When I visit a destination, I want to live and breathe it, get under its skin, feel what makes it tick. New York has a myriad of faces, moods and neighborhoods, regardless, it’s hard to escape the buzz of what was once the largest metropolis in the whole world. With a mere two days and 20+ sites to visit, I wanted to be in the epicenter and I achieved this at the CitizenM Times Square.
I’d first discovered CitizenM when I’d been invited to the launch party of their Paris branch in June 2014. The night was full of surprises, leaving me with more than just fond memories of their incredibly comfortable king-sized beds, welcoming designer lounge and fun ambience. With now six hotels around the world (besides Paris CDG and New York there’s London, Glasgow, Amsterdam and Rotterdam), this four-star boutique chain combines ultra hip design with first-class amenities making it an affordable luxury option for modern travelers not seeking the pomp and glitz of most other luxury hotels. My travels hadn’t brought me back one of their destinations, until now.
As a busy citizen of the world who’s been from Hong Kong to London and from Tokyo to Vancouver, I’m often in travel situations where time is of the essence, especially since I usually have a lot to do in a short time frame. If I’d had more time, I might have wanted to stay in cool Brooklyn, leisurely sipping single-origin, cold-brew coffee with the hipsters or in multicultural Queens, practicing my Spanish over a cheap cafe con leche with the local latinos, however, time was of the essence. Time.
Times Square. Perhaps the location couldn’t be more central: right smack dab at 50th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. A half-block one way you’ve got the C and E lines, a half-block the other way you have the 1 and a stone’s throw further there’s the B,D,E and the N, Q, R… Not quite the whole alphabet of the Big Apple’s subway system, yet pretty close. This is ideal for the busy traveler and in my case it got me to all my 20 research spots… either on the train or, since it’s so central, on foot. Central Park, MoMa, Radio City Music Hall, the Rockefeller Center and many other sites of interest are within walking distance.
Times Square with Broadway’s flashing signs and superheroes posing for photos rather than saving the world hasn’t really been a hub for New York coolness, until the CitizenM opened in April 2014. As soon as I walked through the entrance, I picked up on the same designer flare as their Paris branch: an eccentric mix of funky lamps, porcelain animals, mini Eiffel Towers or red Statue of Liberties. Each location features artworks from local artists as well as works from founder Rattan Chadha’s personal collection. In the vast open lounge—the living room—we’re greeted by a large mural of gold walking figures by Julian Opie and just behind you can’t miss the Andy Warhol screen-print of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, a nod to the owner’s Dutch origins.
“Welcome citizen Lily.” Here the guests aren’t “guests,” we’re “citizens,” an excellent match for a citizen of the world. We check ourselves in, help ourselves to free wifi throughout the hotel, chat with fellow citizens in our spacious living room, print out our boarding passes or museum tickets in a free printing area, stay fit in the 24-hour gym and practise yoga on an outside terrace with panoramic views of the city. Arriving in our rooms, we’re personally greeted on the TV screen and, in my case, I was also greeted with a hand drawn welcome card! Talk about citizenship. In the same spirit, all of the rooms are exactly the same size; no suites, no hierarchy.
On the walls of the various floors are inspirational travel quotes from famous citizen-like travelers from the wise words of French writer Marcel Proust; “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes,” to the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes; “A man’s homeland is wherever he prospers.”
The rooms are compact and instantly have a Japanese feel, well thought-out, no space wasted, simple though classy design. So if you’re planning to hang out in your room (outside of the bed or not under the relaxing rain shower), you’ll be disappointed; that’s what the fabulous common spaces are for, that is, when you’re not out exploring the city.
I really don’t think I’ve slept in a more comfortable bed, my only regret was having the phenomenal kingsized bed all to myself… As much as I’m a fan of the great views from the large window of midtown, I might be a bigger fan of their blackout windows, dangerous for sleeping in too late, but helpful for enjoying your sleep in those huge beds even more.
Each room has a tablet which includes the control functions for the room and additional functions that put you in the mood for relaxing or possibly a little loving with their different lighting and soundtrack options, a special added touch, though I was disappointed to not find a button for making a sexy man magically appear.
360° New York by Night
New York has thousands of cool bars, but only one will belong just for you: the Cloud Bar. Located on the 21st floor, it’s open from 4 to midnight and only accessible to “citizens.” You can be dazzled by the twinkling nights of New York from the deck or relax on one of the interior sofas surrounded the same contemporary style as on the ground floor, presided over by a large American moose. It was the ideal place to end my long day of research, prosecco in hand, the perfect crowning moment of my stay at this perfect New York hotel.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of CitizenM. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and the opinions presented are my own.