As stylish as the Madison Avenue boutiques a few blocks away, The Roger hotel in midtown Manhattan is a true New Yorker. The lobby is fashion-show fabulous display of herringbone wooden floors, blue-velvet chaises longue and Mad Men-evoking houndstooth chairs. Upstairs, bedrooms are decorated with striking noir shots of iconic local spots, and many have views of the Empire State Building.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability (and a half-day charge). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £131.80 ($181), including tax at 14.75 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of $3.50 per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $41.32 per room per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast (from $29.95 for the buffet) and a $39 facility fee which includes daily wine hour, morning tea and coffee, access to the Mac lounge and gym, and much more/
Get thee to the Lobby from 5pm to 6pm to drink your fill of free glasses of wine; the Roger's top-drawer take on happy hour. Take a closer look at the photos on display throughout the lobby: each is an otherwise unpublished celebrity shot – including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Jay-Z – taken in New York City.
At the hotel
Gym, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, radio, iPod dock, minibar, CO Bigelow bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Snag PH03 for its ample terrace, which has sunloungers, topiary and prime views of the Empire State Building. Inside, the corner room also has a spacious built-in closet if you plan to settle in. Downstairs, Executive room 1209 is one of the largest, with large windows facing north and west.
Bring cards or games to play in the lobby-lounge: it’s a bright, hip meeting spot, and the ideal place to hang out at the end of the day.
Rooms 505 (a Superior) and 615 (an Executive) are wheelchair-accessible, with roll-in showers.
Baby cots can be added to rooms free, and the restaurant can adapt meals for little diners. The hotel does not offer babysitting, but staff can fix you up with a local sitter ($20 an hour).
Grab a round two-person table near the windows, which are deep-set and have a striped window-seat that’s ideal for stashing purses and extra bags.
Madison Avenue modern.
Chef Julie Farias of hip local restaurant Goat Town consulted on The Parlour’s fanciful bistro-style menu, which includes soda-dipped fried chicken, an oyster po-boy and a short-rib burger. Dairy is a great bet here: the restaurant uses selections from Murray’s Cheese for – what else? – its grilled cheese and gooey, stringy macaroni and cheese. Breakfast goodies include pastries from Ceci Cela, granola from Sarabeth's, salmon from Petrossian deli, H&H bagels and a bespoke coffee blend from the Allann Bros in Oregon.
Sit at the five-seat lobby bar to try cocktails developed by cult New York bartender Johnny Swet. The house drink, the Roger, combines champagne, chocolate bitters and strawberry purée, and we like the summery watermelon martini,with citrus vodka, St Germain and fresh watermelon.
The bar serves drinks from noon until midnight; the restaurant keeps going all day from 6.30am until midnight.
The full lounge menu can be delivered to your room until midnight.
The Roger is on Madison Avenue in Murray Hill, near the Empire State Building.
The nearest airport to the hotel is La Guardia, which has flights from most major US cities on airlines including United (www.unitedairlines.com) and British Airways (www.britishairways.com).
Penn Station, the hub for Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) and the Long Island Rail Road (www.lirr.org) is just a short walk from the hotel. Grand Central Station, where you can hop on the Metro North (www.mta.info) to Connecticut and beyond, is a short cab ride away.
New York can be a driver’s nightmare. If you arrive by car, stow it in a garage for the duration of the trip to avoid traffic and the near-impossible street parking. The hotel offers valet parking for $55 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
In the shadow of the Empire State Building, the Roger is an ideal starting point for an architectural tour of Manhattan. Head there early to beat the crowds and take the elevator straight to the top to admire a bird’s-eye view of the city. Next, stroll down Madison to the wedge-shaped Flatiron Building, one of Manhattan’s tallest buildings when it was completed in 1902. Pause for lunch at the nearby Eisenberg’s Sandwiches on Fifth Avenue, a charming lunch counter with excellent egg-cream sodas. This is also an excellent place to go shopping. Dover Street Market concept store sells cult brands practically next door and if you stroll straight up Madison Avenue you'll see some of the biggest names in fashion, from Armani to Yurman. Then move from acquiring clothes to disrobing at the Museum of Sex, a couple blocks south from the Roger, which hosts – ahem – revealing exhibitions. Afterwards, reflect on what you saw in pretty Madison Park. See who's on the bill at Gramercy Theatre or see the Knicks in action at the famed Madison Square Garden arena. Later on, head over to Koreatown's Turntable Chicken for a karaoke singalong in a retro space.
Manhattan gets a Texan twang at barbecue joint Blue Smoke, where the rib sampler, pulled pork, brisket and hush puppies could fool any expert from the Lone Star State. Pop into the restaurant’s Bake Shop for cupcakes, miniature pecan pies and red velvet cake. Gastropub the Breslin dishes out British-inspired favourites: start your day with a Full English breakfast, lunch on beer-battered Long Island fluke and thrice-cooked chips, and tuck into grilled lamb chops for dinner. There’s a heady selection of traditional-style cask ales, local brews and cocktails too. Diners could probably spend a month at massive Italian emporiumEataly without ever sampling the same thing twice. Eat pizza, pasta or sandwiches there, or bring home fresh fish, Italian groceries and cured meats. Upstairs, the Birreria is a beer garden with supreme Gotham City views. Die-hard carnivores, get your fix at Wolfgang's Steakhouse, with a side of lobster mac and cheese; or blow the budget and book a table at much-loved, highly praised eatery Eleven Madison Park. Wood-beamed diner Black Barn brings hearty rustic fare to the inner city, Maysville's menu is designed to be washed down with their 100-plus whiskey selection and Ilili's dishes are a riotously flavourful mix of Lebanese and Mediterranean.
A few blocks away, on Broadway, No 7 Sub fashions creative and delicious sandwich combinations featuring breaded zucchini parmesan with crushed barbecue potato chips, a broccoli- and feta-filled taco, or a revamped cheesesteak with miso-infused cheese whiz. There are few better places for a burger than the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Though there’s often a long line, the café will reward patient diners with thick milkshakes, crisp fries and perfectly greasy cheeseburgers.
Flûte Bar & Lounge channels a Paris hangout, with a long champagne menu and French music. After an afternoon shopping and snacking at the Chelsea Market, pop down to its basement for revamped classics at The Tippler, where a frozen negroni (called the ‘snowgroni’) or smoky mescal cocktails are an ideal pre-dinner primer. Wonderfully welcoming Ward III will show you a very good time with its list of kickily named cocktails – we like the rum- and vermouth-splashed My Sharona.
Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team prior to review and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Manhattan and unpacked their architecture books and shopping bags, a full account of their city escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek the Roger hotel in New York City…
Black and white and chic all over, the Roger hotel couldn’t be more ‘New York’ if it were sipping a martini and carrying a Bloomingdales bag.
A strapping Madison Avenue resident that favours retro photography, houndstooth and bold stripes, the Manhattan hotel can hold its own in the style stakes compared to New York’s most glamorous inhabitants. Following a top-to-bottom revamp, the Murray Hill hotel reopened in the summer of 2012 with smart, simple rooms that pay homage to the classic New York aesthetic. A black-and-white photograph of an iconic NYC location tops every headboard, and many rooms look up at the nearby Empire State Building. The love for the locale extends into the room-service menu: macaroni and cheese is made with selections from beloved West Village cheese shop Murray’s; and the Big Apple’s cult bartender Johnny Swet devised a menu of juleps, martinis and champagne cocktails for the Parlour. Perhaps that’s why guests aren’t the only ones who like the chic, exposed-brick lobby-lounge: hip New Yorkers habitually duck into the bright, low-key spot for drinks and a break from the city bustle.