A year ago, it was an unsightly city parking garage in midtown New York, massive and toneless. Today, the parking garage has disappeared without a trace. AC Hotel New York Times Square, a sleek addition to the theater district’s myriad accommodations, has risen from the rubble of the garage to anchor a city block that is becoming friendlier and more vibrant right along with the new hotel.

Still shiny-new after opening in April of 2018, the AC Hotel New York Times Square — directly across the street from the New York Times building, coincidentally — is a sister property of the Marriott chain, one of two AC hotels in New York (the other is in the Financial District, on Maiden Lane).

Where many older hotels in this area have dark little rabbit warrens of lobbies and guest rooms, AC Hotel New York Times Square feels spacious and light. From the enormous, glass-everywhere lobby decorated with contemporary art to the guest rooms with their floor-to-ceiling windows, the hotel design enables you to see more of the New York City skyline and yes, the sky itself, the sun and the stars above.

The lobby is several stories high—enormous and open—featuring, among other things, a community table where guests can set up computers and work together, public-library style. As expected, Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. “AC” stands for Spaniard founder and owner Antonio Catalan, whose philosophy is “Hotels have the opportunity to be something better than a home, a place that removes the friction of normal life.” Catalan grew up in his family-owned inn in Barcelona, and both restaurants in the hotel reflect the Spanish influence.

Castell, the 21st floor tapas-style rooftop bar, has been discovered by New York City young professionals, who pour into the stylish outdoor garden terrace in warm weather and then enjoy the fireplace lounge during the winter for delicious cocktails and shared plates. The menu at Castell is divided into Tastes, Toasts, Salad, Plates and Sweets. The cocktails include six kinds of martinis, beers, wines and designer drinks. After a pretty “El Corazon” cocktail consisting of pisco, St. Germain, blood orange, passion fruit, egg whites, Tiki (Polynesian island) bitters and a decoration of star anise, and a classic Old Fashioned, we had the vegetable crudité with carrots so crisp they tasted as if they had been picked from the garden a few moments ago. Their dip was made from white almond hummus. We went on to avocado toast with feta, basil and seed spice, an enormous watercress salad with grapefruit, feta, pine nuts and mint, and a dry aged beef slider with blue cheese and caramelized onions.

In addition to macarons for dessert, you can also include a huge scoop of vanilla gelato served with a tiny pitcher of hot espresso on the side and several small biscotti that could be broken over the ice cream, the yummy combination mixes together for a heavenly end to dinner.

It was obvious that not only hotel guests enjoy Castell; the Friday night crowd had probably come in directly from work to meet friends and socialize, which they did in as great numbers downstairs on Sunday midday, to have brunch at Boqueria, which serves classic breakfast dishes with a Spanish twist, such as fried eggs with chorizo sausage, Mahon cheese and delicate French fries or Spanish scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms. Or Spanish egg tarts. Get adventurous and try the delicious cream-filled Spanish churros topped with chocolate frosting. Hotel Executive chef Marc Vidal interned at Can Gaig, a Michelin starred restaurant in his native Barcelona, and then worked in Paris at Maison de la Catalogne in South Beach, Florida, and Baqueria in New York and Washington D.C. before coming “home” to this property. He bring this dynamic work experience to this tasty menu.

There is certainly a lot to love about this new(ish) hotel stay in Manhattan, and AC Hotel New York Times Square is definitely worth the consideration the next time you are looking at your New York City hotel options…