I’ve had the pleasure of staying in New York twice now – this last time at the Grand Hyatt New York before and after an inaugural sailing on the new Norwegian Breakaway – and every time I stand in the middle of Times Square, the Big Apple instantly enchants me. There is something unmistakably magical about the sheer height of the Manhattan high-rises and the endless corridors of sidewalks and roadways they flank. Of course with so many buildings comes the inevitable realization that there is a seemingly endless selection of hotels to go with them, but only a few are truly noteworthy.
We wanted a centrally located hotel that was within walking distance of Times Square and a short cab ride to the cruise ship terminal. So for our purposes, we chose to settle in at the Grand Hyatt – nestled between Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building, two New York icons that make architectural connoisseurs like myself swoon. However, the Hyatt here has quite the history too as it turns out.
Originally erected and opened in 1919 as The Commodore Hotel, the once stone-clad building began its career under the successful ownership of The New York Central Railroad before the railroad went bankrupt in the late 1970s. It was in 1976 that the Trump Organization purchased the property, gutted the bulk of it, and refaced it with reflective glass. The hotel reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt New York and was subsequently renovated in 1996 and 2011.
Today, the hotel lobby is very modern and the chromatic opposite of an Apple Store. Black is the color of choice, and the decorative effect is darker and more masculine than most hotels. Before knowing of the edifice’s history, I would have guessed it was once an office building due to the lobby’s sprawling minimalism: now filled with backless couches and broad pillars. Two monolithic white sculptures of human heads help to soften the space as does a cascading waterfall at the hotel’s main entrance. The overall look is actually a welcome change of pace.
As for its function, the hotel is a convenient 15-minute walk from the heart of Times Square and an equal 15-minute cab ride to piers 88 and 90 of the Manhattan cruise ship terminal. Onsite dining includes New York Central, featuring a display kitchen and restaurant cleverly cantilevered out and over the hotel’s front sidewalk, and Market for quick-service take-away eats and drinks. Grand Club rooms come with access to the titular Grand Club and its complimentary beverages throughout the day and hors d’oeuvres at scheduled times. The superb exclusive lounge even sports a beautiful al fresco terrace.
A complimentary 24-hour fitness center and impressive 60,000 square feet of meeting space round out the general hotel features. In fact, the only remnant of the hotel’s historical neoclassical decor is found at the foyer to the Empire State Ballroom. Otherwise, all of the meeting space has been recently renovated. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the hotel.
A wide bank of ten elevators transports guests to 1,306 available rooms. Elevator lobbies and room corridors feature rich colors and backlit nature-print panels. Our standard two-double-bed room with Grand Club access was very comfortable and carried over the handsome decor of the main lobby. The dark woods are nicely paired with an abstract burgundy-toned wall print and offset by white linens.
High-tech appointments such as touch-panel area lighting controls, an iPod-docking sound system and a flat panel television compliment the room perfectly. Accent lighting gives a pleasant glow to the room without any harsh illumination. The beds are cushy and supportive, and the integrated padded headboard is quite stylish.
Across the way, the desk area is very wide for accepting plenty of business and personal effects, and both below the desk and the nightstand are more than enough drawers for longterm storage. A comfy couch and ottoman fill out the furnishings over by the window which, in our room, had a great view of the art deco flourishes of the opposing Chrysler Building.
The utilitarian bathroom is perhaps less stylish than the rest of the room with a standard tub-shower combo and commercial-style lever toilet valve, but it remains just as accommodating while rich woods and white accents carried over from the bedroom add a bit of character to the space.
The Grand Hyatt New York is a winner of a hotel in our book with a prime location and comfortable accommodations. It is a dramatically-designed property that will surely do you well for business or pleasure while staying in New York and particularly before and after a cruise sailing roundtrip from the Big Apple.
For more information on the Grand Hyatt New York and to arrange for your own stay, visit the hotel’s website here.