All of which had us slightly excited for a super-awesome-amazing room once we got there. Wrong. While check-in went very smoothly—the Front Desk sits directly opposite the doors, so it's impossible to miss—and a friendly bellboy led us up the elevator to our room, we were less than thrilled to find....
The room was incredibly small. After getting settled, we had some time to wait for our friend, and in order to pass the time...well, there really wasn't much in there at all to distract us, except the TV. So we went and got a sandwich. There happen to be a few good bodegas around the corner on Tenth Avenue.
What we liked about the room: it was clean, the linens were crisp, and the giant white illuminated cubes on either side of the bed were a nice touch. What we didn't like: no art and no privacy. Sure, you could argue that the room itself—with mirrored walls behind the bed, and little gooseneck lamps hanging over the pillows—is a work of art in itself, and in some ways you'd be right. But for better or worse, this is a themed hotel, and we expected more pizzaz on the walls.
As for privacy, the room faces directly onto the "Great Lawn" (more on that in a bit), a rectangular courtyard covered in astroturf and beanbag chairs which we jokingly referred to as a playpen earlier in the week. And while you can pull two sets of blinds to block other people from looking in, you then immediately feel like you're in a dim, windowless box. And as much as we tried not to dwell on that fact, sometimes we couldn't help it. What the room could have used was some of that color applied so liberally outside in the Great Lawn.
Elsewhere in the room, you'll find a 40" flat-screen TV, a window-facing desk built into the wall, and a telephone. There are supposed to be mp3 docking stations but those hadn't arrived yet.
The bathroom is sexy, sexy, sexy. And because it's in the back of the room, it doesn't have that same voyeuristic feel as the rest of the room. If you want, you can partition off the whole bathroom by sliding a pair of frosted glass double doors. Which means two things: either you shower in privacy from your roommate, or both of you go in the bathroom, slide the dividers shut, and head into the wide mirror-encased shower for some naughty times. The choice is up to you.
Toiletries come in re-fillable pump dispensers, which we're guessing many of you are already rolling your eyes about. To make up for it (kind of), the unique sink is a large glass basin that sits on top of the counter, so when you wash your hands, the water magically drains through the bottom of it and into the pipes below. Well, we were impressed by it anyway.
One major fail: the hotel didn't have any bars of soap to put next to the sink—in fact, there were no products at all except for the two pump dispensers of shampoo and body wash in the shower. They promised to correct this in the coming weeks, but for the time being, guests just have to wash their hands with slippery body wash. Sexy? Not so much.
The service was great. We were taken care of by quite a few amiable gentlemen—the names of two stick out: Noel, the concierge, and Alex, the bellboy—who all seemed intent on making sure we had everything we needed. Though the hotel is technically still a work in progress, these guys went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The next morning, we called down asking about nearby diners (the restaurant, just like the steam room and jacuzzi, won't be finished until April or May) and within seconds, Noel had sent up a menu of a place down the block that offered free delivery.
Fifteen minutes later, our California omelette from the Theatre Row Diner showed up and we sat back and watched the Wendy Williams show for an hour. When in Rome...
The Public Spaces
First things first: the lobby is pretty impressive. Stark and a little emotionless, but impressive nonetheless. A gently twisting corridor of black and white with fluorescent light strips running along the edges—it certainly sets an atmosphere. A street-facing mini-lounge area is raised above the rest of the lobby, though only two chairs were available for sitting. The real appeal here is a secret entrance into XL nightclub through a pair of glass reflective double doors. Sshhh, don't tell anyone: non-guests are supposed to use the 42nd Street entrance to the club.
As we said, our room faced the "Great Lawn"—their term for the courtyard visible from the open-air hallways that connect most of the rooms. Only problem is, the Great Lawn's size isn't so great, and it feels a little too plasticky to qualify as an actual lawn. Plus, the tall mirrors have an odd effect on the relatively small space, but at least they show up well in photographs.
On the other side of the Out NYC complex is the Sun Deck, which looks slightly more promising. Just like at the Great Lawn, all rooms face out towards the Sun Deck, but this space has the advantage of a giant glass-enclosed atrium, which, when it's done in April, will house two jacuzzis. Screw the beanbags, this is where we want to hang out!
There's still a bit of work to be done at this place, both atmosphere-wise and physically. The hotel felt like a cross between a space station, a day care center and a campsite. It wants to be futuristic, but also slightly playful, and also relaxed and communal at the same time. And maybe all of those things can happen—but we're going to wait until the warm weather hits, and the "Revive" wellness center opens, before we make that call.
Unfortunately, rates have climbed significantly since when we booked our room last month for $150. The "coming OUT special" is still providing 15% discounts, but even with that, a Superior King (the room we had) is up to $250/night. Knowing how little space you get (this building originally went up in 1959 as a motel, so really, what can you expect?), we'd have a hard time forking over that kind of money for a second stay.