By Terry Trucco
At a glance: This small, stylish Midtown East boutique opened in a brand new building in 2011 as Hyatt 48Lex. But with just 116 rooms and a cool, independent vibe, it never felt like a full-throttle Hyatt.
Turns out it wasn’t. In 2015 it morphed into Hotel 48Lex. You won’t get World of Hyatt points. But being one-of-a-kind suits this pleasing property that feels like a small, clubby business hotel with a kitchenette in every room and agreeable services like in-room spa treatments .
With floor-to-ceiling windows – unheard of in the older hotels in the area – the hotel looks chic and serves up heart-pounding I’m-in-New-York moments.
You check in informally with an attendant who escorts you to your room. With none smaller than 370 square feet, rooms are spacious by New York standards.
But what sets Hotel 48Lex apart is the second floor Lounge, open to guests only. Outfitted with a gas-jet fireplace and glammed up since its Hyatt days with stylish new sofas and swivel chairs, it’s a great place to hang if your room gets too confining or you want something to nibble. A day in the Lounge starts with a complimentary Scandinavian-style breakfast buffet (cured meats, cheese, parfaits with seasonal fruit, hard boiled eggs, croissants and jams), moves on to fruit, snacks, tea and coffee (the brazenly state-of-the-art WMF Bistro coffeemaker is a beauty), and culminates at 5 pm with an hour-long wine and cheese reception. After that the Lounge morphs into a cocktail lounge, with crafted cocktails, spirits and wine no longer complimentary but still just for guests. And if you crave something more substantial, Lexington Brass, a stylish brasserie adjoins the hotel.
The hotel makes the most of its modernist white walls, displaying changing artworks in the Lounge and contemporary paintings and sculpture throughout the building. In theory, it’s easier to create an up-to-the moment hotel when you’re starting it from scratch. Not all succeed, but I like much that Lex48 has done.
Rooms: For a hotel in the heart of Manhattan’s business district, rooms are surprisingly romantic – if seeing a cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows gets your heart pumping. I saw two rooms, including a corner suite – the hotel’s showpiece. I liked the entry hall with floor tiles that look like wood and a dark wood butler’s pantry to the side, well stocked with wine, china, glassware and the surprise amenity: a Fisher-Paykel dish drawer dishwasher.
A small, carpeted sitting room followed, contemporary-cozy with a sleek steel-colored sofa and a handsome desk with a pull-out writing table — sufficiently businesslike, in other words, for a meeting place.
The sleeping area’s centerpiece was a white queen-size bed backed by a handsome, chocolate leather headboard enveloped by a larger gray velvet rectangle that reminded us of men’s suit fabric. A brown wool throw was folded at the foot, and a flatpanel TV opposite the bed seemed to float in front of the window (okay, it was attached to the wall – I looked — but the effect was intriguing).
The white bathroom, hidden behind a sliding frosted glass door, felt spacious with a large, glass-fronted stall shower and generous washstand. And instead of classic white terry, a suave black bathrobe hung on the wall.
The standard room I saw was similar, sans sitting room and corner views. Like the suite, it featured a good-looking closet armoire, smaller than you’d expect in a luxury-minded hotel. But kudos to whoever decided to stash the extra pillows in black fabric bags. I’ve often wondered how many times spare pillows and blankets hit the floor before being tossed into a closet.
Food and drink: Lexington Brass, the bustling, ground-floor brasserie billeted in the hotel, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and handles room service. Overseen by the owners of Abe & Arthur’s, a hip restaurant in the Meatpacking District, Lexington Brass serves breakfast, lunch and dinner — and a mean burger during the gap between lunch and dinner,
Amenities: The basemen fitness room is well equipped but windowless. As mentioned above, complimentary fruit, nibbles and coffee are offered all day in the second floor lounge. WiFi ($16 a day). In-room spa treatments available from Suite Spa, a company that proves spa services to hotels.
Surroundings: A superb location if you want midtown. The hotel is a short walk from Grand Central Station, the Waldorf Astoria, scores of midtown offices and Rockefeller Center (Saks Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the outdoor ice skating rink and Top of the Rock). The subway is a short walk away so it’s easy to zip uptown or downtown. Times Square and the Theater District are a straight shot to the west – walkable if you like walking but more likely you’ll be taking a cab (allow time; midtown traffic is heavy). Bus stops are also nearby.
Back story: Hotel 48Lex is a rarity – a new building in midtown built from the ground up as a hotel. It opened in August 2011 as Hyatt 48Lex. It became an independent property with an independent name in September 2015.
Keep in mind: Though open to guests only, the second floor Lexicon Lounge, which should be an oasis, can get noisy and crowded.
517 Lexington Avenue at 48th Street
New York,, NY 10017
212 888 2900