City Club Hotel

nr Times Square, Midtown NYC, United States Book from US$169

Reviewed by Antonia Short
Former gentleman's club turned luxury hotel, serving up style, serenity and top-dollar food just steps from Times Square and Broadway
Times Square isn't exactly short of hotels, so you know you're doing something right if Vogue editor Anna Wintour and heiress Lulu de Kwiatkowski are first in your visitors' book. Ardently preserving the cachet of the gentleman’s club it once was, City Club lavishes you with luxury. Lovingly restored mahogany-framed windows, antique books and circa-1900 maps make you feel like you've landed the keys to a distinguished home, not a 65-room hotel. The only giveaways are the Ted Baker-liveried staff, Daniel Boulud’s coveted cuisine in the kitchen - and Manhattan's fastidious foodies queuing to try it.

The lobby is deliberately diminutive (no grand entrances here), as is the mezzanine lounge, but there's plenty of space where you need it most (bedroom and bathroom). There's a pre-dinner drinks area at DB Bistro Moderne (till 11pm), but if you're after all-night cocktails, you've a million bars and the glitz of Midtown within stumbling distance... and a party-free zone to return to so you can get some serious sleep - in the city that never does.

Highs

  • Central location with Fifth Avenue shopping, Times Square and Broadway's theatres just minutes away
  • Daniel Boulud’s award-winning cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and room service, too)
  • Top-notch extras: Frette bed linen, Dean & DeLuca gourmet treats, C.O. Bigelow products, handmade cookies at turndown
  • We liked the natty all-in-one remote for lights, heating and entertainment
  • And the shelf-fuls of novels to borrow, the free WiFi, and the NYTimes outside your door every morning

Lows

  • The décor is beginning to look a little tired, but a rolling hotel-wide refurb is underway
  • Some rooms look out over a less-than-glamorous internal lightwell, and those overlooking 44th Street can be a little noisy as they have original windows
  • Small wardrobe area with limited hanging space and shelves
  • The guest lounge is tiny: no cosy sofas nor a full bar, just a drinks area with tables and chairs

Best time to go

New York is most welcoming in spring and summer, when the threat of extreme (scorching or freezing) temperatures is at its lowest. The run-up to Christmas is also a great time to visit, when Central Park's outdoor ice rink is open and awe-inspiring trees appear.

Our top tips

For killer cocktails head to The Campbell Apartment, tucked away above Grand Central Station.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 65
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Passes for a nearby gym
Room:

Rooms

City Club might be billed as a small luxury hotel, but there’s no scrimping on space where it matters. Both bathrooms and bedrooms are generous by New York standards, and gadgetry abounds.

Luxurious Honduran woods, library-esque wall-mounted lamps and hand-combed plaster wallpaper create a tactile mix of cosy creams and chocolate browns. It's a subtle, classy kind of stylishness, not an ultra-modern, in-your-face one. Frette linens tempt you to bed, Dean & DeLuca goodies to the minibar, and C.O Bigelow toiletries to your Italian-marble rain shower.

But don’t be fooled by the appointments. Designer Jeffrey Bilhuber has made every effort to make this a home from home, thoughtfully concealing abominable hotel appliances (minibar, travel iron, safe box) in the wardrobe, and adding iPod docks, clock radios and comfy bathrobes (but sadly no tea-making facilities). There's more than a hint of old-meets-new-world, too: framed discs, antique books and - most delightful of all, in most rooms - a comfy, cushion-strewn daybed that begs you to curl up with a book by your Dickensian lead-paned window.

Petite Rooms are not as small as you might think (195 sq.ft.), but all overlook the internal lightwell. Queen Luxe Rooms (most with the same lack of view) are 50% bigger. The King Luxe Rooms are not only bigger again (365 sq.ft.) but also much brighter and airier; some have city views and bathtubs. If you want a guaranteed view of the street rather than a brick wall, choose a Luxe Double Double Room with 2 double beds, or one of the 3 spiral-staircased Grand Duplex Suites. With their 20ft-high corniced ceilings and doors opening onto small terraces, the latter are particularly wonderful - and can be joined together if you're coming as a small group and want the very best.

