Several friends of mine have stayed at Hotel New York and loved it. I often go there for food, drinks, snacks and their delicious 'tompouce' pastry. It's a beautiful old building and charmingly decorated.
SS Rotterdam also looks pretty cool but I don't know if you want to sleep on a cruise ship *before* going on a cruise. :-)
There are several restaurants, a cinema, a theater and a photo museum right in that area and I am surprised that people make it sound like such an isolated place. Okay, there are no shops but you can take the water taxi to Leuvehaven and you're right in the center, or a tram or metro, or walk across the Erasmus bridge which gives you spectacular views. This would be a cool walk in the dark as well with the bridge lines lit up.
My favorite street in Rotterdam is Witte de Withstraat full of international and funky restaurants, and cool shops.
I lived at two places near the station and for me as a student with a bike it was convenient but there is nothing appealing about that area per se.
More Rotterdam tips in this thread: tripadvisor.com/…0
Edited: 5:20 am, September 27, 2013