A biweekly staff review of East Coast and regional lodgings.
Day never seemed to dawn at Night, a vamp-boutique hotel in Times Square.
In any other city, this would be an inconvenience. In Cleveland, for example, I would like my lodging to tell me when it’s time to rise for breakfast. But in New York City, where the clock hands are too busy vogueing to pay attention to such trivialities as hours and minutes, I could survive on perpetual evening.
The 72-room property, which chic-ster Vikram Chatwal Hotels (see Dream, Stay and The Time, all in Gotham) opened six years ago, is an inky antidote to the floodlit square that seems afraid of the dark. The hotel sign, a simple rectangle with illuminated white lettering against a black background, resembles a thunder cloud floating above an electric rainbow. Inside, the entire palette, from lobby to eighth floor, curtains to carpet, is based on an Oreo cookie.
“It’s easy to decorate,” said the front desk clerk, who was dressed like a hip mortician. “It’s either black or white.”
While the hotel employee prepared my key — black card tucked into black matchbook-style holder with a white monogrammed “N” — I scanned the shelves of books behind his head. I tried to read the titles, then realized the futility of this exercise: The books hadn’t been chosen for their literary worth but for their ebony and ivory jackets. Somewhere, Truman Capote winked. (One work I could view up close was the Kama Sutra, which bumps the Bible from the nightstand drawer. “It’s the tasteful kind,” said a staffer, “not a how-to manual.”)
During previous stays in Times Square, I’ve often experienced an overwhelming urge to curl up into a protective ball and cover my ears against the loud circus noise that overwhelms the public spaces. At Night, however, the lobby and hallways were as quiet and still as a moonless cemetery. In the lobby, I sat like a lone werewolf on a cracked leather couch with speckled cowhide. Behind me, scantily clad sylphs and Iggy Pop-thin men posed in NC-17 photographs. They also followed me upstairs.
The Asian-fusion Red Moon restaurant and bar occupy the back half of the hotel, but both were closed during my Sunday-night stay. Room service was also dark that night, forcing me to prowl for food. I was in the mood for Indian cuisine, and a hotel employee tepidly recommended a nearby restaurant. I appreciated his honesty and mapping skills.
At Night, it’s always time for bed; falling asleep is another matter. Though my guest room was the size of a monk’s cell, it was crammed with curiosities. I grabbed a black pen and a white envelope from the desk drawer and started dividing the space into B and W.
On Team Ebony, the players included — ready, set, go — the chariot bed frame and padded leather headboard that swooped like a skateboarding ramp; the cushioned bench at the bed’s foot; the side table draped in a velvety fringed cloth; the wine bottle opener, napkins and stirrers; the desk, stool and CEO-style chair; the light switches and outlets; and in the bathroom, the soaps (wrapper only), shower curtain and octagonal wall tiles. The bath gel, thankfully, was blue.
Team Ivory was much smaller — Frette linens, a duvet as light as a summer’s cloud, towels — but I welcomed the blaze of brightness in the Batman cave. In addition, some of the furnishings swirled both colors together like a chocolate and vanilla ice cream cone. The busy patterned carpet, for example, and the wallpaper, which featured a creeping thistle design that seemingly sprang from an underworld garden.
I did leave one item unexplored: the contents of the fridge. Spooked by an internal motion sensor and the risk of setting off a giant bill, I refrained from taking a peek at its contents. (Nor would I dare store my own perishables and incur a $30 charge.) I hoped that the hoteliers had stayed on message and stocked the cooler with black truffles, white chocolate and the ingredients for black and white Russians.
Despite the lack of natural light — a sliver of a window overlooked a shadowy slot cave between buildings — I knew that day would eventually arrive. A printout of a weather forecast left in my room informed me that the world outside Night would be warm and full of sunbeams. But for a short time, I was content to hide out in the rare dark spot in Times Square.
132 W. 45th St.
Rooms from $279 a night.