on West 45th Street – lots of public space and evening entertainments but teeny rooms. Before it became stylish – and monosyllabic – in 2008, Stay was a Quality Inn, and the compact dimensions of the rooms and bathrooms are pure QI. Fortunately, the décor, style and fittings are new and much improved. Wyndham hotels acquired Chatwal's small boutique empire in 2011 and is behind Stay's rebranding as Night Times Square.
Keep in mind: The unisex bathroom near the restaurant has urinals. Need I say more? Yes, the room has a lock, but -- sorry to generalize – the kind of people who use urinals don’t always use locks, and both urinals were in use when I walked in (I am a lock-using, non-urinal kind of girl). Gross! There’s a perfectly nice women’s restroom around the corner; why don’t they just call the unisex a men’s room and leave it at that? Or make locking the door mandatory.
The room with two beds pictured on the web site is lots bigger than anything I saw.
If you're planning a stay, ask what stage the renovation is in if you're worried about noise.
What We Saw: