In 1956, 21-year-old tour operator Gabriel Escarrer Juliá entered the hotel business by acquiring a 60-room property on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Majorca.
Evolving through acquisition and consolidation, what became Meliá Hotels International is today Spain’s largest hotel company and a European and global leader with a nine-brand portfolio of some 374 properties in 40 countries on four continents. Global expansion initiatives included bringing German lifestyle hotelier INNSiDE into the fold in 2007.
Opened in 2016, INNSiDE by Meliá New York NoMad (132 West 27th Street, New York, NY. Tel: 212-951-1000. melia.com) is the brand’s North American flagship. For local staycations, or as a prime tourist base, this four-star retreat is an LGBTQ+ magnet combining a sweet spot location with hotspot amenities.
Gay Travel-approved and certified as a “Committed Queer Destinations Hotel” by leading international LGBTQ+ tourism company and IGLTA affiliate Queer Destinations, the hotel is all about warm welcomes from the heart. All staff undergo LGBTQ+ sensitivity training, and at every interaction, from check-in to housekeeping, the well-versed team makes you feel right at home.
While combining work with play is an INNSiDE by Meliá brand standard, the vibe, harking back to founder Juliá’s passion for leisure, is decidedly laid-back.
Changing seasonal floral displays from renowned custom floral designer Floracracy and site-specific artworks set a flourishing tone for arrival. Installed in the bright subway-tiled lobby, five commissioned prints by acclaimed illustrator Kirsten Ulve, including the evocative “NYC” showing Times Square flanked by the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, convey a fetching sense of place, along with the “doodle-style” street maps in the elevators by British artist Dave Draws.
The hotel has 313 bright, contemporary rooms in 11 styles. Upper-floor City View rooms, five with outdoor terraces, offer absorbing Midtown and Downtown panoramas, including NYC’s iconic rooftop wooden water towers. Landmarks visible from my south-facing 18th-floor Queen City View included the Freedom Tower, while my north-facing 19th-floor King City View offered glimpses of Times Square and the Empire State Building’s spire.
In-room amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi; Nespresso coffee machine; flat screen TV with USB and Bluetooth connectivity; yoga mat; and minibar with complimentary water, soda, and juice. The modern bathrooms include a spacious rain shower.
Located on the top 20th floor, the 24-hour fitness center features scenic south-facing views and modern equipment, including multifunctional bodybuilding, toning, and stretching machines, Wexer-powered Virtual Cycle Room, and Swiss yoga balls
The INNSIDE’s signature dining experience, The Wilson (eatatthewilson.com/nyc) is a great culinary catch that I highly recommend along with the hotel. Accessed directly from the lobby, this all-day bistro-style restaurant and bar from NYC-based In Good Company (IGC) Hospitality is the spacious stage for Executive Chef José Molina’s well executed “where the coast meets the curb” seafood-driven menu.
My mouthwatering medley included East Coast oysters, crispy rice with lobster, and Brussels sprout tacos with Thai chili and pepper jam. My main dish, Tuscan-style brick-pressed roasted chicken with cherry peppers, was cooked to perfection. Creative and classic cocktails, global wines, sinful desserts, and topnotch service round out the appeal.
The dining extends to an outdoor patio, covered in the colder months, and to an expansive lower-level area featuring a giant moss wall mural by renowned Miami botanical design studio Plant The Future.
“Wilson” riffs include a replica bloodied volleyball from the 2000 Tom Hanks film Cast Away and framed portraits of Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson, actor brothers Owen and Luke Wilson, singer Wilson Pickett, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
Filling an authentically urban alleyway at the back of the hotel, Wilson’s Rose Garden is a seasonal open-air patio canopied with colorful umbrellas and featuring floral walls, string lights, and playful Love-themed murals by Brooklyn barber-turned-artist John Westbay. The whimsical venue is for light bites, signature cocktails, and pop-up activations. The hotel has hosted Pride events and kicked off a new partnership with NYC’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (leslielohman.org), the world’s only dedicated LGBTQIA+ art museum, in June 2023.
“Stay Curious” is a key brand expression, geared to encouraging guests to explore locally. Located on West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, the hotel is ideally situated for getting out like a New Yorker in three of Manhattan’s most dynamic neighborhoods, Chelsea, NoMad (north of Madison Square Park), and the Flatiron District.
Serving as the names of the hotel’s three versatile meeting rooms, the trio’s collective bevy of cultural, dining, and outdoor attractions offers options galore for weekend or longer stays.
Dating to 1686, Madison Square Park (madisonsquarepark.org), which housed the Statue of Liberty’s torch bearing arm from 1876 to 1882, is for lazing the day away surrounded by landmarks including NYC’s first skyscraper, the 1902 Flatiron Building.
Featuring provocative exhibits and interactive fun on multiple levels, the nearby Museum of Sex (museumofsex.com) provides frolicking foreplay for first dates and lovers alike.
Paying suitable homage to the gay Irish playwright, nearby Oscar Wilde NYC (oscarwildenyc.com) is an extravagantly decorated eyeful for dining and cocktails, including NYC’s longest bar.
Steps from the hotel, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is a cradle for young talent in art and design, including fashion, jewelry, packaging, and toys. The acclaimed free-admission Museum at FIT (fitnyc.edu/museum) displays student works and other exhibitions. The students themselves are a walking style lab.
Style mavens can also peruse the preeminent vintage couture and designer fashion collection at New York Vintage (newyorkvintage.com).
Stretching to the Hudson River, quintessentially gay Chelsea abounds with bars, restaurants, museums, and galleries. Key attractions include The High Line (thehighline.org), a former elevated rail line transformed into a walkable park running from the Meatpacking District to Hudson Yards; the block-long Chelsea Market (chelseamarket.com) food hall, housed in the former Nabisco factory complex where the Oreo was created; and the famed Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org).
If you get hungry before returning to INNSiDE by Meliá New York NoMad, stop in for a meal at Fonda (fondarestaurant.com) where gay chef Roberto Santibañez specializes in cuisine from Puebla, Oaxaca, and the Yucatan.