If you want a stylish and hip place to stay in NYC that won’t require maxing out your credit card, check out the Marriott-affiliated W New York Downtown Hotel, within a few blocks of three different subway stations. It’s walking distance to several neighborhoods and Battery Park.
We’ve covered a lot of New York City hotels on this review site in different parts of Manhattan. One strategy we’ve picked up that you can use in your planning is to book at a place that requires a subway ride to Midtown instead of staying right in the tourist zone. On weekends especially, if you book into a hotel that’s normally filled with business travelers, you’ll probably get a rate that’s easier to swallow and end up with a nicer room as well.
That was definitely the case when I stayed at the newly renovated W New York Downtown Hotel near the 9/11 Memorial, Tribeca, and Wall Street. While this area is buzzing with workers from Monday to Friday, it empties out on the weekends and hotel rates in this area drop accordingly. Because of the thin crowds, everyone staying there had a room with a view and there were ample seats in the bar at any time. The staffers had plenty of time to chat and give helpful advice.
You enter the W New York Downtown at the street level, where the restaurant was closed for renovation during my visit, then take an elevator a few levels up to the fifth-floor lobby. Most of the public facilities are located there, as well as the check-in area and concierge desk.
Several rooms flow into each other here, with sitting areas, a lounge space, and a place you can belly up to the bar. When it’s not freezing or raining like it was when I visited, there’s a fantastic outdoor area where you can sit during the afternoon or at night when the skyscraper lights are twinkling all around.
The decor is trippy and definitely Instagram-worthy with its undulating lights running all along the ceiling. The barstools are red and cushioned sofas and ottomans are in silver-gray and copper copper colors. Artwork on the walls is an assortment of pop art and culture references, with Felix the Cat and Betty Boop making an appearance.
The Living Room bar’s drinks menu may make you cringe if you haven’t spent much time in Manhattan (anyone up for a $10 Amstel Light?). So you might as well let the experienced bartender whip up an interesting cocktail. A pear + nutmeg margarita perhaps, or the “Room Number” with vodka, blood orange liqueur, raspberries, agave syrup, and lime juice. With a DJ spinning tunes and the club atmosphere at night, you’ll feel like you’re getting a real NYC experience without braving a velvet rope 20 blocks away.
There are some light bites here at night, a coffee and tea set-up in the morning, and continental breakfast room service is available. Otherwise, until the ground-floor restaurant opens, you need to order from a local delivery service or venture out for meals. The concierge on duty is used to giving advice on the options every day and has a stash of menus to check out. There are plenty of places to choose from in all budget ranges nearby.
A second set of elevators goes up to the rooms, which recently got some upgrades and are as hip and modern as you’d expect from a W Hotel in New York. You can expect white walls and bed covers accented by pops of color and attractive lighting that can be adjusted to fit the mood. Many rooms have expansive windows that face out to the Freedom Tower–the city’s tallest skyscraper–or to other buildings dating back a century. There’s usually a desk area, a sitting area or two (sometimes window seats), an expansive minibar with snacks, and electronic safe, and ample places to charge your gadgets. There’s a nice Bluetooth speaker built into the alarm clock and a big wall-mounted TV.
Baths are comfortable and stocked with a good array of Davines toiletries, a hair dryer, make-up mirror, rainshower, and terry robes.
You’ll need to look at the photos and descriptions carefully when deciding on a room to book because the ambiguous superlatives that W Hotels uses for its room classifications aren’t very helpful. Which do you think is the bottom and the top when it comes to Fabulous, Wow, Cool, Spectacular, and Wonderful? Well it turns out “Wonderful King” is the smallest, but at 274 square feet is pretty good for Manhattan. I had an “Ultra Cool King” corner room with lots of natural light, about 100 more square feet, and terrific views.
The top choice is the “Extreme Wow” Presidential Suite, which gives you a large separate living room, designer furniture, and more space than you’d get for $10,000-a-month apartment rental in this city.
There’s a large, well-equipped gym on site with plenty of cardio machines, weight machines, dumbbells, and a punching bag. This is no dark basement workout space either: full window walls look out at the city. For a fee they’ll line up a personal trainer.
Staffers at the W Hotel New York City Downtown were some of the friendliest and most helpful I’ve run into during my many visits to Manhattan. The room was impeccably clean and comfortable and after often facing another building from my hotel room window–or worse–it was nice to stay somewhere with natural light and great views. I was able to reach midtown by subway in 15-20 minutes and it’s a short hop to Brooklyn. (You could easily walk to the Brooklyn Bridge from here.)
Rates can drop as low as $150 on the weekends, almost unheard of for a nice hotel in Manhattan. On a Friday or Saturday, that Presidential Suite goes for less than $800. Expect to pay 1.5 or 2X that on busy weekdays when the stock market is in session. If you’re part of the Marriott Bonvoy program, you can earn or cash in points here. See more information at the official Marriott site or check rates online at Hotels.com.
Review and all photos except the one indicated by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted one night at W New York Downtown to check out the post-renovation version of the property. As always, all opinions are his own.