We're kind of glad that this hotel sits rather inconspicuously in the heart of Midtown Manhattan as that means that not everyone knows about it and we can have it all to ourselves! OK, we'll share it with you, but don't shout about it from the roofs. This loosely literary-themed hotel not only enjoys a great location for tourists, especially first-timers, but it also combines spacious, contemporary rooms (most of which have balconies), a trendy restaurant/bar and a laid back yet professional service all within a discrete, architecturally innovative setting. Although not a full service hotel it is certainly one to consider if you're visiting the city for the first time and looking for a well-located mid-range offering.
The hotel is situated on East 46th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, just a few minutes' walk from Grand Central Station. Also very close by are the popular shopping areas along Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues, as well as Central Park which is around fifteen minutes away on foot. The Rockefeller Center, Times Square, New York Public Library and Bryant Park are all also reachable on foot while getting to the rest of Manhattan is simple with several subway stations in the vicinity taking you Uptown, Downtown and to Brooklyn. JFK is 17 miles away, La Guardia 8 miles and Newark 17.
The hotel, which opened back in October 2010, gets its name from the former occupants of the space which is now filled by The Gotham, the Gotham Book Mart. In honour of the former store, there are over 1,000 books all over the hotel supplied by the non-profit organisation Housing Works, a charity which works with AIDS sufferers and the homeless. Available for purchase, the proceeds from the sales go back into Housing Works.
Before you step inside the hotel, look up and notice and architectural innovation of the building's shape. Just over half way up, the balconies, which stack up on each other like dominoes, start to regress gradually, along of course with the front of the building, creating a rather attractive effect. The casually dressed doormen will let you into the white marble-floored lobby and will also check you in. However don't waste your time looking for the welcome desk as there isn't one. Instead registration will be done at the long communal table and your key will be produced from the doorman's pocket! This relaxed, speedy approach may appeal to business men in a hurry but some others of you may prefer the traditional method. Either way, you can always relax with your complimentary glass of Italian red or white at the seating area in the front corner of the lobby where comfy armchairs and sofas await you as do newspapers, magazines and books on the coffee table. The flowers, bowl of apples and scattered books here and there (in a nod to the former bookshop) are nice touches.
As The Gotham is a relatively narrow building, there are no other common areas aside from the entrance hall. Wherever you go though you'll see that the hotel is in a great condition and is maintained very well. Unfortunately there are no wellness or fitness facilities at the hotel, however 3-day complimentary passes for the nearby New York Sports Club can be arranged. One advantage however of the hotel's shape is that there is a maximum of four rooms per floor meaning a high degree of discretion and tranquility. The staff we came across during our stay were pleasant and helpful and always had time for a chat. The hotel has a computer for guests' use although if you have brought your laptop then you can make use of the complimentary wifi. If you have your own car with you then the doormen will be only too glad to park this for you in a secure car park.
The 66 rooms that make up The Gotham are placed into four categories: 1, 2, 3 or skyline. In all honesty there is little difference between the numbered categories, with rooms in the second and third category only slightly bigger and higher up the building. Taking a room in the third category doesn't guarantee either a balcony (which most rooms have anyway) or a street view. The bedrooms are fairly spacious and decorated soberly but tastefully. They have dark wood queen or king beds dressed in 400-count linens and matching bedside tables with a selection of reading material from Housing Works. At the foot of the bed is a long desk with a speaker panel and lamp while underneath is a closet with the fully- stocked minibar. A full size closet is also found in the room in which are a safe, umbrella and bathrobes. The rooms' other amenities include a flatscreen television, telephone and snack tray. Many rooms have huge floor-to-ceiling windows which lead on to a balcony overlooking East 46th Street or an interior courtyard. Try and get a room as high up as you can for the best views although the feeling of being drowned by the surrounding skyscrapers is still enthralling. The bathrooms, while relatively not as spacious as the rooms, are extremely well-appointed and feature stylish chrome fixtures, walk-in monsoon showers with Italian glass mosaic tiling and C.O. Bigelow toiletries. The largest rooms, the skylines, enjoy a larger surface area, have balconies and an extra sofa in the room.
The hotel's restaurant bar is called Tenpenny and is located to the back of the building on the ground floor. The name is derived from an American building term which indicates a three inch nail and evokes the 'construction' of a new restaurant by chef Chris Cipollone and Jeffrey Tascarella. Opened in March 2011, it was already pretty busy when we visited at the end of that month, especially in the evenings. The space, has brick walls, hardwood flooring and shelves containing books, bottles and glasses. The lighting levels, as well as those of the music, are perfectly pitched thanks to the hanging lamps while the bar to one side serves cocktails, wines (predominantly American and Italian) and other beverages from late afternoon until late. All three meals are available at Tenpenny with a continental breakfast beefed up with the availability of a variety of eggs, quiches and frittatas. Lunch, served Monday to Friday, features snacks such as crispy artichokes and pork belly croquettes, appetisers including beef tartare and crispy duck torchon and a range of sandwiches and burgers. The dinner menu, which is American with Italian influences, proposes various pasta dishes (porchetta ravioli), risotto and other comfort food (roasted rack of pork with caramelized romanesco) as well as charcuterie, cheeses and oysters.
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