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New York City is always pushing the envelope, from its architecture and embrace of technology to its sense of fashion and love of the arts. That same pioneering spirit shines at the 130-room Luma Hotel Times Square, which addresses hospitality needs with bright ideas.
Before my family and I checked into Luma — which opened in May 2017 — we stood across the street to get a better look at its 28-floor exterior. Bookended by a pair of classic older buildings, the new hotel’s all-glass exterior seemed to shimmer.
As we stepped inside, our eyes were drawn to a feature wall of blue-and-black steel that was dramatically backlit. Custom lighting enlivened the reception desks. The ground-level interiors were small but not crowded, thanks to an open design flow between the lobby lounge, restaurant and bar.
Equally sleek, our guestroom provided a setting at once modern and comfortable, with innovative space-saving touches. A hidden drawer under the bed stored a hairdryer, a makeup mirror, an iron and a noise-canceling machine (although our room was remarkably quiet on its own). A Nespresso machine was tucked into a credenza, but it was easy to access.
The recurring theme of light played throughout our room, from the lively accent wall above our headboards to the white tile in the bathroom. Generous windows let in loads of natural light while treating us to views of Manhattan. When it was time to sleep, the push of a button triggered motorized blackout shades and sheers.
Robots and CaviarLuma promises something it dubs “next-generation hospitality,” a commitment it keeps in many ways. Take, for instance, its Glow Concierge program, with various wellness and lifestyle amenities for clients. The Glow Concierge team arranges for everything from an in-room beauty makeover to a specialty smoothie or wholesome lunch. Also, if clients prefer not to use the nearby Blink Fitness center — which is free for guests — the staff can send workout equipment to their room.
Starting later this summer, when clients need something extra such as towels or room service food, they can summon the Relay Hospitality Robot. An automated employee on wheels, the robot will bring the requested item straight to the guestroom door. Luma is one of the first U.S. East Coast hotels to provide this offering.
Luma further demonstrates its dedication to creativity at the lobby bar, where guests can stop by each afternoon for a gratis glass of sangria. We took advantage and found it to be an inspiring segue from day to night.
Among Luma’s most dazzling features, however, is its restaurant Ortzi, which is the Basque word for sky. During an evening meal, we savored tapas-style food masterminded by James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Garces. My appetizer of toro (bluefin tuna belly) was laced with olive oil and a delicate layer of caviar. A bowl of succulent zarzuela (seafood stew) was swimming with red prawns, mussels, calamari and noodles. The flavors and textures took old traditions to new directions, much like the hotel itself.
We loved Luma’s location. It was mere steps away from Bryant Park, one of my favorite Big Apple hubs with its petanque players and outdoor yoga classes during the warm months and ice skating in the winter. From the hotel, it was an easy walk to tourist lures such as Times Square, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center.
Luma’s general manager Kate Martin summed up her hotel’s objective.
“We want to create an exclusive New York City experience that feels genuine and purposeful,” Martin said.
Indeed, Luma has raised the bar with its fresh approach to forward-thinking hospitality.