By Terry Trucco
But maybe they just said lighten up.
The walls and ceiling are the color of whipped cream. Enormous mirrors paned in black offer a clever take on industrial loft windows — and double the space, visually at least. And the rectangular chandelier hugging the ceiling looks like it was formed from crystal icicles.
But most eye-catching – and arresting – is the centerpiece: a suite of dark velvet sofas embraced by a white stepped sculpture that calls to mind a ziggurat, a soft ice cream cone, The Jetsons, and maybe even a Mayan pyramid under a coat of spray paint.
Lighted futuristically from beneath, it has no business being in a sprawling room with 1920s inflections that include the original floor tiles and a lacy, wedding cake ceiling. And that’s exactly why it looks terrific, even if it must be murder for the hotel staff that dusts it.
All this is a huge departure from the lobby’s previous baroque appearance, with hooded chandeliers, faux-painted stone walls and lavender curtains that conjured a romanticized rendering of Miss Havisham’s digs (without the cobwebs).
It was high time for a change, especially after the 600-plus guest rooms received a smart new look in 2011 from the Rockwell Group (they were lightened up, too, with white walls and gray accents).
One detail left changed: this is still an old-style lobby, where you can check your messages from the comfort of a black velvet wing chair, plug in your laptop at a table fired up with chargers or curl up on a sofa with USA Today (paper copies line the coffee tables).
A new grab ‘n go stocks bottled drinks and mainstream snacks near the check-in desk. But there’s no pressure to order cocktails or coffees to gain admission.
Sweeter still Affinia Manhattan hosts a Wine Hour featuring wines and fruit-infused waters for guests. The nightly event is offered at all four Affinia hotels, including Affinia Dumont, Affinia Shelburne and Affinia 50.
So if you’re staying at the Affinia 50 but wrapping up a late-afternoon meeting near Madison Square Garden, you can stop by the Affinia Manhattan for a glass of wine – and check out the new lobby.