I’ll always remember the Hotel Riu Plaza New York Times Square fondly, because it was here, while I chomped on my breakfast, that I witnessed my first New York snowfall. It was the mildest kind, the snowflakes gently sashaying down to the sidewalk, with the St Luke’s Lutheran Church across the street providing a suitably romantic backdrop. So you might suggest that I’m a tad biased.
Let me present my case, however, starting with breakfast. The one at the Riu is included in your tariff, which is almost unheard of in the Big Apple. The offerings may not be extensive but what few dishes they do, they do extremely well. You don’t have to believe me: the queues snaking into the lobby at peak breakfast time are sufficient proof. And you’ll never go hungry at the Riu. The hotel is part of a Spanish hotel chain, and they seem to have brought their sunny disposition and traditional sense of hospitality with them to New York. The waitstaff will always stop and chat with you, and make sure you’re well looked after. Breakfast is served at both the Theater Buffet and the Fashion Bar (the latter is quieter), while the Capital bar runs on a grab & go concept typical of New York. Even though it’s a no-frills hotel, the F&B venues have been conceptualised with some thought and a lot of nice aesthetic touches.
The rooms are perfectly adequate and practical, nice even, and just what you need in a city like New York, because it’s the sort of place that draws you out, whose inexhaustible attractions you can spend hours and days exploring.
Last but not least, the location. Of course, the hotel is mere minutes from Times Square but it’s also very close to all the Broadway theatres. After my Phantom of the Opera show, I was back at the hotel in a matter of minutes. For the leisure traveller, there couldn’t be a better place to stay. Luckily, they’re building another one almost next door. The Riu Plaza is also located quite close to the city’s main subway lines, connecting you to all of New York’s boroughs. The 7 train, which is only six minutes from the hotel, will take you to Queens where you can visit Long Island City (where Amazon almost set up its hub). The A and C trains, a quarter mile from the Riu, will whisk you to Brooklyn where you can visit Prospect Park. The 3 train, also six minutes from the hotel, will take you to the Bronx and to the complimentary ferry that plies to Staten Island and from which you can get the best views of the Statue of Liberty.
I enjoyed my time at the Riu Plaza. The views of Manhattan from my room, which was on one of the higher floors of the 29-storey property, will remain etched in my memory for a long time.
Accomodation: 647 rooms