It seems like a new hotel opens every other day in New York City, but one nabe with a surprising dearth of places to stay is downtown’s Union Square, which hasn’t seen a debut in ten years. Enter the new 178-room Paul Vega-designed Hyatt that launched in May. The oft-delayed property—it took over five years to complete—is challenging the notion that a corporate chain can showcase the kind of edge that so many travelers lust for when they touch down in the globe’s style capital—the sort you find south of 14th Street.
With the W and its neon-inspired brand of cool looming up the street, the Hyatt Union Square takes a Manhattan-avenue-sized leap away from its cookie-cutter convention. The first cue: Brinton Jaecks’s "Hypnagogia" sculpture, an interconnected chain of discarded wooden beds strung together, suspended in the airy brasserie-style restaurant, The Fourth.
Below it, the subterranean Botequim taps into the communal-dining fad so prevalent in neighboring East Village, turning out South American-inspired small plates in a space strewn with graffiti street art. In a building that once housed a nightclub, the lounge, Singl, channels some of that let-loose spirit with cherry-wood chairs and modern milking stools, and a curated house music loop that screams Ibiza beach party.
Still, the Hyatt’s first impulse is appealing to an international business clientele, albeit one with a penchant for haute digs. Rooms meet that standard: handsome oak floors, open-bathrooms with stone vanities and steel-framed mirrors, a sharp black-and-white aesthetic. Yes, there will be a fresh copy of the Wall Street Journal waiting outside the door come morning. But judging from the late-night crowd kitted out in skinny jeans and Warby Parker frames on a recent Friday night in Singl, this hotel for suits is rocking a loosened tie.
134 Fourth Ave.; 212/253-1234; hyatt.com. $$$
Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @StoreysTL.