24-Hour Room Service - New York Palace, New York

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The Independent Travel

The liveried receptionist at the New York Palace signalled to a marbled doorway where a bellboy stood smiling. "Your room is on the 51st floor, sir." By golly, they know how to make you feel important in the New York Palace.

The liveried receptionist at the New York Palace signalled to a marbled doorway where a bellboy stood smiling. "Your room is on the 51st floor, sir." By golly, they know how to make you feel important in the New York Palace.

The hotel is a 55-floor skyscraper rising from the Villard Houses, a landmark Manhattan mansion built in 1882. You enter amid the sculpted Victorian marble of the mansion, and are ferried to your room in a rocket lift, the architectural transition between the old and the new buildings seamless. In the lobby you may notice perfectly attired ladies and gentlemen making their way into Le Cirque 2000, the hotel's restaurant and one of the city's most desirable meeting points.

The bellboy pointed out that St Patrick's cathedral was directly across the road, but the height of our room meant that from the window, New York's most spectacular church was a miniaturised toy far below.

The real view was of an illuminated, craggy mountainscape of Art Deco and International skyscrapers outlined in the night, all appearing as streaks and stars of light.

Lying in bed on the 51st floor next to a floor-to-ceiling window in midtown Manhattan is one of the world's most enthralling experiences.

Location, location, location

The New York Palace is at 455 Madison Avenue (on 50th), New York. (00 1 212 888 7000)

American real estate doesn't get much more prime than Madison Avenue and 51st Street: Bloomingdale's, Central Park and the Rockefeller Plaza are a stroll away. But in a city where many of the best hotels can only offer views of the skyscraper opposite, the Palace's real cachet is its vertical location. Our window was almost level with the Rainbow Room at the top of the Rockefeller Centre, the panoramic dining spot.

Time to international airport

Taxi or subway and bus to JFK Airport takes an hour, or travel like the other guests in a stretch limo, which the concierge can arrange for you from $50 - not much more than the cab fare.

Are you lying comfortably?

The bed stretched a third of the way across the huge room, and had 10 pillows. Perhaps to deter potentially suicidal guests, the windows are so thickly glazed that not a note of sound enters from the city beneath. We rang room service in the middle of the night and ordered a Reuben sandwich (salt beef and sauerkraut, topped with melted cheese) from the Carnegie Deli, New York's finest, over on Seventh Avenue, a 15-minute hike. It arrived 10 minutes later.

Freebies

Bath foam, shampoo and body oil were by Bulgari, all herby, zesty and unctuous, and Boots For Men has never felt the same since.

Staying in touch

Waiting on the window-side table were New York Palace business cards, ready-printed with my name on them and the room's direct line, voicemail and fax numbers. A great ego-boost.

The bottom line

Rooms start at $525 (£325) per night, though you should stay in the high floors of the Tower (from $605 per night) for the full experience.

I'm not paying that

At the Edison Hotel (228 W. 47th St, New York, 00 1 212 840 5000) you can sample true Manhattan art deco without paying exorbitant prices. Comfy, basic rooms (from $160) and it's central.

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