Stamford’s other Hilton lives up to the name

Stamford’s sole boutique hotel lives up to its Hilton pedigree.

“It’s fun,” in the Village People’s immortal phrase, “to stay at the Y.M.C.A.,” but it might be even more fun staying at The Lloyd Stamford, which owner/operator RMS Cos. refers to as downtown’s Stamford’s only “boutique” hotel, and which occupies the same building as Stamford’s Y.M.C.A.

Previously known as Hotel Zero Degrees Stamford, the 94-room property underwent a top-to-toe renovation just a few months into the pandemic. Emerging as The Lloyd in August 2020, it is now part of the mid-market Tapestry Collection by Hilton. (This should not be confused with the larger Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center.)

Eager to see if the still relatively new, rebranded hotel cuts the mustard as a fully fledged “boutique” hotel, with all the attributes this frequently abused soubriquet suggests, I book in to sample what I hope will be The Lloyd’s personalized service and low-key pampering.

I’ve no sooner pulled up at the entryway at 909 Washington Blvd., with its handy forecourt and pert, triangular box hedges, when a smiling doorman appears, as if from nowhere and whisks away the wagon. Up a few steps and across the lobby, and the friendliest of front desk agents greets me with a warm smile. There’s none of those snapping “ID? Credit Card?” orders masquerading as questions, which overworked and overtired front desk agents tend to bark at you in cookie-cutter, chain hotels. Instead, said agent asks, “How was your journey here this evening. How has your day been so far?” and later,  almost as an afterthought, a gentle “May I trouble you for your picture ID and an imprint of your credit card for incidentals?” I do love a full sentence at check-in, don’t you?

And it doesn’t stop there. “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? “ this hospitality star — as opposed to czar — now asks, as she slips my driver’s license and credit card back to me with a discreet, mouthed “thank you.” 

What a nice idea. It’s 5 p.m., too late for coffee and a shade too early for a cocktail, but a cup of tea should be a nice pick-me-up. “Would you like English Breakfast or perhaps Earl Grey?” It’s those nice, proper sentences again and, with yet another smile, the agent comes around from behind the desk and heads for the kitchen, emerging just a couple of minutes later with a mock-croc tea tray, pot of hot water, two Earl Grey teabags and a mug that says “Good Morning.” This I turn around, thinking it might offer a more appropriate time of day salutation on the other side. It doesn’t. It simply says “The Lloyd,” but that’s quite good enough for me.

With help from the doorman, who has returned from parking the car and now carries the tray, I head for the elevator, pressing “8” for my floor number. We immediately descend to the basement. “No matter, it happens in the best hotels,” I joke with the doorman, as a young lady steps in and offers a greeting. I tell her we’ve come to the wrong floor, that we meant to go up, not down. “These darn elevators,” she says, with a wink. Nice place, The Lloyd, I’m already thinking. The guests are as pleasant as the staff. 

Cozily ensconced in room 801, I feel instantly at home. Only it’s better than home in a sense, as all good hotels are, with clean sheets, and endless hot water and a bunch of good restaurants more or less on the doorstep. This spacious corner room features a king-size bed with crisp linens and a buttoned, Chesterfield-style headboard in tan leather. (That night, I discover that for comfort, it ranks with the best of beds). Walls are painted a fetching shade of eggplant, which manage to be “designer” and relaxing simultaneously and, paired with the stained oak floors, give the room a slightly masculine feel. It’s not a “pretty” room but nor is it a pared-down, brutally minimalist one nor a self-consciously overdesigned one. For an urban hotel it strikes just the right note, functional but also cosseting, with its herringbone bed throw and soft, hooded, trendy T-Y bathrobes.

There are plenty of drawers but no actual closets for hanging. Still, the assorted hangers on a long row of exposed hooks will satisfy all but the most fastidious “closed-closet” purists.

The bathroom itself — shower-room actually — is well-lit, with a spacious shower cabinet and Bigelow products. On the far side of the room, a corner recess houses a round, marble-topped table and four chairs, and the big windows afford a terrific view of downtown Stamford, all a-twinkle as the lights come on at dusk, a bright-lights-big-city feeling. 

Outside in the guest floor corridors, I can’t help thinking, in the cold mid-winter, that the heavy checkered and tweedy carpet would make a rather wonderful, snazzy overcoat.

While The Lloyd has no restaurant, it is situated on the edge of Stamford’s “Restaurant Row.” (See story on Stamford dining, Page 68) so a hotel restaurant could well be superfluous. What it does have and welcome, too, is a snack corner open 24 hours for sweets, cakes, candy, sodas and water, plus a basic selection of wine that is available until 1:30 a.m.

Breakfast is served, or rather self-served, with a bit of help from yet another friendly staff member, from the bar at the far end of the hotel’s long common area. It’s a warm and inviting space brimming with light by day, a comfortable sofa, a long banquette with zingy pillows,  individual marble-topped tables for two and two long, shared communal tables. The Americano was expertly made and the “good morning” slogan on the mug made more sense in the early daylight hours than it had done the previous afternoon in the dark. What’s more, the almond croissant I had here was a one-off — a buttery dough, flaky pastry and a light egg-wash, rich with toasty almonds and encrusted with grainy sugar. Hardly run of the mill or “cookie-cutter,” this was a distinctive croissant, perfectly at home in this distinctive “boutique” hotel.

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