“Former gentleman's club turned luxury hotel, serving up style, serenity and top-dollar food just steps from Times Square and Broadway”
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.
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.
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.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
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 can be arranged via the concierge.
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.
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.