By Terry Trucco
It takes a certain bravura for a hotel to name its rooms Spectacular, Fantastic and WOW.
W hotels have done this for over a decade, of course. Still, one person’s WOW is another’s meh. And what happens when age sets in, as it inevitably does? Nothing looks as forlorn as a trend-conscious hotel pushing ten without a facelift or, at the very least, fresh clothes and make-up.
A year ago W Union Square perched on this slippery slope. Its restaurant looked worn (we spotted a large rip in a leather banquette). Its guest rooms sported the dark woods and muted trappings that personified SoHo chic, ca 2000. But that was 2011.
To celebrate its 12th birthday this year W Union Square renovated big time – rooms, restaurant, banquet hall, nightspot, the works (the Living Room, aka lobby seating area, still stuck in the millenium, is up next).
Given the landmark status bestowed on parts of the building – built in 1911 as headquarters
for Guardian Life Insurance of America, the building’s spiral staircase and mile-high ceilings are glorious – the hotel designers never had a blank canvas. Rooms were carved up from offices. Upper floors, once used as storage areas, boast small windows.
But the renovation took care of the elements the hotel could control. And how does the W look?
We saw a pair of suites – one a Cool Corner, the other Fantastic. If Tangerine Tango, Pantone’s amped up 2012 Color of the Year, pumps your pulse, read on.
Room shapes are one perk bestowed on W by its historic never-intended-as-a-hotel digs.
Yes, the smallest are pretty teeny. But ceilings are high, and there was nothing cookie cutter about the rooms we saw even though they sported the same palette – gray walls, and carpeting, the latter sprinkled with a squiggles, and accents of royal blue and full-throttle persimmon.
The clever furniture looks – and is — custom designed: a square-back sofa upholstered in lizard-imprinted leather and linen, a single showy metal leg on the desk, a pendant lamp shade upholstered in tufted silver lame. Credit the look – an easy mix of contemporary style
Since this a W, there’s the requisite dollop of sex, a tad less obvious than at some properties. (Photo images of leather footwear emblazon the silky throw pillows.)
We liked the curtains edged in men’s necktie fabric, too. Fifty shades of . . . . fun.
Our favorite detail was the blue leather upholstered divider in the Fantastic Suite (translation: junior suite) separating the sitting area from the sleeping area. The flatpanel TV, backed by a mirror, swiveled, so you could look at whichever side you wanted wherever you happened to be.
Todd English’s Olives restaurant sports a spiffed up look, too, complete with new leather chairs (more Tangerine Tango). As for Lilium, the subterranean nightspot that replaced Underbar, the ceiling is covered in hand-gilded lilies. Sweet.