In New York, hoteliers striving for high style, average rates


NEW YORK — Here in the country's most lucrative hotel market, $300 is the new $200. And 200 square feet is, well, big.

With the city breaking its own records for annual visitors each year, hoteliers continue to either open new properties or reimagine older ones in an effort to draw visitors looking for something beyond the larger brands.

NY BOUTIQUE HOTEL mapAnd many of the newer properties are trying to go the boutique route, though with design motifs ranging from Belle Epoque to out-and-out futuristic, the term "boutique" is getting harder and harder to define, especially in Manhattan. (Click here or on the image for a larger view of a map of some of the newer boutique properties in New York.)

Two of the newer hotels that might best fit the "traditional boutique" bill are the Archer New York and the Nylo New York City.

The 180-room Archer opened last month in the rapidly developing Herald Square area and, like the Refinery Hotel down the block, includes nods to the neighborhood's garment industry, complete with lobby couches made of pinstripe suit material. Owned and operated by LodgeWorks, it includes a bar and restaurant run by New York restaurateur David Burke, which is why the restaurant is called David Burke Fabrick. It features a 3-foot by 4-foot peach-hued Himalayan salt brick mounted above the kitchen opening.

The smallish rooms go the industrial-chic route and include kimono robes, his-and-hers slippers (decorated with lipstick and a mustache, respectively) and New York-centric books, while the 100-person rooftop lounge has "touch me" views of the Empire State Building to the south. Mid-July weekend rates start at about $250 a night.

The Nylo New York is a recent addition to a chainlet that also has three properties in Texas and another in Rhode Island. The 282-room Upper West Side property was originally an apartment building when constructed in 1910 before eventually becoming On the Ave hotel.

Paying homage to the neighborhood's jazz and arts pedigree, the hotel reopened last October under Highgate Hotels management after reclaiming part of its shaded exterior entryway for a multizoned lobby with library-like sections and a bar called Locl.

The property's 16th-floor rooftop bar provides views stretching from the Hudson River to Central Park, while the hotel includes an outlet from West Village dim sum specialist RedFarm.

Mid-July weekend rates range from about $220 a night to $375 for the Skyline Penthouse.

Those looking for something a little more futuristic can check out the 230-room CitizenM New York Times Square. More or less following the lead of fellow European-based micro-room specialist Yotel, Amsterdam-based CitizenM made its U.S. debut in midtown Manhattan in March. The hyperdesigned 7-foot by 20-foot standard rooms include frosted-glass capsule-type bathrooms, violet soft lighting and room controls via tablet computer.

The futurism extends to the lobby, with splashy colors and registration pods (no front desk) overseen by a genial staff ready to help those not quite prepared for autonomous check-in. The 21st-story rooftop bar includes conversation-starters like its agoraphobia-inducing views (the outdoor patio extends right to the building's edges) and its wall-mounted moose head.

Mid-July rooms were selling for about $225 a night.

Novotel New York Times Square terraceFuturists can also head two blocks north on Broadway to Novotel New York Times Square. And while that hotel is neither new nor indie, the 480-room location gets credit for both an $85 million redo that was completed last September and its limited domestic brand exposure (it's the only North American hotel under Accor's Novotel badge).

The hotel eschews the industrial-chic motif altogether, as the architectural firm of Stonehill & Taylor (which also redid the Nylo) plays up the seventh-floor lobby view over Broadway for all it's worth. Massive windows separate the 8,000-square-foot indoor area from a 7,500-square-foot outdoor patio that affords straight-shot views of Times Square to the south, and the "zoned" public space enables adults to nurse cocktails within earshot and eyeshot of a high-end gaming area where the kids can play on large flat-screen TVs. Rates start at about $265 a night.

The aforementioned hoteliers are looking to find room to roam underneath the $500- to $1,000-a-night rates many of Manhattan's luxury hotels charge, as demand for accommodations within the city's largest borough continues to rise. With this city attracting a record 54.3 million visitors last year, the Big Apple remains easily the country's most expensive hotel market. Last year, the city's occupancy rate of 85% edged out Oahu's 84% rate, while New York's average room rate of about $259 a night was 24% more than No. 2 Oahu's, according to STR.

In order not to stray too far above that room-night average, some hoteliers are opting for style over size in Manhattan districts not traditionally associated with lodging options. Two examples are the Marlton Hotel and Ludlow Hotel, both owned by Sean MacPherson and the BD Hotels team (the Jane, Bowery, Mercer and Greenwich hotels and the two Pod hotels).

Marlton New YorkThe Marlton, which was built on the eastern edge of the West Village in 1900 and once housed Beat Generation luminaries like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, reopened in September after a multimillion-dollar renovation of the 107-room property brought in a Parisian touch and played up the hotel's history with its detailed moldings, dark wood floors and lots of brass.

Rates start at about $235 a night for rooms that certainly qualify as cozy.

About a mile-and-a-half away, the MacPherson-BD Hotels team is soft-opening the Ludlow in a Lower East Side building whose prior developers walked away from the project about five years ago.

Stylistically, the 184-room Ludlow, a half-block south of Houston Street, combines industrial touches such as a brick-and-steel entryway with the warmer tones more often associated with properties such as the Marlton. The Ludlow includes Skybox Lofts that jut out from the rest of the building to provide three-sided window views of Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as a 1,000-square-foot Rock Star Suite that includes a 1,100-square-foot wrap-around patio.

Soft-opening rates start at $165 a night through August.

Farther south, in SoHo, the stylish and slightly quirky Broome Hotel pushes its room rates slightly above that $300 mark by using the supply-and-demand equation to its advantage.

Billing itself as New York's smallest hotel, the 14-room property was opened this past Valentine's Day by a quartet of local restaurateurs, replete with a French Quarter-influenced central courtyard, a 7-foot-wide conference room and a gift shop area that steps up from the lobby into a 6-foot-tall section where goods like glow-in-the-dark playing cards are sold and signs implore guests to "Watch your head, watch your cash." Rates start at about $350 a night.

Finally, there's the Be Hotel, which sits in a thankfully still-scruffy section of Chinatown and was carved out of a building that once housed a large Chinese restaurant and other assorted tenants.

The 40-room property, which opened in April, goes modern-conservative with grayish/violet-hued approach for its rooms, and it includes requisite tech items like iPod docks and USB-connectable lamps. The hotel also houses a few 460-square-foot Deluxe Lofts that have two bathrooms each and can sleep as many as six (those rates are about double the $260 starting rate for standard rooms).

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly. 

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