No sleep till dawn? Maybe. But you'll still want a decent hotel
Great places to stay in NYC now offer much more than just a bed for the night, reports Sarah Barrell
Sunday 19 September 2004
The current batch of new New York hotels are not so much new as reinvented. The formula seems to be: out with the old (name, staff and décor), in with the new (high-concept branding and hot design team). The most exciting makeover has been the Dream Hotel. Set to bring a sense of fun to the homogenised Midtown hotel scene, the 228-room Dream Hotel will be unveiled in the old Majestic Hotel building on 1 October. The design dream team behind the venture comprises the hotelier Vikram Chatwal, the fashion photographer David LaChapelle, and the spiritualist writer Deepak Chopra. LaChapelle is responsible for creating the hotel's lobby and two lounges, Dream Lounge and Subconscious; Deepak Chopra has turned his healing hands to the spa.
The current batch of new New York hotels are not so much new as reinvented. The formula seems to be: out with the old (name, staff and décor), in with the new (high-concept branding and hot design team). The most exciting makeover has been the Dream Hotel. Set to bring a sense of fun to the homogenised Midtown hotel scene, the 228-room Dream Hotel will be unveiled in the old Majestic Hotel building on 1 October. The design dream team behind the venture comprises the hotelier Vikram Chatwal and the spiritualist writer Deepak Chopra.
The spa will offer daily yoga, stress management, sleep improvement and nutrition classes along with Ayurvedic therapies. Don't miss the "Gandharva" treatment involving a talented masseuse who can manipulate your energy points while simultaneously playing the Tibetan bowls. Next stop Broadway.
And renaming is the game down in the Lower East Side, with this month's long anticipated opening of the Hotel on Rivington. This 20-storey hotel soars high over the low-rise neighbourhood which has, up until now, been something of a hotel wasteland. A year after it was due to open as the "Surface Hotel" - named after the San Francisco-based design magazine behind its conception - it was instead named Hotel on Rivington after the street on which it resides. Word has it that the name change came to avoid deterring other magazines from giving it press coverage.
Standing above the rickety fire escapes which cover the crumbling fronts of the Lower East Side's 19th-century tenement blocks, the 110-room glass-fronted hotel should have some of the best views downtown. The developers have bought the "air rights" from owners in surrounding buildings, securing clear views for years to come. Too bad for 60 Thompson's owner Jason Pomeranc who plans to open a hotel in the Lower East Side next year.
The Ganservoort is the buzz in the ever-humming Meat Packing District. Its rooftop pool and bar has fast become the area's nightlife hotspot, not least since it looks down rather smugly on the pool at Soho House. Patrons can do laps in the 45ft heated swimming pool while thumbing their noses at the transatlantic media types who populate the exclusive members club-cum-hotel below. The 187 rooms include 20 corner suites and a duplex penthouse suite. Ono, due to open in October, is the hotel's split-level indoor/outdoor Japanese restaurant. The newest creation from the restaurant designer Jeffrey Chodorow (of New York's acclaimed China Grill, Asia de Cuba and Tuscan) offers a mix of traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, including Robatayaki dishes where chefs cook on an open flame in front of the patron's plate. Avoid dining in high winds.
Back in Midtown, airspace was not something that the Mandarin Oriental thought about when it opened its hotel in a skyscraper overlooking the Westside of Central Park. Sadly, the Trump building opposite looks set to take the edge off its park panorama. But with a lobby on the 35th floor and rooms climbing 20 floors above, this Orientalist's fantasy of a hotel still commands some pretty decent park vistas and, from the other side, the Hudson River. If you can't get a room with a park view - essential if you want to ogle the autumnal carpet of colours - skip across to the east side of Central Park to stay at The Pierre. Far classier than the neighbouring landmark Plaza Hotel, the Pierre has been around almost as long (since 1930) and combines old-fashioned service with quiet opulence. You won't find touring rock bands or movie stars here - and that, the loyal old-money clientele attests, is reason enough to book a room.
Le Parker Meridien is another tried and tested Midtown landmark, with excellent park views to be had from its rooftop pool. The preserve of expense account-holding business travellers and their holidaying partners, Le Parker has recently hit the news due to the extravagance of its restaurant. Not content with serving what many consider the best burgers in town, the hotel made the headlines earlier this year with its $1,000 omelette. The so-called Zillion Dollar Frittata is made of eggs, lobster and 10oz of Sevruga caviar. Very few people have ordered the dish, but if someone does, staff clang a bell to applaud the decadence. Almost as audible: the venerable guests over at the Pierre wincing.
At the more affordable end of the scale, 70 Park Avenue is another Midtown hotel reinvention to open this summer. Formerly the Doral Park Hotel, the redesign includes yet another hot hotel restaurant in the shape of the Silverleaf Tavern (to open later this month). Contrasting with the sleek, understated design of the hotel (earthy colours, 42in plasma TVs and a pillow "menu") the restaurant's 17th century-style tavern appears a tad gaudy. But this in-house eaterie, headed by a Union Square Café veteran, Kevin Reilly, promises a taste of old New York, serving Jewish deli-inspired dishes such as chargrilled hanger steak, short-rib horseradish knish and a chicken broth with dumplings.
Finally, in a quick change that Superman would be proud of, in place of the old Gotham Hotel, comes The Blakely. Ira Drukier and Richard Born, whose enormous portfolio of Manhattan hotels includes the Mercer, the Maritime, and Chambers, acquired this 120-room Midtown property last winter and opened this spring after a $5m makeover that seeks to emulate the style of a 1920s London members' club. A case of out with the old and in with the old-fashioned.
GIVE ME THE FACTS
The Dream hotel (001 212 247 2000; www.dreamny.com) has double rooms from $275 (£172) per night.
The Hotel on Rivington (001 212 475 2600) has an introductory offer of doubles from $195 (£122).
The Ganservoort (001 212 206 6700; www.hotelgansevoort.com) has doubles from $325 (£203).
The Mandarin Oriental (001 212 805 8800; www.mandarinoriental.com) has doubles from $675 (£370).
The Pierre (001 212 838 8000; www.fourseasons.com/pierre) has doubles from $495 (£309).
Le Parker Meridien (001 212 245 5000; www.parkermeridien.com) has doubles from $365 (£228).
70 Park Avenue (001 212 973 2400; www.70parkave.com) has doubles from $229 (£143)
The Blakely (001 212 245 1800; www.blakelynewyork.com) has doubles from $225 (£141)
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