Monday, May 13, 2013

The Roger New York Wears A Bow Tie

The Roger
Earlier this year, I had a chance to take a return trip to New York City and stayed somewhere I never expected. While I prefer places that are tried and true most of the time, one of my friends suggested I stay at the recently renovated The Roger (not to be confused with the Roger Smith Hotel).

Given the boutique hotel located on Madison Avenue in the Flatiron District is new, the room rates seemed reasonable and the property was offering an additional special (valet parking and breakfast for $10 more), I readily agreed. After all, the Empire State Building is just a short walk from the hotel. So is Koreatown.

The location is great and renovations crisp, but it's the kindness that keeps you.

It's easy enough to tell that the hotel staff are trying to make a great impression. Everyone is helpful and especially willing to help — offering advice, accommodating special requests, and assisting with reservations at any of the nearby restaurants. While not everyone will think this is extraordinary, maybe expected, it was the authenticity that made all the difference.

Although you can hear some street traffic like most New York hotels, the rooms are quiet enough. If you are more sensitive to noise where you stay, it always makes sense to request a room with a view to escape any bustle near the ground floors. For me, it wasn't a bother.

The rooms feel open considering the smaller New York sizes, which has to do with the smartly but sparsely designed room. What I didn't care for was the color scheme. The whiteness makes it a little stark, mostly because some of the warmer accents don't work with the black and white base.

The Roger
Still, there are plenty of details that count. The linens are Egyptian cotton. The comforters and pillows are down for added comfort. Modern amenities that have become expected in recent years like flatscreen televisions and docking stations were present.

All in all it's comfortable enough, but it really it is the staff who make the stay memorable more than the hotel itself. They make you feel at home, which can't be said for all hotels. Having only 194 rooms helps. But what doesn't help is how some hotels are dropping room rates but then adding surcharges and point of sale items (even in the bathroom). It cheapens the experience.

Otherwise, if you can splurge for a room with a terrace, do it. The Manhattan skyline gives the hotel the charm it just doesn't seem to have on its own beyond the lobby or the The Parlour, which was designed by Anna Busta. It was her idea to blend old world and new, inspired by what was right outside.

The Flatiron District is an amazing blend of New York business. 

The area is mostly known for its famously triangular Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park. There is a different vibe in the area, creating the impression you are in New York City without being a tourist.

Like the renovations at The Roger, there is an ever-present blending of the old and the new. As a daytime destination, the old world architecture, modern public art, and eatery aromas capture the excitement of it. Shopping is eclectic, given how many design, photography, and clothing shops are there.

New York
If there is a must-do amidst a host of must-dos, visit the park for what some people call the best hamburger in the city. The only trick to getting one from Danny Meyer is having enough time. The line (which is longer in the summer) becomes something of a spectacle in and of itself.

The wait, much like I was promised, was worth it. The place you will be looking for is the Shake Shack, which actually began as a hotdog cart about 12 years ago. While I missed the opening, the annual public art installation probably helps (and a fully charged iPhone). This year's installation is artist Orly Genger's concept to frame all the lawns with red, yellow, and blue walls of hand-knotted rope. It's about 1.4 million feet of rope to give you a sense of scale.

Personally, I preferred the nearby nighttime attractions. All the lounges, clubs, and cabarets heat up. Make sure you visit the Flatiron Lounge for that crazy New York mixology, mahogany bar seating, and  jazz music. The bar, as a point of interest, was originally made in 1927. Frank Sinatra loved it too.

The Roger New York Gets Off The Ground At 3.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

While the review rating isn't as high as some might expect, the hotel is still cool enough to make our places list. All in all, if the art was more interesting (to add some warmth to the rooms) and the surcharge silliness was killed outright, it would likely land somewhere in the sevens. Seriously. Placing price tags all over hotels feels like forgetting to cut them off your clothes after shopping.

The location, on the other hand, is abuzz with new stuff. While I was in New York too early to see it, both Codecademy and Tres Carnes both opened. Fore more details and booking information, start by comparing specials against top travel deals at There are options.
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