Essentially every inch of Manhattan is bustling, cramped, scattered with people. Each neighbourhood has its moments, of course, but the crux of New York City craziness has to exist in Times Square. It is arguably the most tourist-driven part of the American destination, and also the most stereotyped—flashing lights, honking horns, yelling vendors. Smack in the middle of it all, though, is a newly opened boutique hotel that pays homage to its surroundings while at the same time removing itself from them.
The light-up blade marks the spot of Hotel Shocard, but its large, matte black door with dot-pattern windows seeps into the building, a sign that what lies inside is not quite so flashy. Inhabiting a space that used to be a hostel, the modest hotel offers all of the necessary creature comforts in a location that any theatre buff would drool over. “The hotel was really inspired by the ‘60s and ‘70s era of Times Square—it was not meant to be the very cleaned up, shiny, new version. It was meant to draw from a grittier era,” says general manager Alicia Luke. “A lot of it is definitely theatre-themed, but it doesn’t feel kitschy or like Disney World.”
The hotel takes its name after the Broadway show cards used to advertise productions in nearby shop windows. Designed by Brooklyn’s Mapos (one of the few hotels the firm has done), the Shocard excels in its subtlety. The friendly signature yellow accented throughout the property is that classic show card colour inspired by a theatre spotlight, and the dot matrix pattern seen on the outside door is echoed everywhere, from the shower tiles, to the perforated bedside table lamps—an ode to the pattern of a show’s marquee light bulbs. Retro touches round out the experience, from the patina brass in the washrooms, to the ‘70s-inspired clocks next to the beds. Rooms are modestly sized, but really have everything travellers need (including Gilchrist & Soames bathroom amenities)—and that lets the staff focus on the most important thing: the guest. “That’s the goal at the end of the day: getting the basics of hospitality right,” says Luke. “A clean room and honestly friendly service.”
And the staff certainly is incredibly warm and welcoming, with none of the New York harshness that exists out on the streets; lobby employees love to offer up recommendations, and will make efforts to know guests by name. The hotel also offers to book theatre tickets for visitors, highlighting some of the lesser-known but equally valuable productions at any of the iconic Broadway theatres. (The cast of nearby shows are known to stop by the hotel’s onsite Irish bar Gleason’s Tavern post-show, as well.)
The penthouse suites offer a special vantage point, boasting private rooftop space with aerial views of the wild city below. And as such, the Hotel Shocard is a symphonic mix of distance from and proximity to the uninhibited side of Manhattan, allowing guests to revel in the bagels, the “caw-fee”, the Broadway tunes—but also to eliminate themselves from it, to find refuge, without ever actually having to leave.
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