Upon entering my room, I experienced a sensation I never thought possible in the perpetually spinning hamster wheel that is midtown Manhattan: serenity. Maybe it was the soothing blue-gray color palette, or the clean lines of the furniture, kind of a warmed-up Scandinavian. Regardless, as I gazed out the window at the heart of the city spread out before me, awash in the cold, digital glow of the LED screens that replaced those neon lights, it became easier to breathe the kind of deep, cleansing breaths you normally don’t associate with tourist hordes and adults dressed as puppets and nearly naked cowboys.
The 34-floor, 480-room hotel, built in 1981, underwent a massive, $85 million overhaul last year, a rare occurrence in an otherwise staid Times Square hotel market. While much of the work was infrastructural, updates to the rooms, restaurant, and outdoor space make this a welcome respite from the urban madness. If you can extract yourself from the plush bed, it’s worth a trip to the seventh floor, where the bar and restaurant, both called Supernova, mainly serve as a means by which to get a drink in your hand before heading out to the terrace. The view there, turned straight down Broadway, is stunning, especially at night. Should an autumn breeze chill the air, never fear—artful pyres are arranged all along the terrace to keep you warm.
Explore: Come on, you’re in New York City, so there’s really no end to the places you can go. If you’re in town for a show, consider balancing the indoor entertainment with some outdoor activity. Central Park is a stone’s throw away, and, sure, you’ve probably been through the park a time or two. Maybe you’ve even hopped in a swan boat. But to really get the know the park in all its meticulously designed glory, it helps to have a guide who knows every corner. Guided bike tours, lasting between one and two hours, are offered hourly year-round, and explore the architecture of the park as well as the shooting locations of famous movies and TV shows. Check out www.centralpark.com/guide/tours/bike.html for more information. Walking tours are also available.
Dine: Again, we’re talking NYC here. Your options are endless: Walk west and south for seafood restaurant Esca (www.esca-nyc.com), praised as “unpretentiously upscale” by a colleague, or the year-old Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop (www.ivanramen.com); hop on the Shuttle to Grand Central Station for the Oyster Bar (www.oysterbarny.com), now in its 101st year. Of course, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, gustatorily and financially, the famous Le Bernardin (www.le-bernardin.com) is mere paces away.
Insider’s Tip: One of the obvious advantages of staying in Times Square is the proximity you have to amazing theater, or rather, to amazing theater box offices. If you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, or just indecisive, forget about buying full-price tickets to shows ahead of time. Rise early one morning and check www.playbill.com, which maintains a list of the rush, lottery, and standing-room-only policies of all the major shows. Grab a coffee and bagel and a place in line at the theater box office and you might be able to snag day-of tickets for up to 50 percent off. Split up between theaters and see who can get lucky first.
Hotel Novotel New York Times Square
226 W 52nd St, New York, NY (212) 315-0100; www.accorhotels.com
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour Details: Fall rates begin at $350