So, after tramping around for more than a week so far to different hotels, seeing the amenities, etc. etc. here's an observation:
Visitors who come to New York for the first time will judge it on three things: the streets, the subway, and the hotel they stay at. I used to have serious cognitive dissonance when I heard people talk about New York as this inherently fashionable and stylish place, because I saw Times Square, and guys hacking through the garment district, secretaries in pants suits on their lunch break in Bryant Park, and none of it seemed that stylish to me. Fashion and style were restricted to very wealthy, somewhat inbred folks who descended on my neighborhood during Fashion Week and then disappeared again.
But now, having seen some of these hotels - I get it. There's one down by Gramercy Park where each room is different, the air has a trademarked smell - excuse me, scent - and original Warhols and Hirsts dangle from the walls. There's another that's an entire city block wide and has ballrooms that would have fit in perfectly on the Titanic. There's another boutique hotel with a lobby that's the kind of casual it takes millions to perfect, with soundproofed windows and door so as soon as you enter, the East Side just vanishes. People judge New York by the lobbies of the hotels they stay at.