Roger Smith, New York

Reviews / February 2, 2015

Contributor/ Amy Guttman

Best Known For
Location, location, location. Ask anyone familiar with the Roger Smith and the answer’s the same, “great location.” It’s a ten-minute walk to Grand Central, and the shopping Mecca that is Fifth Avenue. The MOMA is within reach, as is Central Park. The Roger Smith is also known for being independently owned, with a strong connection to the local arts scene cultivated through rotating showings of New York artists, as well as talks, lectures and exhibition space.

The Good Stuff
Yet again, the location. If its not in walking distance, this midtown area offers plenty of buses and subway options. There are also lots of nearby restaurants, from quick and cheap diners and cafes, to white tablecloths. Yogurt and granola are available in the lobby round the clock, handy for early risers, and also those crossing time zones. There’s an intangible factor about the Roger Smith, which makes it a dream – things work, and it’s easy. Lifts are fast and functional, climate control gets as cold or hot as a guest desires, and there’s refreshingly little to navigate. I know, these things should be standard, but we all know they’re not.

The Vibe
The small bar just off the reception area is ALWAYS full. In an area not absent of watering holes, this one is particularly busy, with a convivial vibe. Guests are a mix of American and European, of all ages.  With a strong art presence, and rooms stocked with books, the Roger Smith aims to attract a more intellectual crowd, though many stay for the very reasonable rates.

Inside the hotel – 7/10
Rooms are Granny-Meets-Grammercy, with comfortable furnishings that wouldn’t feel out of place in a spare bedroom. Our junior suite felt very much like staying with family, in the best possible way. It was a relief to reside in a room void of the typical hotel ware and made it all the better to come home to, after a day pounding the Big Apple’s pavements. Hotel staff are easygoing. You’ll likely never need them after checking in, but they’re happy to help organise fresh pastries, cake, and other goodies for celebrations.

Outside the hotel – 9/10
Grand Central, with subway lines and the getaway car to upstate New York, or Connecticut is a short walk. Fifth Avenue, the public library, Bryant Park and the Empire State Building are nearby, too. Good eats nearby, oh my… pop into Baked by Melissa at Grand Central, where the cupcake trend has moved on to bite-sized minis in flavours like chocolate chip pancake and PB&J.  The size of a quarter, these sweet little cake puffs are a bit less gluttonous than their bigger brethren.  For New York’s staple food, head just 5 minutes in the opposite direction to Ess a Bagel, for crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside bagels, hot and steaming first thing in the morning, but be prepared to queue.


 Image courtesy of Roger Smith

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Amy Guttman
As a child, Amy Guttman regularly cracked open the World Encyclopaedia to discover new, exotic-sounding locations on the glossy pages of the World Map, conjuring up images of locales like Bora Bora and Papeete. Ever since, she's chosen adventurous over mainstream, when given the chance.

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