Updated: Oct 19, 2012
cool detail: Broadway theater on the premises
At a glance: The lobby of this masculine, all-business Times Square behemoth, a 52-story glass box built in 1990, reminds us of a set for a Batman movie. Outfitted with midnight marble columns, gleaming chrome sconces and polished black floors, it oozes Gotham style and is retro, Deco and futuristic all at once.
It’s also showing its age (scuffed wood, dulled marble) but remains impressive, if big, impersonal hotels are your style.
To our eyes, the Millenium courts guests who want a conventional room in Times Square, no surprises and not much else or better yet, are attending a convention here (conference halls abound, including the stylish digs of the adjoining Hudson Theater).
The hotel certainly doesn’t fashion itself an informal gathering place. How else to explain the lobby’s pint-size seating area? Suits, flight crews and tourists clutching Starbucks cups have jammed this teeny space whenever we've visited. Leather swivel chairs abound in the clubby lounge across the hallway, albeit for the price of a drink.
Still, as with many large hotels, seek and ye shall find. The little lounge on the third floor is the ideal place to peruse the paper or your iPhone in peace, provided a meeting isn’t in session in the adjoining conference hall.
Rooms: The Millenium’s 638 rooms, revamped in 2006, range from big-enough-for-two-people to expansive with drop-dead views.
The room we saw, dressed in warm woods and rich shades of white, black and gold, reminded us of a Chinese lacquer box. A commanding tufted headboard abutted a sponged gold wall, and we liked the Chinoiserie inflections, like the Asian medallions woven into the sheer curtains. The large businesslike desk featured a pullout writing table and a leather chair. A flatscreen TV sat on a scuffed dresser, and the 31st story floor-to-ceiling window displayed a wow-inducing Times Square cityscape.
The black and white bathroom, small but efficient, had a marble vanity, but the sink had a crack the size of the Grand Canyon.
Food and drink: Restaurant Charlotte, a sprawling, wood-lined dining room with windows overlooking scrappy 44th Street, serves seasonal, serviceable American food at Times Square prices, ie not cheap. We lunched late on a quiet Saturday afternoon in the lounge, a pleasant if outdated room adjoining the lobby, with black leather club chairs and round wood tables (ours was scuffed) that look onto 44th street.
Our turkey/bacon club ($16), a generous if generic sandwich served with roasted blue potato chips, seemed a popular choice. The only other diner, a woman in a business suit working an iPhone, ordered the same thing.
Amenities: The hotel adjoins the Hudson Theater, a small Broadway theater often rented out for fashion shows, parties and weddings (we saw a very happy bride on one visit). The fitness center is large and (bonus) has windows overlooking the street. WiFi ($10.95 a day). Pets up to 30 lbs. stay free of charge (fees apply to heavier animals).
Surroundings: This is about as close as you can get to Times Square short of rolling out a sleeping bag on 42nd Street. Broadway theaters, restaurants and sights like Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Odditorium are steps away. The New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, Midtown shopping and the Empire State Building are also within easy reach. Lincoln Center is three subway stops away. Multiple subway stations and bus stops are nearby.
Back story: The Millenium opened in April 1990 as the Hotel Macklowe, named for real estate maven Harry Macklowe who developed it, though not without a whiff of controversy. Several old buildings were torn down without the proper permits in 1985 to clear land for the new skyscraper. Macklowe paid the city a $2 million fine, according to newspaper stories from the time, and the hotel opened without a glitch. But Macklowe lost his hotel during the real estate recession of the 1990s.
The rechristened Millenium is now part of the Millenium Group, which has hotels in the UK, the Middle East and Asia. We first stayed here shortly after it opened. The imposing lobby today looks much the same although there was much more seating a decade ago (hint, hint). And while the new Asian-esque rooms are appealing, the originals, in black and tan with Deco inflections, were more in tune with the building's neo-Deco style.
Keep in mind: The hotel is impersonal and showing its age. Though some staff we encountered were attentive, the overall feeling is of indifference.
What We Saw: