New Manhattan Hotels Look for that Boutique Feel

The exteior of New York's Yotel looks like an anime movie's opening credits.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

With the major hotels in New York City clearly established, it would seem the only new players able to wriggle into the Manhattan tourism scene are smaller, edgy joints offering an intimacy or a style that the others don’t offer.

Since my work occasionally takes me to The Big Apple, I had the opportunity to try two of the newer players on the scene. Ink 48 is a Kimpton Hotel, and the new Yotel is the first accommodations of its kind in the U.S.

The Ink 48 stands on 11th Avenue near West 48th Street. Surrounded by high-end car dealerships and tiny restaurants, the Ink aims for the high end crowd looking to avoid the crowds associated with New York’s biggest hotels.

Brick-walled and warmly lit, the Ink 48 exudes quiet class. Its Manhattan Midtown West seat gives the Ink 48 a special cache amongst New York’s newest hotels. Its luxurious rooms live up to that reputation. I didn’t have a full size, multi-room suite. But, for a New York hotel room, I was living large.

However, the Ink’s biggest local attraction is its rooftop lounge, The Press Room. The gourmet bar faces one of the finest (and lesser known) viewing points for the west side of Midtown. The outdoor patio area will be well known by summer’s end as one of the better hipster hang-outs in New York.

And, a recent check of its average introductory room rates came in around $150. That’s stealing it for a hotel of this quality.

Before opening in New York just blocks from Times Square, the young Yotel chain opened in Heathrow Airport outside London.  At the airport edition, visitors can take a room for a night or by the hour for extended layoffs. It’s a new concept in hotels – a highly modern, modular hotel lacking some luxuries while offering affordable essentials in expensive environments.

At first glance, the exterior of the New York Yotel looks like a set from an anime movie with its glowing pastel exterior. Once inside, you enter a futuristic, if slightly sterile world where technology takes the place of some human services. Visitors sign into their rooms via automated computer screens, and the bell desk is a robot. Literally.

If you would like to store luggage or another item before or after checkout, you can insert it into a metal box along the Yotel’s lobby wall. After you punch in a code, an industrial robot arm swoops down, scoops up your belongings and deposits them in a safe cubby hole up and out of sight. It’s a cool gimmick to watch, but it lacks a little warmth.

The Yotel’s interior is predominantly gleaming white with the rounded walls and fixtures of a sea ship or airplane. That ship motif flows through the entire hotel. The rooms are “cabins,” and guests fetch their vending treats in the Galley.

The rooms are very high tech Japanese, with everything preformed and compact. If the guest can get used to the limited space – something to be expected in a New York City hotel room – the little white womb can feel comfortable and cozy. That’s a basic expectation for the average room rate of $200. per night.