Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square review
Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square lobby | Credit: Hilton Hotels and Resorts

Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square: A New Hotel Above a Levitating Broadway Theatre

New Yorkers—not to mention engineering nerds worldwide—have been buzzing about this mega construction project since it began in 2019.

The Palace Theatre, a true icon of American entertainment history located at Seventh Avenue and 47th Street overlooking Times Square, was hoisted 30 feet skyward from the spot where it was built in 1913. Street-level retail space was built in the newly created vacant spot, the 1,700-seat theatre was secured above that, and a hotel tower was built above it all

In August 2023, that new hotel finally opened. It's called Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square, and Frommer's was among the first guests to stay overnight. The hotel was so new that the wraparound, cutting-edge digital signage that fronts the structure was still being installed during our stay.

Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square- how the Palace Theatre was moved
PBDW Architects presentation with New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

To appreciate what has been accomplished with this building project, officially called TSX Broadway, take a look at this diagram provided by PBDW Architects in an advance presentation with New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

On the left, the Palace Theatre is shown where it sat before the move. Performers like Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Josephine Baker, Shirley MacLaine, and Sarah Bernhardt all trod the boards here, and Citizen Kane held its worldwide premiere screening at the Palace in 1941.

On the right, you'll see how engineers planned for the theatre to hover amid all-new construction above a newly dug basement. This is more or less the plan that was executed. 

Before 2019, a DoubleTree hotel wrapped around and rose above the Palace Theatre. Those hotel rooms were demolished. The new Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square, which now starts on the 11th floor and goes up, is not a renovation of that old hotel; although the Hilton property reused some of the structural bones of the DoubleTree building, what's there now is new.

Meanwhile, the interior of the Palace Theatre, which was landmarked in 1987, was carefully preserved. (The fact that one of PBDW's partners sits on the city's LPC might have helped to streamline and validate the plan.)

The Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square's birth might have been complicated and steeped in drama, but the resulting hotel is remarkably simple in its intentions and design.

It's not loaded down with pretension, velvet-rope restaurants, spas, or even significant lounge areas. Essentially, the common areas amount to a modest 11th-floor lobby situated above the Palace Theatre, and, connected to the lobby, a counter-service eatery and bar with a narrow outdoor terrace. Other than a fitness center on another floor, that's it. This is not a hotel angling to be a hot nightspot or event space.

After all, there's no sense in trying to compete with the attractions of Times Square. The hotel's owners know guests will spend most of their time out exploring. Fittingly, the rooms reflect the on-the-go, easy-to-clean functionality that such tourists demand: laminate floors instead of carpeting (rooms are pet-friendly, with a fee), hooks and racks instead of closets, and, in bathrooms, showers instead of tubs. A lot of money clearly went into the very comfortable, pillow-laden beds.

This is room 3103. Automatic motorized blackout curtains come down whenever the room senses you're not inside.

Televisions are truly representative of the leading edge in corporate hotels—you can stream your own content or use the Netflix app with your own login, plus there's a huge slate of channels that goes far beyond the handful you usually get in a hotel room.

But once the curtains are opened (using a bedside button), the view of the city floods in. Only a few of the Tempo's rooms are directly above Times Square (those generally have numbers ending in -02 to -04) and they cost the most. The majority of rooms line the south side of West 47th Street instead. The views are less dazzling but this side of the street is quieter.

Through the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, I could look down and see the people lining up for Broadway show tickets at the TKTS booth in Father Duffy Square. That's the lesser-used name for the northern end of Times Square around West 47th Street. So yes, if you stay here, you could simply zip downstairs to grab a last-minute ticket to a show. You can also hear the distant clamor of buskers and sirens, but from 30 floors up, the noise isn't strong. 

My room had a comfortable swiveling chair placed right above this view; the chair was also well-situated for watching sunsets. Some rooms have Peloton equipment in the window and are marketed as "Wellness" units for a premium rate.

 Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square review
Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Hilton's limited-service Tempo brand debuted with this property. The corporation has suggested that the new name, which will be rolling out to at least 30 more locations soon, is designed to give guests a place to recharge and feel healthy. Or, as the company expressed it in a press release, Tempo is an "approachable lifestyle brand curated to serve a growing segment of 'modern achievers' who seek a hotel experience that reflects their ambition."

I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but glad it seems to translate into rooms that are comfortable, noticeably no-fuss, and designed to feel separated from the clamor of Midtown Manhattan. Outlets and charging ports are plentiful and located on both sides of the beds. You also get an empty fridge to use (helpfully, the door is clear, so you won't forget if you leave something in there), plus a coffee-making system. There's also a desk, although Tempo calls it a "Get Ready Zone."

Nobody's going to pressure you to visit the spa because there isn't one. You also won't be waiting hours for room service because there isn't any. If you want hot food, you can zip down to the lobby (all the elevators are express—enter your desired floor number when you call one and you're usually taken straight there) to Highball, which sells a few freshly prepared options and a bunch of prepackaged ones. Highball, as its name suggests, also has a full bar.

The lobby has a grab-and-go kiosk as well, but it charges three times what a street-level bodega would for the same items, so try to do your snack shopping elsewhere.

My bathroom had plenty of space, but as is the corporate standard these days, no bathtub. The shower was plenty strong and plenty hot, as it should be—after all, the plumbing was new as of 2023. 

I also liked the digital clock embedded in the mirror. Hotel rooms need more clocks in their bathrooms, don't they? That's a place we're not usually wearing watches.

There's a Bluetooth speaker in there, too, but I didn't use mine.

Just as you won't accidentally leave anything in the mini fridge, you won't leave anything in the closet, either, because there is none. Like so many modern lifestyle brands the hotel giants have been establishing lately, such as Marriott's Moxy, the Tempo by Hilton in Times Square won't give you drawers or doors for your stuff. You either live out of your suitcase or hang everything on pegs and exposed hangers.

This kind of casual storage signals that Hilton is going for a moderate price point and that the company knows you're probably the type of customer who'd rather spend your vacation budget on things other than lavish hotel rooms. 

This is utility, but with intentional style. That suits many of us just fine for the rate charged. Most nights, that comes out to $300–$500 (you can use Hilton points) for a room with one king bed or two queens—a smidge high because the hotel is hot and smack-dab in the middle of the tourist action, but absolutely in line with the rest of the city. 

The hotel's free-to-use fitness center runs the width of the building and has both north and south views over 47th and 46th streets, respectively. 

No, there aren't a lot of extras. No table-service restaurants, no rooftop clubs, no pool, and no parking lot. Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square has comfortable rooms with views and workable style, but it doesn't insist you make its scene the center of your attention.

Fortunately, the lack of extraneous amenities means there's no resort fee, either. Which is just what we want out of a hotel where the surrounding city is the real attraction.

A world-famous theatre may be underfoot, but this hotel knows that the show you actually came to see is New York itself.  

Standard rooms at the Tempo by Hilton New York Times Square (1568 Broadway, although the entrance is on West 47th Street) cost $301–$600, depending on the night.