The W hotel sits right at the insomniac, neon heart of New York, on the corner where Broadway, Times Square and 46th Street meet. Traffic whirls around it in an endless circle; tour buses scoop up and set down sightseers on one side, taxis drop off and pick up theatre-goers on another. The surrounding streets teem with people, scenes of urban life, from the banal to the bizarre, play out day and night. Voices, music, traffic, machines and sirens merge into a discordant roar.
Swing through the W’s revolving doors, though, and you leave all this behind.
Water is the theme of the W’s décor. The roar of the city is drowned in a stream of cool music. The glare of neon is lost in soothing colours of stone and river. In the downstairs foyer, water ripples down one wall in a floor to ceiling tank and drops of light spill from the ceiling onto the flagstone floor. The music flows into the lift and up to the 7th floor. To the left is the Welcome or Reception area, ahead the concierge’s desk. Their lamps float like bubbles in the dim light.
The Water theme flows on up to rooms. There’s more stone grey, muted light and lots of glass. There’s a floating glass mural behind the bed (which surprisingly, is not a water bed, but is nevertheless as soft as a rolling wave) The bedside tables are cubes of orange glass. Mini bar goodies (Munch at the W) entice from a big glass box. On the wall is a rack of glossy magazines – Gotham, City and Wish. There’s a floating glass desk. The bathroom is a glass and grey box (with a generous supply of soft white towels and Bliss toiletries) A grey leather chaise longue unfurls below a giant window which looks out into the neon screens of Times Square.
In Sweat, the 10th floor gym, the submarine light and riverscape colours continue. Fast-flowing house music (or TV!) speeds you through your workout. Fat white towels, abundant Bliss toiletries and crisp green Granny Smith apples ease recovery.
On the 7th floor, adjacent to the Welcome area is The Living Room, the hottest bar in town. Fittingly, its colours are those of the reef and the beach. There are circles of sand coloured couches and screens. A coral orange glass mural shimmers on the far wall. The Living room is great place for star-gazing and intrigue spotting.
Down on the ground floor, The Blue Fin restaurant, despite its name, has a menu which goes well beyond the ocean. Its attractions too go beyond cuisine. From its front bar you can watch the 24/7 action of Times Square while in the shadowed corners of its back room you can spot New York socialites, celebrities and stars.
The W’s basement club Whiskey is one of a number founded by model, tycoon and husband of Cindy Crawford Rande Gerber. This is the place to be seen dancing the night away beneath the big screens, surrounded by hot music and cool New York party people.
The Store, open all hours, lit with bright white light and full of fabulous gifts, clothes, stationery, and groovy gum-boots as well as mundane things like toothbrushes.
It would be easy to while away New York days and nights here in this seductive self-contained W world. The hotel’s service philosophy is whatever, whenever. Blue Fin’s kitchen never closes. The Living room never draws its blinds. At sweat you jog your way through nights and days. The Store never shuts. Just call Room Service aka Whatever Whenever and a posse of Adonises in suits will deliver whatever you want whenever you want it to wherever you are. So there’s really no need to leave.
But eventually those neon lights outside the window beckon and the muffled sounds of the city call from beyond the walls. It’s time to get out and explore.