24-Hour Room Service: The Mandarin Oriental, New York

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The Independent Travel

When you've got a plum position on the south-west corner of Central Park, your lobby is on the 35th floor and the rooms spiral up 20 floors higher, it makes sense to make the most of the views: sweeping across the park on one side, over the Hudson River on the other and down towards the bright lights of midtown. Cue floor-to-ceiling picture windows in the rooms, bar, restaurant and cocktail lounge, spa and even the 36th-floor lap pool. It also makes sense, as this is New York, to add a note to self - remember to buy the air space.

24-Hour Room Service: The Mandarin Oriental, New York

When you've got a plum position on the south-west corner of Central Park, your lobby is on the 35th floor and the rooms spiral up 20 floors higher, it makes sense to make the most of the views: sweeping across the park on one side, over the Hudson River on the other and down towards the bright lights of midtown. Cue floor-to-ceiling picture windows in the rooms, bar, restaurant and cocktail lounge, spa and even the 36th-floor lap pool. It also makes sense, as this is New York, to add a note to self - remember to buy the air space.

The cocky banner slung from the roof of the black Darth Vader-like Trump building rearing up in front of the new Mandarin Oriental brags about the fact that they've spoilt the views of the park. But it's just a small thorn in the side of what is currently the hottest property in town. The new kid on the block, or rather circle, the Mandarin Oriental is the talk of New York. The chic MObar is heaving, as is Asiate, the French-Japanese signature restaurant, and you have to sweet talk a girl with a clipboard just to get a seat in the Lobby Lounge cocktail bar. But after being whisked up from the subdued entrance to the spacious sky lobby you realise why, as your eyes are drawn past the startling Dale Chihuly sculpture erupting from an oriental moss garden and the Lalique-inspired gold-domed ceiling, to the New York skyline before you.

LOCATION

Mandarin Oriental, 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street, New York, NY 10023 (001 212 805 8800; www.mandarinoriental.com) is 280 feet up in the north tower of the new Time Warner Center.

Time to international airport: Cabs to JFK and Newark are around $40 if traffic is light, plus tolls, tip and - in the case of Newark - a $10 charge for the journey back into NY. (New York cabs are not allowed to pick up a return fare in New Jersey.) Allow about an hour.

COMFORTABLE?

There are 251 rooms and suites. The architects have worked with the shape of the giant parallelogram to give the suites floor-to-ceiling corner windows. The design theme is a mix of contemporary and oriental, with black floorboards scattered with rugs, paintings from artists such as the Taiwanese Paul Ching-Bor, and furniture inspired by the 1940s. Bathrooms are decked out in Spanish marble with soaking tubs at windows.

Freebies: bowls of shiny red apples by the lift on each floor. Complimentary copy of The New York Times each morning. In the room, delicious Aromatherapy Associates toiletries. Even the water, left with a Jacques Torres artisan chocolate on the turn-down, is the fashionable Fiji brand.

Keeping in touch: there are three flat-screen TVs; in descending scale, the enormous TV in the living room, medium-sized TV in the bedroom and small TV in the bathroom.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start at $675 (£370).

I'm not paying that: Hotel Wolcott, all Beaux-Arts décor and gilded ornamental lobby, at 4 West 31st St at Fifth Ave, (00 1 212 268 2900; www. wolcott.com) has doubles from $115 (£63)

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