The exterior of the Element is remarkable for its colour: there are not too many black buildings in the city, although we are fans of this new build tower despite it contrasting with its surroundings. Set back slightly from the pavement, the hotel's entrance is framed almost by a white, angled structure as well as an overhang bearing the property's name. The contemporary lobby, which is rather sleek with clean lines and plenty of seating off to the left, is often a very busy place and we feel that there are not enough receptionist posts at the desk to deal with the high number of guests. Our experience of the staff was that while very friendly and well-meaning, it wasn't the most professional of teams. What's more, there was often an incredibly long wait for the lifts, especially in the mornings when everyone heads down for the free breakfast in the lobby (see 'Food and Drink'). Through to the back of the lobby are a couple of pleasant lounge areas where guests can relax throughout the day and where breakfast is also served as well as an evening reception. The first is a very cosy, living room-like space with sofas, bar counter, shelves with vases and a big flatscreen television while the latter is more of a conservatory number with a glass roof and long, cushioned communal couches which stretch almost the entire length of the considerably sized space. One other feature of the ground floor space is Restore, a gourmet grab & go pantry where guests can purchase snacks and beverages 24 hours a day at their own leisure.
It is perhaps no surprise that the hotel, which presents itself as a healthy living property, has one of the finest fitness centres in the city. The facility boasts numerous top-of-the-range machines of all types, both cardio and weights, as well as a great air conditioning system. Water and towels are both provided free of charge. Other facilities offered by the hotel include a laundry room which guests are free to use as well as a complimentary business centre located in the lounge behind the lobby (or there Is free wifi throughout the property if you prefer). There is also a rooftop space at the hotel which commands spectacular views of northern Manhattan and of the Hudson River, although there is no bar service up here.
It's true to say that the lobby can get extremely crowded at times and is not a pleasant place to be. However, the rest of the hotel is far calmer and more orderly. The corridors are wide and bright and the indications are very clear. All parts of the hotel are clean and kept in a good condition.