I’m a big fan of hotels. I love the “ping” of elevators. I love room service. I love the little soaps, and turndown service, and I most especially delight in finding new boutique hotels that my husband thinks charge way too much money. But hey, we did once stay in a converted bank in Memphis, ok? For years my go-to online destination for boutique hotels has been the Tablet Hotels resource. Now, these aren’t hotels owned by Tablet, they’re a collection of hotels curated by them. All are boutique hotels and they cover the world over. It’s a well managed process, and Tablet generally gives a great explanation of whether the hotel is sedate, for hipsters, partiers, business people, families or your general mishmash of Euro-trash. Visitor reviews are also generally pretty accurate. The prices range from around $150 per night to well into the thousands, and cover everything from unrated B&B’s to five star palaces. They also offer frequent “Private Sales” which simply require you signing up as a member on their site. And that’s how I found “Night”.
I’m not a big fan of the Times Square area, but it’s sometimes a convenient destination for work, and since Tablet had a screaming deal on this hotel, it was hard to turn down. Hotels in Manhattan can average around $450 around midweek, and that can be for a Holiday Inn. No joke. This Tablet hotel sale offered “Night” for under $250 on it’s most expensive night. It also looked small and really well decorated, completely in black and white. I thought that was rather nice.
Located at 132 45th Street between 6th and 7th, the hotel is half a block from the utter chaos that is Times Square, but it’s far enough to not be too bothered by the noise and constant throng of foreigners. Yes, I know that I’m also foreign, but these are of the matching t-shirt tour variety. Across the street is one of my favorite Tablet hotels: the beautifully hip, fun and quirky Room Mate Grace, formerly Hotel QT which shall go down in infamous fame when Courtney and I stayed there and naked Japanese girls were swimming in the tiny indoor pool with underwater music, situated in the middle of the bar. But that’s quite another story.
I had imagined that “Night” was so named for the black and white décor, but upon arrival it quickly dawned on me that it was really modeled on a Nightclub, with thumping club music piped into each floor. Wow. It really tried so, so hard to be cool. But so completely missed the mark. “Night” felt like a big farce. It was the little details they missed. Like the fact that on their website they advertised Molton Brown toiletries, but really the only Motlon Brown product was the hand soap in the lobby restroom. The rooms had a really incongruous brand of supposedly natural products, packed in beige, which is the worst choice for a hotel decorated in black and white. Completely lost cool points. The website also touted Bose iPod stations in each room, which, in reality were actually old Bose alarm clocks, with no iPod connection. Which is just fine. But why advertise it, and how can you charge a regular rate of $450 for a room then?
The staff were a lackluster bunch who wrote internet codes (which changed every 24 hours – annoying) scribbled on sticky notes. The girl who checked me in was friendly in a “Yo Sister” kind of way, and she was accompanied by a personality-less gentleman who had apparently had bought her the biggest coffee she had ever, ever seen (a Venti Starbucks – I drink one every morning), who seemed to keep forgetting his check-in script. Not surprisingly, the staff burst into friendliness as we were checking out and excitedly gave us out stored suitcases and ushered us to our car. Yep, it was TIP time, and they were certainly going to work for that!
The restaurant was a dark, dark lounge with tables the same height as the seat, which would have made eating difficult, although after sitting down for breakfast the first morning, peering into the saddest buffet that even a Motel 6 could better, we booked it for the nearest Le Pain Quotidien. They did charge me $2.00 for the weak coffee I drank while waiting for my colleague Jack. Speaking of which, when he arrived, he was sent a bottle of champagne to his room to thank him for his business. The room that I paid for, but, I didn’t get any champagne in mine. Which is cool. If you want to make me feel unappreciated.
They did try. There was a turndown service and a printed weather report with some kind of cute quote, and chocolates. But the chocolates were Hershey’s Kisses. Which is cool. But not for $450. You couldn’t spring for something a bit more unique maybe?
Same goes for the bowl of cheap red and white mints at the front desk.Like the ones you get at a Village Inn. The armband tattoos in the lobby were, um, different, and I didn’t see anyone sporting one. And the black and white pictures were very, very hip. Especially the one showing a boob. How contrived could you get? We interviewed a couple of people in that lobby. I realized later, under the boob. They must think we’re very, very hip. Right?
The air conditioner in my room was so noisy that I had to decide between heat and sleep, and when I opted for the latter, ended up having to take an Ambien because something rattled constantly in the air vent, even after I repeatedly bashed it with a hanger at 4am one morning. Oh, and my closet smelled like pee, truly, and besides the tiny bedside drawers, there were none others in the room for clothes. The fridge, which I unplugged because it rattled, was hidden under a round table covered with a black velvet tablecloth, so it was like a theatre performance reaching for a bottle of water, and the front desk threatened me with a $30 “restocking” fee should I move anything. Lord no!
All of the doors slammed shut, so no matter how quietly someone left their room, you’d be disturbed. And since I asked for the most quiet room available, my window faced a grey wall, which truly was ok, except there was a dirty rag hanging outside on a nail, and it really bothered me. Yes I know I’m picky. But open the window and remove the rag goddamn it. Who wants to look at that?
Biggest surprise is that this is actually a Wyndham hotel. Must be their foray into the boutique hotel world, but definitely doesn’t make me want to stay at a Wyndham EVER.
What’s the moral of the story here? Definitely NOT that you get what you pay for, because if I had paid full price for this hotel, I’d have a lot more to say. Surprising as that might be. Nope, the moral is: exactly what my old advertising professor Brian Searle-Tripp used to preach: A-T-D. Attention To Detail. It’s what makes things special and I don’t think it takes a lot to make those small differences mean a whole lot. For fear of sounding fickle, I’ll admit that it’s something I like to apply to every element in my life. After all, doesn’t the saying go “God is in the details”? I think he’d be pretty disappointed in the “Night” hotel.