Things could be so much worse. I might have turned into one of those
people who disapproves of trends. Can you imagine a gloomier fate? To be the
kind of person who, when anything really great comes along, feels that they're
supposed to say, “Well, it may look great now, but how do you think it's going
to look five years from now?”
Hotel QT -- André Balazs's new, no-frills
hotel, at 125 West 45th Street in Times Square -- looks terrific now, and in
five years it will look even better. While a trendy hotel rules, an obsolete one
is absolute. If a spot isn't hot, it can't cool down, and the heat can't come
back to haunt us.
“QT” is Winchell-esque irony: in the land of the
loudmouth gossipmonger, “quiet” meant “shhhout!” There was also a hot-shot
tipsheet back then called On the QT. Styling itself “the Class Magazine in its
Field,” On the QT published such tony twists on the genre as “Lesbian Suitcase
Girls of Greenwich Village” and “Buddy Hackett: New 'Rat' for the Ratpack?” A
spicy collage of its pages papers QT's
walls. We'll pretend we haven't read them.
Besides, there's too much else to look at. Looking --
peeping, actually -- is QT's design motif.
Designed by the immensely talented New York architect Lindy Roy, the hotel does
include one fabulous frill: a pool the size of a postage stamp, which graces the
ground floor. Just big enough for making a splash, the pool area can be glimpsed
through windows set into the walls that enclose it. For the seriously
enthralled, one side of the pool is flanked by a rank of bleachers. Fashionable
flesh as floor show: that's no-frills entertainment in the new Times Square.
Check-in at QT
also appears to be inspired by the performing arts. The counter, just inside the
front door, resembles an art-house ticket booth. A floor of concrete sidewalk
paving amplifies the box-office effect. A long corridor to the rear serves as an
elevator lobby. It leads past the pool area to a small bar. Upstairs, the rooms,
of which there are 140, range in size from broom closet to ship's cabin. All are
outfitted with nautical efficiency.
Good Evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and everyone else who
feels completely at sea in these trendy times.
It's pleasing to see a hotel design that builds on Times
Square's present strength as a magnet for media companies. With all the
complaining that goes on about the area's Disney-fication, people tend to lose
sight of the positive side of its redevelopment. Producers and consumers of
popular culture and information have been brought together in an unprecedented
concentration. In addition to Disney, the cast of media producers includes Condé
Nast, Reuters and MTV, as well as the paper for which Times Square was named.
There's something for every sense around here -- and now
a place to sleep off sensory bombardment. In fact, QT would make an ideal weekend getaway for
New Yorkers who want to escape the distractions of home and catch up on the
distraction of movies. And if you're a person after my heart, you will duck
across 45th Street and pay homage to one of the holiest sites in hot-spot
heaven: the Peppermint Lounge, the place where the Twist got its start, and
perhaps the 1960's along with it. It was located directly opposite the hotel.
And though the lounge is gone, the spirit of Joey Dee lives on.
The Twist socialized the body. Suddenly, personal
familiarity with the sacroiliac was no longer restricted to doctors, athletes
and ecdysiasts like Virginia “Ding-Dong” Bell. Everybody had a spinal cord.
City life descended to the lumbar region, and has more or less stayed there ever
since. This is the physical genealogy from which QT's aesthetic descends.
Roy's design is body conscious. The lines are sinewy,
the palette fleshy. In the bar, there are banquettes of pink leather and mohair,
with additional seating on cork stools. The room is wrapped in panels of buff
In the hallways upstairs, the ceilings are imprinted
with patterns of wavy hair. Will they change the wave, the color, the cut, as
fashion demands? Vitruvian Man and Woman will feel right at home in the
diminutive rooms. Everything is within reach of a well-toned arm. Except for a
smart little table and a chair, the furniture is built-in. The table swivels. So
But all this hotness is getting to me. Time to cool
down. Fancy a dip? Let's swim tonight, like we did last summer 44 years ago.
Photo: At Hotel QT, liquid refreshment comes in many
forms, as guests can take a plunge in plain sight of the bar; bleachers flank
the other side. (Photograph by Matthew Hranek)