Unlike any other hotel in the city, the Roger Smith is one of the most personable and homely properties in New York. It may not be as fashionable or 'bling' as many of the island's hotels, but guests coming here are not looking for that anyway. The real interest is the comfortable, familiar accommodation, the convenient location, friendly service, historical interiors and original artwork (more about that in 'To Know'). Perfect for all types of traveller of any age, you'll be sure to get a warm welcome and enjoy a memorable stay at this unique property.
Situated on Lexington Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets, The Roger Smith is almost equidistant from Central and Bryant Parks, both within walking distance. Also a short stroll away is the following: the Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, MoMA, Grand Central Station, Times Square and the shops of Fifth and Madison Avenues. There are several subway stations close to the hotel whose lines will take you uptown, downtown and to Brooklyn. JFK is 15 miles away, La Guardia 7 miles and Newark 17.
The hotel has been a family-run business ever since it opened in 1928. The current owner, a certain Mr. Knowles, is an artist by profession and his works, which include paintings and sculptures, are found throughout the hotel in the public spaces and in the rooms. Not only do the works make of the hotel a kind of gallery but they also help to create that homely ambiance that guests come back for time and time again.
The exhibition, as you could justifiably call this hotel, starts from the exterior with two abstract sculptures placed either side of the door, each in front of red columns with raised carvings. It continues inside into the circular lobby with a series of further sculptures and modern paintings upon the walls. The reception desk, which is straight ahead of you as you walk in, was, on our visit, under the helm of a delightfully charming young lady you was polite and courteous. The front of her desk features a series of metal works embedded in its front (which actually continue round the room) while the surface is of marble. Behind are the old fashioned key/message boxes for each of the 130 rooms and there are a couple of iMacs here too for guests' use. Around the edges of the hall are several peach coloured paisley print armchairs while a few plants breathe life into the space. There are a couple of excellent original lifts to take you to your room, with the mail shoot still there between them. The rest of the public spaces are in excellent condition and the corridors wide and well-lit. The hotel offers complimentary wifi throughout and a collection of DVDs for use in the rooms. While there is no fitness facility within the hotel, guests can buy a pass for the New York Sports Club or Manhattan Sports Club at $15 and $45 respectively. There is a car and driver available to guests for transfers.
The Roger Smith offers four categories of room: standard, junior suite, one bedroom suite and deluxe suite. It is a little difficult to compare them as each is individually and uniquely decorated, however they do have similar amenities. The décor is very traditional and in some cases a bit of a mish mash and would be best described as something that you may well find in your grandmother's house, perhaps in the country. Much of the wallpaper and upholstery features floral or tartan motifs, while much of the furniture is antique, from the early 20th century. The basic rooms have queen beds with a skirt to match the curtains (and sometimes the chair upholstery). You'll find a writing desk and chair, cabinet concealing the fridge on top of which is the flatscreen television (those rooms with a regular television should get new flatscreens soon, bedside tables and various other storage units, lamps and 'objets' depending on the room. Always present though are books and artwork and/or photography. Other amenities include alarm clock, telephone, iron and ironing board, DVD player and coffee/tea maker. The standard rooms don't have a safe but you can leave valuables at reception. The bathrooms are a little small and have bathtubs with regular showers, hairdryer, a small basket of toiletries and make-up mirror. The junior suites have seating areas within the bedroom and enjoy corner positions within the building and so better street views. The one bedroom suites boast separate living/dining areas as well as kitchenettes and pull-out sofas, while the deluxe suites enjoy a second single bedroom (quite pokey) and iPod docking stations. These bigger rooms also have a larger collection of art and antique furniture such as series of black and white photography and large oak dining tables.
Lily's Bar and Restaurant is a popular hangout for both guests and locals and serves food throughout the day including a brunch at the weekends. The room itself is painted a warm red colour and is covered with bright, colourful, abstract canvases and murals by Mr. Knowles and also displays some more of his sculptures. The best time to visit is during the evening when not only is there more of a crowd, but a jazz group performs. The breakfast menu features eggs, waffles, pancakes, continental fare and extras such as sausage and bacon. The selection for lunch is fairly restricted with a few salads, sandwiches and three main dishes from which to choose while the dinner menu gives a few more options including crispy black bass and roasted Long Island duck breast. The bar serves a few cocktails and wines by the glass and has a few snacky dishes such as lamb meatballs and lobster fondue to enjoy while sipping away. A pre-theatre menu at $30 is offered between 5pm and 7pm, excluding Sundays.
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