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|Edwin Black||April 1st 2011|
For decades, the Paramount Hotel, just steps from Times Square, has been a major address for travelers to New York. Certainly, the hotel has always been known for its avant-garde, architectonic lobby, which creates its own energy; where chairs crafted from logs are stationed beneath the hubbub of busy mezzanine corridors. Of course, the Paramount has also been known as the small wonder of New York since the rooms have been traditionally considered “not even large enough to change your mind.” The theory was always that no one came to New York to spend time in their room—which is good, because there is virtually no room in the room—and that everyone came to New York to explore the city.
Exploration from the Paramount is supremely enabled from the hotel's prime location inches from Broadway, around the corner from Hell's Kitchen, a short walk from the best shopping, an easy stroll from a dozen great restaurants, and more or less in the middle of everything.The Paramount's most attractive attribute has always been a good price and the experience value of a chic, black-clad staff always at your service.
The good news is that as of 2011, the Paramount is better than ever. Under new management and far smarter executives, the Paramount has made the wise decision to expand its marketing, enable a true website, and break down a few walls to create what can be called a genuine suite—that is, Paramount style. True, Paramount suites are more or less just two rooms connected, but they are appointed to make one sleeping quarters and the adjacent room a spacious living chamber—all in one ensemble that makes the Paramount an even greater value and even greater attraction.
Through all the ups and downs of management, the Paramount has never lost its style or panache. Of particular interest this year is the second floor mezzinine restaurant. I won't give the name of this restaurant because its name and format changes so frequently—one never knows. But in its current trendy iteration, it functions as a breakfast room, a library, and a late-night bar. The food has always been excellent at the balcony restaurant, whether being consumed along the window seating, at the bar, or in the cool mezzinine tables rimming the lobby below.
Of course, Paramount regulars cherish their quick stops to the in-house Dean & DeLuca where they can pick up thick, bold espresso, tempting pastries, and well-assembled gourmet sandwiches, not to mention an assortment of chilled beverages with European names. But within a few minutes, guests can also practically fall into Juniors, Hell's Kitchen, the Blue Fin, or a few dozen other eateries nestled between Times Square, 9th and even 10th Ave.
When you visit the Paramount, you are always in the company of globetrotters. It seems that at least half if not two-thirds of the guests you meet are from Europe or another continent. That air only adds to the travel experience. This a not an especially family-friendly hotel; the rooms are small and chic, and the travelers ofte hail from the arts and sciences. It is well suited—and situated—for visitng New York for business or hefty tourism.
The good news is the Paramount is as good as it has always been—and probably better than it has ever been. So, when you're getting ready to plan your next New York visit, default as I do to the Paramount. For me, it is one of the two addresses I call home in Manhattan.
Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust. Because he travel to dozens of cities each year, he commonly reviews hotels.