All in all we felt the rooms were comfortable, and understated but not under-designed; our only gripes were the minimal wardrobe space, occasional noise from the street and corridor, and the overall darkness of the inward-facing rooms.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

As you enter DB Bistro Moderne from the lobby, the first thing you’ll notice is the throng of people (book ahead to be sure of a table); the second, that there's no bar. A floor-to-ceiling wine display stands where you’d imagine one to be, with a pair of high tables opposite making up the drinks area - neatly sandwiched between the restaurant’s 2 dining rooms. If you’re in the mood for something fun, eat street-side, where flamboyant flower prints match the lipstick-red walls. The back room is furnished with starched-tablecloth sophistication - striped banquettes, Stephen McKay chandeliers and a mirrored backdrop.

Once the menu makes an appearance, you realise design is not the focus here. French/American may not sound like a convivial culinary coupling, but the bestselling foie gras and black truffle burger stands testament to chef Daniel Boulud’s acclaimed fusions. If you find this a tad fussy, stick to French classics like the sautéed lemon sole, coq au vin or duck confit. The restaurant also provides a room service menu for those who don't want to venture beyond the comfort of their daybed.

Breakfast (not included in room rates) is a similar story - the home-baked brioche will transport you to France, the baked madeleines to heaven; only the eggs left us unmoved.

For a lighter bite, skip DB's opulence in favour of Japanese fare at nearby Koi, go Greek at Kellari, or hit the Red Flame Diner a few doors down for the quintessential New York diner experience.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: out of date
Activity:

Activities

  • Staying at City Club, you’re likely to taxi through Times Square at least once. To get to the heart of the place, drop into the Times Square Visitors' Centre at 1560 Broadway

  • Whether you love or hate visiting cathedrals, St Patrick’s is as dramatic as they come, and definitely worth a look

  • Venturing upwards to view the world’s most famous skyline is obligatory in New York. The Empire State Building has a cramped viewing platform compared to the Rockefeller Centre. At Christmas the Rockefeller tree is a must

  • Add a soupçon of glamour to your stay by sampling the oysters at Grand Central Terminal - and soak up the majesty of one of the world’s most famous stations on your way out

  • Art lovers won’t know where to start at The Metropolitan Museum, where classical and modern art are housed with enough artefacts to keep you wandering around for days

  • If that's not enough, head to MoMA where, amid gasps of delight and the unsanctioned snapping of cameras, visitors come face to face with world-famous works from the likes of Picasso and Warhol

  • You can request a yoga instructor to come to the hotel, or you can take part in a class nearby - either can be arranged through the concierge

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome and this is a great central location for them. Bring a baby by all means, but be aware that they don't have baby cots; the spiral staircases in the Grand Duplex Suites might be tricky with toddlers.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Grand Duplex Suites (sleeping 4) are great for families, with 1.5 bathrooms and flat-screen TVs on both floors. All 3 suites can join together to sleep 12.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged via the concierge.

Children's meals:

This is where it gets tricky - the gourmet food here is not as well suited to a child's palate as an adult's. Maybe the solution is to take them to a nearby diner for tea (there are plenty) and book a babysitter for the evening so you can indulge. There are no kettles in the rooms, no baby food heating facilities and no self-catering options, making this better for older kids.

Kids Activities on site:

  • DVD library

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Rockefeller building plus viewing platform - walking distance
  • Times Square - walking distance
  • Grand Central Station - walking distance
  • Nintendo World Store - walking distance
  • Bryant Park (for ping-pong, carousels, gardens and a pond) - walking distance

Families Should Know:

Light sleepers might not like the noise (it's natural if you're in the heart of New York though). Staircases don't have stairgates and won't suit very young families.

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 10-15 minutes
  • Grocery store: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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