Centre stage in the city
The accommodation universe is all about location, location, location, and Novotel New York Times Square trumpets its address credentials with good reason.
You couldn’t feel much closer to this mid-town Manhattan entertainment quarter unless you were standing in it. This four-star, 480-room Accor property, and the only Novotel in the US, has been looking first-nightfresh since a thorough refurbishment of public spaces and guestrooms in 2013.
The accommodation is smart and contemporary, with patterned carpets, well-considered workspaces, big wallmounted TVs and beds dressed in snowy white. The spirograph swirls on cushions and bedheads add a groovy touch and the bathrooms, although compact, include all the necessities, such as powerful showers and quality toiletries. Depending on guestroom category, there could be a neat window-seat on which to loll and look out at cityscape views towards the Hudson River, or close-ups of Times Square, a veritable forest of neon by night, all digital billboards and Broadway marquees.
The lobby, one floor up from the ground entry, has echoes of a cabaret, lit up in purples and mauves with retro banquettes, frosted glass pillars and a lively semicircular bar that opens from noon to 1am; for a lunch on the hop, try the Maryland crab cakes with citrus and fennel salad and, hang on, did someone mention cucumber and lavender martinis?
A centrepiece mosaic superimposed on a Times Square celebration image gives the illusion of rippling movement draped with a fine mesh of glass beads; there are silvered beams and looped lights and a buzzy vibe.
Block lettering spells out RENEW on the wall near the elevators but, first, let’s wander from this flowing lobby space to refuel at all-day-diner Supernova, open 6.30am to midnight, with window walls that soar in cathedral style and seem to merge with the panorama beyond.
There are sputnik-style lighting constellations, savvy staff and the sort of fare that nails the NYC scene, from 52nd Street burgers with the works to baked Brooklyn cheesecake.
Tables are highly sought after here, especially on the terrace during the cocktail hours (Manhattans and Cosmopolitans in abundance, of course, plus Coney Island lager), when drinkers gather on cushioned seating, hands warmed over fire pits in winter. There are high-powered viewfinders and this is one of the coveted spaces in the city come New Year’s Eve for the countdown to that famous flagpole ball drop at the One Times Square building. Hotel guests have preferential access to this party space come December 31, but it costs from about $1300 a double room just for that night of nights and minimum periods of stay usually apply.
It’s rare to stay in a metropolis and find almost everything on your visitor’s checklist is easily accessible. There are four subway stations within a block’s stroll of Novotel New York Times Square, and it’s simple to connect to and from JFK international airport.
I hop out and about to Radio City Music Hall and the extravagant shops of Fifth Avenue. Central Park South is seven blocks away and myriad museums are within an easy radius. Free tickets for The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, taped at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, 1697 Broadway, Mondays to Fridays, are released on the first of each month and can be nabbed online if you’re lucky at 1iota.com. A small quota of same-day standby tickets is sometimes available at the theatre from 4pm.
The TKTS discount booth, with up to 50 per cent off theatre seats on and off Broadway, is at the main junction of Times Square. Check the tdf.org site and download the app for up-to-date availability. Aside from the showstopping Bette Midler in Hello Dolly, best of the big hits is Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, with matinees Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Also nearby is Rockefeller Centre and from the Top of the Rock three-layered observation lookout, a giddying 70 floors up, Manhattan spreads out in jagged canyons.
Zoom in on Broadway, 7th Avenue, 42nd and 47th Streets and there you have it — a sky-high view of Times Square, probably the best-known intersection on Earth.
Jo Makito was a guest of Accor.
Novotel Times Square’s Supernova Bar, main; dazzling district view from the hotel, top; king guestroom, above