Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square Manhattan
Updated: Feb 20, 2014
id: sleeked-up high-rise chain hotel
cool detail: swimming pool
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: Sometimes tweaking a hotel brand works. This 48-story tower opened as the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in 1989, a modest hotel with upscale aspirations, just like its double-branded name.
Fast-forward to 2013. The chain, an Intercontinental link, is now the Crowne Plaza, and this glass high rise, which looks like a juke box on steroids, was among the company’s first to undergo an extreme makeover in 2009.
The results? Thumbs up. The interior is contemporary and sleek but not edgy enough to scare the tourists and business people who frequent it. I like the way the overhead lights change colors in the check-in zone. And I really like the generous seating areas, with sleek, high-back sofas and hard wood floors, including the spacious lounge where you can hang out without ordering a drink. (Too bad the cocktail tables always seem to be littered with sandwich wrappers and coffee cups left by previous occupants.)
The lobby isn’t serene; the bar’s decibel level leaps off the charts, and giant candies zoom in your face when you look out the window (the M & M store’s gigantic video screens are directly across the street). But hey, it’s Times Square.
Overheard: “Which conference are you with?”
Rooms: The room I saw was surprisingly quiet given the lobby’s riot of noise and color. True, it was on the 37th floor. It had a conventional chain hotel layout, with a short entry hall opposite the freshly appointed white bathroom, and a large sleeping area with two full beds, a big desk with a leather swivel chair by the window and an ample wing chair in blue and gold stripe. The beds (rooms have either kings or two doubles, no queens) had the requisite rectangular headboard (white tufting framed in wood in this instance), white sheets with a folded blue coverlet at the foot and a cool blue mid-century-mod-patterned carpet.
On the minus side: the flatpanel TV sat atop a scuffed bureau, and the ceiling felt low. But I liked the floor-to-almost-ceiling curtains in an oddly daring brown-and-white horizontal stripe.
Detail: Hallways look like a sunrise with yellow walls, sunburst mirrors and wildly patterned carpeting in blue and gold.
Food and drink: The lobby bar, on the second floor, is rarely empty and has a Times Square vibe thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a color-drenched forest of buildings and billboards. The nearby window-lined restaurant, in contrast, is contemporary and cool, with white banquettes, blue cornice lighting and lacquered wood tables lit by votives. I supped on a salmon burger nicely presented on a square white plate and accompanied by excellent oven-roasted potatoes, a generous cup of guacamole and – yuck! – a dollop of mayo atop the burger (I prefer my fat on the side, please). Coffee came in a large French press pot that while attractive had more plastic than metal for our tastes.
But the restaurant is pricey and feels like a hotel restaurant, not a hang-out that would attract locals.
Amenities: A branch of the New York Sports Club is on the premises, housing a full gym and pool, available for $10 a day, free to Priority Club members. (Note to lap swimmers: just one lane is roped off and the waters get crowded.) For security purposes, elevators won’t ascend without a room key card. WiFi ($19.95 a day). Pets under 25 lbs. allowed, $25 a day.
Surroundings: Superb if you’re interested in Times Square, particularly its northern reaches. Broadway theaters, restaurants and shops are steps away as are Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Paley Center Museum of Radio and Television and Fifth Avenue shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and the NBA Store, if you don’t mind walking a few blocks. Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, the Empire State Building and Macy’s are slightly further afield as are, in the opposite direction, Central Park and Time Warner Center’s upmarket mall (shops include Williams Sonoma, Sephora, Bebe, L’Occitane and restaurants Landmarc, Bouchon Bakery and Thomas Keller’s Per Se). Lincoln Center is two stops on the #1 train. The subway station is a block away, and bus stops are nearby.
Back story: This 48-story tower was built from the bottom up in 1989, part of Times Square’s rehabilitation effort. Like most new hotels in the area, the ground floor is a walk-through, and the action starts above ground with the second-floor lobby. As mentioned above, the hotel was refurbished – and recast as a more upscale business hotel – between 2008 and 2009, a change that jettisoned an old coffee shop, altered the look of the lobby, bar and restaurant and upgraded the appearance of the rooms.
Keep in mind: Even with blackout shades and curtains pulled, this is a brightly lighted neighborhood. Rooms on low floors face buildings and can be dark. We saw frayed edges on the lobby's blue velvet high-back chairs. But the lobby's hard-wood floor, scuffed on an earlier visit, looked much better when I stopped by recently.
What We Saw: