Just Don’t Go Outside: A Review of the Times Square Edition
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To The Point
The Times Square Edition is a brand new property featuring Ian Schrager’s chic design aesthetic. The pros: beautiful rooms, comfortable beds and gorgeous bar spaces (even the gym has views). The cons: location is chaotic and busy so noise/ light enter the rooms and food quality doesn’t match the gorgeous dining and drinking spaces.
After seeing the absolutely stunning photos of the new Times Square Edition property, I couldn’t help but want to stay there. I’d somewhat recently reviewed the New York Edition in the city’s Flatiron district and found the property to be sophisticated and chic. I was anxious to check out its newest sister property — there was just one downside.
It’s in Times Square.
While it may not be bad news for all visitors, especially tourists or first-timers to Manhattan, as a frequent traveler to the city, I know that the area around Times Square can be a hassle: noise, crowds, traffic and bright lights, all of which make it annoying and difficult to get anywhere quickly.
But I didn’t care. I was ready to brave the city’s epicenter, which receives up to 450,000 visitors on foot daily, in order to experience Ian Schrager’s famed minimalism. But was it worth it? Read on to find out.
It’s best to book the property directly on Marriott’s website and pay with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Besides earning 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, you also earn perks like up to $300 in statement credits each cardmember year for eligible purchases (including room rates) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, complimentary Marriott Gold status, a free award night (worth up to 50,000 points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees) after your account anniversary each year, and more. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).
My room rate for a standard room was about $395 per night pretax plus a $35 destination fee. The fee included a $50 per day laundry credit (keep in mind the prices per item were high, so that was enough for about four items max), $35 per day food/beverage credit (not available to use at the club or on room service), 25% off at Hershey’s Chocolate World and one free SoulCycle credit per room per day, as well as free long-distance phone calls (so random).
I did feel like the amenities included were pretty nice perks to have — specifically, the Soul Cycle class plus the food/beverage and laundry credits outweighed the $35 fee. I ended up taking one class, doing laundry and using the dining credit both days.
The food and laundry charges didn’t appear on my final bill, and I was pleased to see they had properly applied the credit — or so I thought. I had spoken too soon. An additional charge showed up on my credit card statement a few days after I had checked out — one that wasn’t included in copy of the final bill I had received upon check out.
I called to dispute the charge and staff set up a refund, which they explained was for the laundry, as the credit was never applied. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I was glad I caught it. If you do take advantage of the amenities that the destination fee awards you, make sure to check your credit card statement to confirm you haven’t actually been charged after-the-fact for any of these extras.
My stay earned me about 10,600 points, including a bonus for my Gold elite status.
As I lamented, the Times Square Edition, as its name suggests, was in the heart of the famous convergence of lights, shopping and general hoopla. The hotel claimed to “revamp Times Square as the meeting place once again.” Perhaps that was true, as I was able to persuade three out of seven friends to meet at the hotel bar with the promise of a trendy atmosphere and cocktails on my tab. The other four, though, remained unconvinced — and I think I was, too.
The hotel is officially on the corner of 47th street and Seventh Avenue. I only had to push past two blocks of heaving crowds to get to subway lines like the R and W from the hotel. Taking taxis or using ride-hailing services from the area was possible, but the traffic was consistently horrendous, so I avoided doing so whenever I didn’t have my large suitcase with me.
I couldn’t complain about the number of bars, restaurants and shops nearby, but I could complain about the quality: Did I really want to eat dinner at Red Lobster or shop at Old Navy, spots I could find in literally every other town or city in the USA? I spent most of my time trying to escape the area and heading to other parts of the town on foot or by subway.
After a very pleasant experience with the ground staff, who practically ran to my Uber to whisk my suitcases out of the trunk, I skirted the crowds to enter the hotel. I walked down a long hallway with a large mirrored green bubble at the end, immediately feeling calmer. The hallway smelled significantly better than the wafts of street-meat smoke along 47th. At the end of the hallway, I found myself at a set of elevators that I could take to the reception on the 10th floor.
I headed to the reception counter, where I handed over my credit card and was apathetically told my room number was 2011 by a staff member who looked like he really didn’t want to be there.
I knew the room rate for my standard room had perks included. Complimentary SoulCycle classes were one of them, but I asked for confirmation at reception. The man who checked me in looked confused and almost irritated when I asked for the benefits to be clarified, if my rate included breakfast and how to connect to the Wi-Fi. I mean, how rude of me to ask him a question!
I was surprised at the lack of assistance and disappointed that the reception staff didn’t meet my expectations (which are usually fairly low, actually, but it would have been nice to know the basics for my stay). However, I was grateful for the fact I was able to check in early — 10:30 am on a Saturday.
In contrast, the ground staff was extremely nice and greeted me every time I walked in and exited the hotel. The difference in the two service experiences was almost jarring, which I later found out was the case in the bar, too.
The lobby was sparsely decorated, save for a wall and stairs with plants, but I knew later I’d be checking out the stylish lobby bar. In order to get to the guest rooms, I had to use a different set of elevators that required keycard access.
I wandered through the sleek hallway to my room, 2011. The first thing I noticed when walking in was the mood lighting: There must have been track lighting under the desk and the bathroom fixtures, creating a sexy, modern vibe that fit perfectly with the all-white-and-beige décor.
The room was open-concept, with a built-in closet to my left, bathroom to my right and the bedroom opening up in front of me. A curtain could be pulled across to separate the bedroom from the bathroom, but the whole setup gave me W Hotel vibes — a sexy place to stay on your own or with your partner, but not great for friends traveling together or any setting you wanted privacy in the bathroom.
A large window afforded me city views, and I could sort of see Times Square if I leaned over and looked to the right, as well a huge building across the street where I spied lots of construction.
The queen bed was extremely comfortable, and I slept well until noise from the construction across the street jolted me awake at exactly 6:12am Monday morning.
I was glad I brought my eye mask. The hotel made a sad effort with its blackout curtain, but it would have taken a lot more to completely block out the flashing lights that were visible 24/7 in the area. Electric blackout shades would have been very welcome here.
The signature fur throw was artfully tossed on the bed when I arrived, then removed and folded each evening with turndown service.
I loved the white armchair next to the window, but it also happened to be directly in front of the air-conditioning vent, and it was uncomfortable to sit there while the air was blowing.
The technology features of the room were advanced. I loved the lighting system, which had buttons for low, medium and high, as well as a night light and a master off switch.
A Bluetooth speaker was on one of the bedside tables, and I could log into my Netflix account on the television or even put on a relaxing scene like a fireplace. There were plenty of USB ports and regular (US) power outlets around the room.
The desk wasn’t ideal for eating or working. It didn’t have much depth, and was right under the television, making it hard for me to eat my room-service breakfast while catching the morning news. The chair was cool from a design perspective, but it wasn’t comfortable to sit at while working for a long period of time.
Having the Nespresso machine with several free capsules was a nice addition, and the minibar and fridge were fully stocked, too.
The room also had a steamer, and irons were available upon request.
The sink and vanity in the bathroom were part of the open concept. The vanity was very long but only had one sink, giving me lots of space leave my toiletries and makeup.
The toilet and shower were in small, separate rooms.
I was excited for the Le Labo amenities, which are some of my favorite hotel bath amenities out there, thanks to their intoxicating scent.
The shower, though small, was hot and powerful, and the towels were noticeably fluffier and more luxurious than many those at other hotels (or my own at home, for that matter).
I found the room comfortable for one person as well as fairly spacious for New York City. The only thing bothersome was the light and noise coming from (you guessed it) Times Square. The space was also better for tourists than business travelers, who may find the desk difficult to work from.
Food and Beverage
The hotel has a beautiful lobby bar that looks remarkably like the bar at the other New York Edition property, with candles, the signature fur throws and a towering bar with endless bottles of spirits.
The signature black and white spaces were complemented by a small outdoor space with tables and chairs.
I enjoyed the Edition’s take on the Aperol spritz, a wine spritzer featuring lemonade, white wine and aloe vera, and my friend loved her mezcal cocktail mixed with mango. With cocktail prices averaging about $20 per drink, the $35 credit didn’t get me very far — even a club soda was $5.
The service was all over the place, similar to my arrival and check-in experience. The bartenders were friendly, fast and competent, while the servers were a bit of a disaster, taking forever to come over, mixing up orders and forgetting things. I actually wanted to order the crab guacamole, but the waitress never came back, so I never got a chance (and I’m still a little sad about it).
The ninth floor of the building also had an elaborate space called the Terrace, which was a restaurant and gardens.
The outdoor area was simply divine, covered in ivy and greenery, with Moroccan-themed candles and vintage chairs. As I marveled at the tropical beauty, a staff member told me it was inspired by the Miami Beach Edition.
While eating breakfast there (using my $35 food-and-beverage credit) was pleasant due to the relaxing, green space, the food wasn’t amazing. I ordered fresh juice and avocado toast topped with a scrambled egg. It came beautifully plated, but that’s where the excitement ended. It was extremely bland, and the avocado had brown spots.
The cold-pressed juice was good, but in general, the mediocre food didn’t match the exceptional space. It was almost as if the hotel wanted it to look pretty but didn’t care about the actual flavor or texture. In fact, that’s something that could have been said about the hotel in general.
701 West is the first Michelin-starred restaurant to hit Times Square, and although I didn’t sample the cuisine, I’d like to think it featured dishes tastier than at the nearby dining options, which included chain restaurants like McDonalds, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. The bar portion of the restaurant was gorgeous, though, and if I’d had more time at the hotel than just two nights, I would have liked to drink or dine there.
There’s also a nightclub in the hotel called Paradise Club, which is reservation-only.
The outdoor deck just outside of the hotel gym (12th floor) had amazing views. The gym itself was large and airy, set up with machines and weight equipment.
As far as the amenities that came along with my room rate, I found the food-and-beverage credit to be the most useful, followed by the laundry credit, which came in handy for those sweaty gym clothes I needed washed after my SoulCycle class.
I booked the class through the concierge, who explained the available times and reserved it for me. Just note that it’s one class per room per day. If both guests in the room love to tap it back, one of you will have to pay for your class. The studio is near Bryant Park, a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Shockingly, I didn’t use the long-distance-call benefit, nor the 25% discount at the Hershey store. As I mentioned before, my only disappointment in regards to the amenities included with destination fee was that I was “secretly” charged for laundry after my stay and had to call to dispute it.
From a design perspective, Times Square Edition was breathtaking. Because the property was new, everything looked immaculate. But service was all over the place, and while the rooms and spaces were beautiful, looks can be deceiving. Things like mediocre service and staff and noisy rooms took my experience down a notch — and the hotel wasn’t new enough to still be tweaking — the property opened in March.
I wouldn’t stay here again simply because I prefer to be downtown and hated fighting the crowds in Times Square. But if you are visiting New York for the first time, staying here could be fun, especially if you don’t need to get to work meetings on time. Just be ready for chaos every time you exit the hotel, and just know that your Instagram photos may be better than your actual stay.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Brilliant Amex card, click here.
Featured image by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.
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