Starwood’s W hotel in Downtown Manhattan opened in August 2010 and faces the new One World Trade Centre (One WTC) and September 11 Memorial. When it launched, it was the fourth W in New York, now there are five.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The new-build tower has 58 floors for both the hotel and W residences above (23-56). Reception is on the fifth floor, with only a set of lifts at the ground-level entrance and the BLT Bar and Grill adjacent.
The check-in desks are positioned in front of the lifts when you come out – above you, the ceiling is a glowing undulating tunnel of LED lights, while the surfaces are polished black. Beyond are full-height windows and an outdoor terrace facing One WTC, while to the right of the lobby is a lounge, Living Room bar and lifts to the rooms. There is free wifi in these public areas.
I came down one Saturday evening to find the space taken over with a disco – people were dancing everywhere and I had to squeeze my way between them to get to the lifts that serve the ground floor. Business people may take issue with this kind of scenario – DJ sets are held regularly.
WHERE IS IT?
Although the address is Washington Street, in Manhattan’s Downtown financial district, the entrance is on Albany Street. I found that taxi drivers sometimes had problems finding it, despite the big glowing W at the top of the tower, which I had to point out a couple of times.
Entry-level Wonderful rooms start from 25.5 sqm and have city views, 37-inch LCD flatscreen TVs with integrated media hubs, DVD players, iPod docks, minibars and “Munchie Boxes” with sweets and snacks, comfy W beds with 350-thread-count sheets, walk-in showers, lemon-mint scented Bliss bathing products (including face wash, which is a welcome touch), and robes and slippers.
Wifi in all rooms costs US$14.95 for 24 hours. Décor features a funky combination of white lacquer walls with splashes of red and black fittings and upholstery, with LED mood lighting behind the white ostrich leather headboards. There’s also sizeable built-in workdesks, free bottles of water, cocktail shakers, irons and ironing boards and wardrobes illuminated with crimson light inside.
Top category suites are on levels 12-14. I was staying in a 32-34 sqm Spectacular room on the 20th floor facing One WTC. When I first visited the hotel just after it opened, I thought it looked quite slick, but a few years on, it was starting to look a little bit tired, particularly in the corridors, which often smelt of frying.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
I didn’t eat at the hotel, apart from room service, which was okay (just a tasty toasted Gruyere sandwich for US$14) but the W Downtown has the BLT Bar and Grill on the ground and first floor, which serves breakfast and American “pub grub” from 6.30am to 10pm, and cocktails from 11am-1am.
The Living Room Bar and Terrace serves drinks and snacks from 4pm daily (6pm Sunday) until the early hours. “W2Go” picnic packs can also be ordered.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The Wired business centre is open 24 hours a day and is equipped with printers, scanners, laptops to borrow, internet access and free boarding pass printing. There are also six meeting rooms on the fifth floor for between 40 and 60 delegates theatre-style in each.
The modern 93 sqm Fit gym with city views is open around the clock for guests who can access it with their room key. There are treadmills, bikes, free weights and personal trainers available on request. Joggers can borrow iPod Shuffles for running. There is no pool or spa.
The best thing about the W Downtown is its location and views from the upper floors. The in-room amenities and technology are also good but the hotel lacks the “wow” factor you get at some of the newer W properties around the world and is already beginning to look a bit tired since opening four years ago.
I also thought the baggage porters at the entrance could have been friendlier and wasn’t keen on the weekend lobby parties that you have to negotiate when going in and out of the hotel – business travellers staying in the week shouldn’t be confronted with this though.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 216 rooms and suites across five categories (Wonderful, Spectacular and Cool Corner room, Wow suite and Extreme Wow suite).
HIGHLIGHTS The views of One World Trade Centre from a window seat in the room, the comfy bed, the flatscreen LG TV with in-built media hub and well-stocked minibar/Munchie Box.
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in August started from US$450 for a Wonderful room.
CONTACT W New York – Downtown, 123 Washington Street (entrance on Albany Street); +1 646 826 8600; wnewyorkdowntown.com