This Funky Hotel Is the Perfect Balance Between Save and Splurge
I stayed in citizenM Bankside in London in 2017 and was enthralled with the uniqueness of it so when an apartment mishap had us needing a place to stay, I jumped on the chance to stay at The citizenM Times Square. This fresh, funky Dutch hotel company has rethought every detail—right down to the Do Not Disturb sign.
Check-in is completely automated with a kiosk so you don’t need to explain your first name is spelled funny. They’ve shrunk down the rooms, but you hardly notice because the bed is king sized and there’s clever furniture and storage with smart lighting and temp control. There’s one iron in the whole place and it’s been moved to an ironing room on the second floor.
The lobby is also a living room, office, garden courtyard, restaurant, and bar. There are epic coffee table books to curl up with in front of the scent-diffusing fireplace and spunky art everywhere you look. They’ve replaced bell boys and room service with 24/7 access to decent food and drink so that no matter what timezone you think you’re in, you won’t go to bed without dinner.
The room is immaculately clean, with lots of bright light coming through a wall to wall window just above a comfortable wall to wall bed. There’s ample storage considering how tiny the room is with a coat closet by the door, a clothing closet behind a full-length mirror, and a huge drawer under the bed that fit both our duffle bags. A small desk sits between the bed and bathroom with a stool that tucks underneath and doubles as a footrest for the reading chair. All of the lights are dimmable and can be operated from the bed so you can turn everything off when it’s time to go to sleep. The privacy sign says “someone’s naked in here” which is very funny but I did prefer the functionality of the magnetic privacy sign in the Pod Hotel.
The room is identical to the one I stayed at in London except for the stuffed animal that looks like Dilbert. One of the ways citizenM keeps costs low is that all the rooms are identical down to the square inch. Their message is that they want everyone to have the best room but having every room the same means furnishings, lighting, and linens can all benefit from economies of scale.
The bathroom capsule
The bathroom looks like a capsule and has exactly zero sound privacy but is otherwise well designed. Luckily there are private toilets on the ground and top floors so you can do your business in peace. In the capsule, the toilet is in one half and the shower in the other. The capsule “door” in our room didn’t really close all the way but did I say already that it’s immaculately clean? That’s always the most important part to me (that and free second breakfast).
There are towel rods on both sides of the thing we will call a door. The shower has great water pressure and temp control. Instead of individual toiletries, they provide yummy smelling shampoo/body wash with AM and PM scent choices in big bottles mounted to the wall. Just outside the capsule, the bathroom vanity pulls a lot of weight with a lit mirror, sink, storage shelf, trash, fresh towels, fridge, and lamp.
The living room
The living room is the best part. It’s one wide open space with carefully designed sections that lend themselves perfectly to different activities. The couches in the center are great for chilling with a cup of tea (or wine) while you wait for your travel companions. The bar is a cheery place to turn strangers into friends (hi Steph!) and the mezzanine is equipped with outlets and apple computers. Wifi is everywhere and I had no trouble working and taking video conference calls. I’m sure in the warmer months, the garden courtyard is delightful, but when I was there it was a high of 14 degrees Fahrenheit and more than side-eye happened to anyone who looked like they might open the door.
During check-in, I opted for the $19 all you can eat breakfast buffet which includes espresso drinks 😜 I woke up early so I could get my money’s worth and squeeze in a second breakfast before they close at 11am. Two meals and three cappuccinos later I’d say I got my money’s worth! The buffet had hot oatmeal, bacon, eggs, potatoes, pancakes and an assortment of pastries. They even had adorable individual jars of fancy jam (a thing Europeans do) and I considered stealing some for a minute (a thing Americans do) until I remember how bad they are for the environment. In keeping with their cheekiness, the breakfast tray deposit says “Trolley is hungry. Please feed with dirty trays”.
The rooftop bar is just for guests and probably the most chill in all of Manhattan. citizenM pays staff on the European model which means that while a tip is always appreciated, getting a fair wage doesn’t rely on you ordering two over-priced martinis. Since my husband and I don’t drink alcohol, we usually avoid bars, especially downtown roof bars with great views of the city, but this was a very relaxed atmosphere where guests can just sit and read a book without the pressure of spending money.
There’s a growing disruption in the way we design spaces, and this hotel is at the forefront. Younger generations are saying fuck off to opulence, like robes and room service, and are more interested in rich experiences. By shrinking the individual room, where people don't spend much time anyway, there’s more room for dynamic spaces that draw people in.
At $169/night in the heart of Manhattan, The citizenM is the perfect balance between save and splurge—my kind of hotel! If you’re looking for the opportunity to meet other world citizens and a clean, comfortable bed, it could be your kind of hotel too. (They didn’t pay me to say that, I just really like it here.)