Dream New York
Updated: Jul 10, 2016
id: high-concept boutique hotel
cool detail: large cylindrical aquarium in the lobby
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: When Dream New York opened in 2004, the manager described it to me as a Surrealist playground for adults. Backdropped by hand-drawn murals of nudes, the lobby was black, white and mirrored with a crystal chandelier shaped like Captain Hook’s sailing ship suspended above the check-in desk and just beyond, an enormous, oddball bronze of Neptune, a Tsarina and a madonna and child. And that was before you got to the curiosity cases laden with stuffed ravens and skulls.
It never jelled, which is probably why they kept tweaking it over the years. Finally, they gave up, and in 2016 they started all over.
The new lobby is still playful but feels more like a hotel with an imposing but stylish check-in desk where the bronze statue used to stand. Fanciful love seats and velvet benches sprouting chair backs hug the new wool-paneled walls laden with colorful abstract paintings instead of nudes. Given the lobby’s more spare contemporary look, the previous incarnation’s lone survivor — a gigantic cylindrical aquarium stocked with exotic beauties — takes its rightful place as a breathtaking centerpiece. What used to be adult is now more grown up, more conventional but less confusing and definitely more comfortable. But I miss the sailing ship chandelier. (And if you're curious, there's one last photo of the bronze of our photo slideshow.
Rooms: Refurbished with a completely new look in 2015, the rooms are minimal and chic with one flamboyant feature — a built-in floral canopy that backs the bed in the larger rooms (the floral print simply backdrops the bed in smaller rooms). The print reminded me of the celebratory flowered garlands seen in India. Decorative pillows, throws and furniture in gray, eggplant and chartreuse pick up colors from the florals which stand out against the creamy white walls.
Suites are spacious, but rooms are small — from 150 to 285 square feet. Still, the new decor is more upbeat than the minimal blue and white rooms it replaced. And beds feature allergen-free pilot mattresses and feather duvets.
Bathrooms are small, often cramped, with tub/shower combos, tiled in Dream blue and white.
Food and drink: Lots. The main attraction if you’re hungry is an outpost of Serafina, Manhattan’s stylish chain trattoria with a whimsical David Rockwell-inspired interior (mosaic images of flames over the pizza oven, upholstered banquettes). In keeping with Dream’s whimsical thee, Fellini movies are projected onto a wall. Breakfast is offered, but pastas and pizzas rule, the latter big enough for two to share if you’re not starved. Arriving post theater, we split a salad and pizza with eggplant, mozzarella, goat cheese, arugula and red pepper, drowning in olive oil. There’s a sidewalk café during warm months.
But true to its name, Dream caters mainly to nightlife. PHD Terrace, a new midtown outpost of the successful PHD Lounge at Dream Downtown, is a multilevel roof bar built for rain or shine. The Rickey, the freshly designed bar opening off the lobby, features crafted cocktails designed by celebrity mixologist Johnny Swet.
Amenities: No fitness room on the premises, but guests can use the nearby Crunch Fitness Gym. Free WiFi in the lobby, bar and rooftop (fees apply in rooms).
Surroundings: A boring block in Midtown West, but steps away from good stuff, including Roundabout Theater’s Studio 54, the Late Night with Stephen Colbert studio, the up-market mall shops and restaurants of Time Warner Center (Williams Sonoma, Hugo Boss, J Crew and Bouchon Bakery), Broadway theaters, City Center and Central Park. Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Fifth Avenue shopping are also nearby. Bus stops are across the street -- and the subway is a short walk away.
Back story: This gorgeous 1895 Beaux Arts building was a run-down wreck when Vikram Chatwal, the playboy hotelier with the Wharton degree, got his hands on it in 2004 and gave it the full boutique treatment. Chatwal, whose specialty is trendy, buzzy boutique hotels with one-word monikers, conceived Dream as a surrealist playground for adults. In 2013, Dream New York and its branches came under the management of the Wyndham Group. Night, a sister hotel begun by Chatwal, also joined Wyndham. Following a top to refurbishment in 2015 and 2016, Dream New York looks more cohesive and put together than ever and almost, but not quite, as sexily chic as Dream Downtown.
Keep in mind: The elevators, though of differing sizes, are snug; the smallest of the bunch may be the tiniest I’ve ever boarded.
What We Saw: