OutThere Recommends: Hotels

by Uwern Jong

New York City is rightly renowned for its luxurious accommodations, with classic as well as new (and newly reimagined) hotels that offer elegance at every turn. For this feature, our partners at OutThere sampled a selection to include in their Monumental NYC issue. These are their “favorite, tried-and-tested, stylish and extraordinary places to stay.” See their descriptions below for inspiration on your next visit to NYC. —nycgo.com staff

Courtesy, The Pierre New York

The Pierre New York

Central Park East

Nothing says old-world Upper East Side eclecticism louder than the Pierre – one of the true Fifth Avenue grandes dames. The property’s classic charm remains unchanged, despite renovations in 2007 – each of the elevators features its own attendant to guide you to your room. We became fast friends with ours, who told us she had been here for 29 years.

The hotel’s Rotunda restaurant serves afternoon tea and cocktails in a setting that has to be seen to be believed, lovingly reimagined by artist Daniel Romualdez (rumour has it Jackie O may be looking down on you enviously). The property’s bar is perfectly adequate for a pre-Broadway drink. Dining in the hotel’s Perrine restaurant is a more modern affair, attracting a wealthy Upper East Side crowd. Just enough of the classic Pierre style has been retained, such as the cute vintage style of the menu design, and executive chef Ashfer Biju offers up classic dishes from the hotel’s original fare. The decor of our room was elegant and grand, in keeping with the DNA of the property, although 10 years into its renovation, it could do with a refresh. However, what may be missing in modernity is made up for in quality – our sheets were some of the silkiest we’ve ever slept in. If you’re craving some contemporary (okay, mid-century modern) stylings, check-into a Grand Suite that comes with terrace views over one of Manhattan’s chicest neighbourhoods.

www.thepierreny.com
2 E. 61st St., New York City

Courtesy, The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel

The Plaza

Central Park South

It’s impossible to visit this grande dame of New York City hotels without an overwhelming sense of déjà-vu taking over you. After all, for over 60 years it has played cameos in all genres of Hollywood films – from Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, to Christmas favourite Home Alone, as well as in the recent crowd-pleaser Ocean’s Eight (although we don’t recommend trying to hustle the staff into giving you a free room – we’re pretty sure they are on to that one). Beyond the cinematic prestige lies a hotel with a sense of its own place in the New York imagination. It’s a hotel where Saudi princes mix with wide-eyed, special-occasion guests looking for that quintessential old-school vibe. Our lavish Pulitzer Legacy Suite overlooked Fifth Avenue and the famous Pulitzer Fountain on Grand Army Plaza from which it gets its name. It embodies the hotel’s timeless European style, albeit with modern conveniences. Afternoon tea in the opulent Palm Court was a particular highlight for us, although we didn’t have to go far for more contemporary fare. Beneath the hotel is a modern food court, bustling with smart shoppers in search of fancy treats – such as Japanese layer cake, our personal favourite. There was no real need (or desire) to leave the property.

Courtesy, The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel

We loved the glamour of the Plaza. It’s no wonder it was billed ‘the world’s greatest hotel’ when it opened back in 1907, but more than a century and a bit later, it’s
still a contender for that title.

www.theplazany.com
768 5th Ave., New York City

Courtesy, Loews Regency New York

Loews Regency New York

Central Park East

Like the city it’s located in, Loews Regency is a no-nonsense hotel that clearly means business. Going into this smart Park Avenue hotel, set close to the southeastern corner of Central Park, feels like entering another level of New York’s complex social structure.

Courtesy, Loews Regency New York

At almost every hour of the day, the foyer is a tableau of men in smartly tailored suits, talking earnestly on their phones – and to each other – as if a big diplomatic deal were about to go down. Immaculately dressed women with their manicured dogs (the hotel has a special Very Important Pets programme that gets them the same – perhaps even more – perks as their two-legged owners) step out of limousines, as attentive door staff rush to retrieve their shopping bags from Bergdorf Goodman just a few blocks away. We visited at the time of the United Nations General Assembly, which may go some way to explain all of this, so perhaps at any other time of year the hotel may have more of a relaxed vibe. Our contemporary suite – one of just 58 here – had its own balcony with views across the rooftops to the park. It is one of a number of individually designed self-contained ‘apartments’ that mix a cool minimalist 1970s vibe with modern comforts. We were told that many were rented out for the month by international long-stay visitors looking for the trappings of home (with a pretty prestigious address), matched with the convenience of staying in a hotel. We always maintain that you can judge a hotel by its concierge service and in this case it scored top marks, guiding us to an exquisite local Japanese restaurant that more than satisfied our late-night cravings for sushi. Naturally, this was followed by a nightcap in the hotel’s classic American-style Regency Bar & Grill.

www.loewshotels.com
540 Park Ave., New York City

Courtesy, The Knickerbocker

The Knickerbocker

Times Square

As the New York socialite saying goes, ‘get you a man who can do both’. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Knickerbocker is your man – well, hotel. Nestled among the bright lights and hustle of Times Square, it’s right in the heart of all the Midtown action, yet it’s a sanctuary from the craziness outside. This was our second stay at the Knickerbocker and we were excited to return.

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Courtesy, The Knickerbocker

So let’s get the challenges out of the way. Unfortunately, as on our first visit when the hotel had just opened, the staff’s aloof approach to service (which we had assumed may have been a teething problem) had not gone away. After a long flight, this doesn’t make a great impression, but once we’d shrugged off the big-city attitude, the only way was up. Waiting in the St. Cloud Rooftop bar for our room to be readied made it all better. It’s a great people-watching space, with delicious signature cocktails. Our suite was a contemporary, well-proportioned space, understated and minimalist, but effortlessly comfortable.

Courtesy, The Knickerbocker

It was an oasis of calm in comparison to what we could see from our window and shutting the curtains allowed us to forget that we were in the middle of one of the busiest, most-photographed places in the world. The aptly named Saints & Sinners Fitness Center is divided into a tranquil space for yoga and pilates and a more upbeat cardio-and-weight-training facility to pump up for a night on the town. One evening, we forwent the city’s bright lights for a night in and the Knickerbocker’s in-room dining was a delight.

www.theknickerbocker.com
6 Times Square, New York City

Courtesy, Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. Photo: Christian Horan

Four Seasons New York Downtown

Tribeca

Everyone’s talking about the ‘new New York’ and at the heart of all this hype is the revitalised Lower Manhattan area.

A couple of years ago, we were thrilled to be part of the hotel’s unveiling and, having had a great experience, we were equally thrilled to return. Just moments from Downtown Manhattan Heliport, this relatively new hotel, set in a glistening tower building, was built from scratch and features the understatedly opulent interior design of the husband-and-husband team that is Yabu Pushelberg. Our north-facing, 22nd-floor suite offered a striking view of the city – the vista stretched for miles – while other rooms showcase views of Downtown icon the Oculus and the mighty Hudson River. The sweetest suite is the property’s gorgeous Penthouse, a luxury home-away-from-home that made us consider buying one of the exclusive residences that are for sale in the building. Perks of being in residence include Cut – Wolfgang Puck’s first steakhouse in New York City – a showy, boudoir-like, eclectic eatery that’s a departure from the Four Season’s aesthetic identity. With a seven-room spa and pool area, the fitness centre takes up an entire floor and is an escapist’s dream, perfect after a long day in the hustle and bustle: all gorgeous streaked marble, wood and tons of natural light. It takes on a Korean influence and reminded us of our stay at the hotel’s sister property in Seoul. You know an area has become chic when a Four Seasons has moved in.

www.fourseasons.com/newyorkdowntown
27 Barclay St., New York City

Courtesy, The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel. Photo: Bjorn Wallander

The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel

Downtown

Staying in Downtown may not be the leisure traveller’s first choice on a visit to New York City, but it actually has its benefits. It is surprisingly easy to get to on the subway, as it’s serviced by a number of lines that connect in the financial heart of the city, and it’s also within walking distance of some iconic landmarks, from the new World Trade Center plaza, ferry piers, the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges and the South Street Seaport district. The Beekman is an absolute gem of a heritage hotel, with a jaw-dropping, open atrium showing off the turn-of-the-century architecture (it used to be the headquarters of a law firm).

Courtesy, The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel. Photo: Bjorn Wallander

The ground floor houses two outstanding restaurants: Keith McNally’s brasserie Augustine and Tom Colicchio’s Temple Court, which brings a unique take on an American menu. Make time for a cocktail in the hotel’s beautiful Bar Room before heading downstairs into the basement to the Alley Cat, an eclectically designed speakeasy-style club with late opening hours. It reminded us of Maggie Choo’s in Bangkok. The high ceilings in our suite made it feel generous and, despite the rather modest bathroom, we loved the design – a mix of dark wooden floors and handsome solid furniture combined with sumptuous, richly coloured soft furnishings. The hotel sports two signature penthouse suites nestled on the hotel we imagine they are worth every dime.

www.thebeekman.com
123 Nassau St., New York City

Courtesy, The Wagner at the Battery

The Wagner Hotel

Downtown

Formerly the darling of Wall Street wolves because of its proximity to the Financial District, this once-starchy property is changing things a little with the influx of leisure travellers now choosing Downtown as their base. And this is as downtown as you can get – the property literally perches on the southernmost tip of the island. The advantage was a picture-postcard view of the Hudson from our suite, which looked out over the Statue of Liberty. A strategically placed telescope comes as part of the furnishings in each room. The Battery Park location means that the One World Observatory (the perfect starting point for a first-timer in NYC) and the new shopping meccas in the Oculus and Brookfield Place are all within walking distance. Should you not be a walker, the hotel provides complimentary bicycles. The property is classic 1990s luxe, with gold and marble trim everywhere. Flawless service and attention to detail by its predominantly male team were the icing on the cake to an already-great stay.

www.thewagnerhotel.com
2 West St., New York City

Courtesy, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

The Ritz Carlton New York

Central Park

With traditional charm and killer views over Central Park, this hotel made us feel at home. In fact, the demeanour of the team there was geared towards us being residents rather than guests.

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We loved our room, which featured Club Lounge access, along with oversize marble bathroom and butler service (the latter at an additional charge). We dined at the hotel’s bistro specialising in seafood and had many a martini in the gorgeous Star Lounge.

www.ritzcarlton.com
50 Central Park South, New York City

Courtesy, The St. Regis, New York. Photo: Bruce Buck

The St. Regis New York

Central Park/Midtown

This Beaux-Arts hotel is quite a name to drop – Astor, Dalí, Old King Cole. Okay, so we spent a lot of time in the property’s lauded bar, but the rest of the hotel had just as many stories to tell. Playing up to its NYC glamour credentials, we had to choose between a Bentley, Tiffany or Dior suite. Guess which we picked? It was hard to contain our excitement as our butler unveiled our palatial rooms.

www.stregisnewyork.com
2 E. 55th St., New York City

Courtesy, Hotel Plaza Athénée

Hôtel Plaza Athénée New York

Upper East Side

With elegant rooms in a luxurious house on a brownstone-lined street, the Athénée feels like an intimate, boutique hotel, despite holding 140 keys and being the talk of New York high society. The decor stays true to the property’s Beaux-Arts stylings and its location is a dream for culture-vultures. We enjoyed the hotel’s stately Arabelle restaurant.

www.plaza-athenee.com
37 E. 64th St., New York City

Courtesy, Mandarin Oriental, New York

Mandarin Oriental New York

Central Park West

Perched high above Columbus Circle, this Asian-inspired hotel, complete with wood panels, marble floors and artworks inspired by nature, offers luxuriously zen places to stay. We enjoyed the property’s spa and Asiate restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling vistas of the city’s skyline. Our room was understated, but waking to a view of Central Park was a showstopper.

www.mandarinoriental.com/new-york
80 Columbus Circle, New York City

Courtesy, Lotte New York Palace. Photo: Bruce Buck Photography

Lotte New York Palace

Midtown

A story of old meets new unfurls in this 19th-century building, with its topiary-peppered Italian courtyard and opulent marble staircase. The Lotte has become synonymous with luxury leisure travel and it’s easy to see why – it boasts sumptuous rooms with marble bathrooms and a 7,000 sq ft (yes, you heard right) wellness centre overlooking St Patrick’s Cathedral.

www.lottenypalace.com
455 Madison Ave., New York City

Courtesy, The Peninsula New York

The Peninsula New York

Midtown

We’re big Peninsula fans – we’ve stayed in them all across the world. This is everything a luxury hotel should be, with that added Peninsula touch. Discreet, classy and sensational, it lets you melt away from the madness of NYC. We loved our room with its Fifth Avenue views and the staff and concierge went out of their way to make our stay great.

www.peninsula.com
700 5th Ave., New York City

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This article first appeared in OutThere magazine’s Monumental NYC Issue. For more luxury and experiential journeys for men of distinction, visit www.outthere.travel.


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