Could a tiny hotel room meet my big expectations for a fabulous New York weekend
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CitizenM Bowery had me at the view – when your first experience of a hotel is the stunning New York City skyline from a rooftop bar, your stay is off to a glittering start.
We arrived just in time for the last call – no time to change our clothes or drop our bags in the room. I didn’t mind not changing after a cross-country flight but was tempted to stop in for a quick peek at the room. I was expecting to find a stylish and well-designed space, and knew it was tiny. But how tiny, was tiny? The room had to wait while we enjoyed the twinkling lights of lower Manhattan from CloudM, CitizenM’s 20th-floor rooftop bar.
CitizenM is a Europe-based hotel chain which offers what they call “affordable luxury”. The rooms are identical in size and style, all with a King bed. And not just in New York, but in all of their hotels; as of the summer of 2021 there are 20 locations, primarily in Europe, with a few in the U.S. and Asia, (and many more in development). The idea is that they can charge less for smaller rooms.
I had secured an amazing rate, just over $500 for three nights. This was on the heels of the pandemic, in June of 2021, and they were offering an extra discount for stays of three-nights or longer. I had also booked a couple of months ahead – I noticed the price did creep up closer to the date.
Drinks and views appropriately enjoyed, we made our way down to our room on the 7th floor. I opened the door and the first thing I noticed was the soft lighting and that it was a pretty mauve colour. The walls are actually white but you can add colour with the touch of a button on the in-room MoodPad (iPad). The next thing I noticed, after I opened the blind, was the stunning view. Since CitizenM is the tallest building in the Bowery area where it’s located, the room views are amazing. We had a west-facing view, I’ve since read east facing are even better. I think you can’t go wrong.
Small but Smart - the Rooms at CitizenM
And yes, the room was tiny, it’s around 150 square feet. But it reminded me of a cabin on a ship, in that every square inch of space seemed to have a clever purpose. The open closet was just big enough for our items and and there were open shelves above it. The vanity was separate from the shower and toilet area and had lots of shelves as well. And the bed had built-in drawers beneath it; I was able to easily fit my non-hanging items, with lots of room to spare.
The bed was a very generous sized King, tucked in at the end of the room. I will say that the bed could be a sticking point for some people. It is enclosed on three sides – between the two walls and next to the window – so there’s only one way out or in.
If there are two of you one might have to climb over the other, in the middle of the night for example. It was no problem for us. I was with my husband and having to navigate a bed tucked next to an epic view of New York City was one of the easier things we’ve had to do in 21 years of married life and kids.
The vanity had a single sink which could also be an issue if you are used to double sinks and like to spread out. At home I am used to having my own sink, but I didn’t mind it here.
There were also some really clever design touches that made it feel like an adorable apartment in Tokyo or Hong Kong where square footage is in short supply. The table lamps don’t have bases to create more space, for example, but perhaps my favorite thing was the mini-fridge in the vanity (it’s shallower than a typical fridge). It was wisely left empty rather than stocked with pricey mini-bar items. I added a bottle of Chablis and still had space for the doggy bag I brought home the next night, when I couldn’t quite finish my delicious dinner.
The bed itself was an XL King and one of the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve slept in. That said, I would have liked a sheet under the summer-weight duvet to give more options for anyone (me) who tends to get hot. The room’s iPad/MoodPad controls the lighting as mentioned, as well as mood music and temperature.
I liked that the shower and toilet were separate from the vanity and the rainfall shower head was enjoyed by my husband; I prefer a traditional shower head so was glad there were both. I also liked that the toiletries were large re-fillable bottles, rather than the little single-use disposable ones.
Other touches I appreciated were the full-length mirror and hooks at the entry and the flattering vanity lighting. The beuatiful lighting throughout the room made me appreciate what a big part of creating a comfortable feeling it plays. (I’d like the CitizenM lighting genius to work their magic in my bathroom at home.)
There was also a Nelson-style pendant in the corner, a small desk with a comfy, contemporary armchair and a small bench. Although there were no bedside tables, the desk served that purpose on one side and a ledge that runs parallel to the window did the job on the other. Am I the only one who has a lot of items that need a spot on my bedside table?
Amenities at CitizenM Bowery Hotel
I found the service to be friendly and efficient at CitizenM Bowery. Check-in was quick, although we were the only ones there. After your first stay, you can use the same key for future contactless check-ins – you even select your room on the CitizenM app.
CitizenM is unconventional to be sure. There’s no concierge for example. But there is a “living room” – essentially a stylish and art-filled common area for working and socializing. On Friday it was full of people on laptops and more empty on the weekend.
There is also a Canteen next to the living room which serves food 24 hours (no room service however). And a breakfast buffet is available daily for an additional charge. The food looked tasty and was well priced for Manhattan. I didn’t get a chance to try anything this time. (It’s New York and I had a lot of restaurant reservations.) There’s also a gym which I didn’t use; it’s supposed to be small but well-designed, like everything else here.
CloudM Rooftop Bar - CitizenM Bowery
I mentioned that the CloudM rooftop bar made an excellent first impression. It was a huge perk of this hotel. In fact it’s quite large with both an indoor and outdoor space (CloudM can be enjoyed year-round) and the floor-to-ceiling windows offered equally gorgeous views from inside. Like most New York rooftop bars the cocktails are pricey, but I think cocktails with a fabulous view are always worth the splurge.
The decor throughout was creative and colourful and I liked the emphasis on local artists. If you prefer a more serene aesthetic it might not appeal to you. But I felt the rooms were very serene.
We had a wonderful long weekend in New York and I can’t ever remember paying so little for a three-night stay. And there’s another reason I am pleased I loved CitizenM Bowery, even more than I expected, a travel-related ulterior motive.
I also really like affordable hotels in Europe. When I left CitizenM Bowery I hung on to my key cards – I’m hoping the next door they open will be at the CitizenM Champs Élysées Paris or CitizenM Copenhagen.
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More Hotel Reviews
I will continue adding content about New York City in the coming weeks. In the meantime I’ve written other hotel reviews you might enjoy. Here are a few of my favourites: