The Regent, Wall Street

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The Independent Travel

Manhattan's downtown financial district is not an obvious place to stay in New York. Why would you want to reside in an area that is dead at nights and the weekends? Well, it's not any more. In recent years many of the old office blocks have been turned into smart apartments. And now three new hotels are to add to the buzz. The Ritz-Carlton will open in Battery Park next year; the Embassy Suites at the World Trade Center this May. Ahead of them all, the Regent chain has launched a grand establishment right on Wall Street.

This 144-room boutique hotel looks set to attract leisure visitors as well as business guests - because nearby are great shops (including the legendary discount fashion store, Century 21), South Street Seaport (the ferry stop for trips to the Statue of Liberty) and many of the oldest and most spectacular buildings in the city.

That includes the Regent, which is housed in the old Merchants Exchange, built in 1842. The building still retains the breathtaking central hall (now used as a ballroom) that look like a remnant of a potentate's palace.

There are two restaurants at the Regent and some very fancy cooking. The restaurant 55 Wall serves "globally influenced American cuisine" in a rather small space. What's appealing however, is the terrace where in the summer Masters of the Universe can start the day with a power breakfast and end it with cocktails. They like you to dress smart casual there.

The Lounge is the best place to take breakfast or afternoon tea. Portions are big, quality is exceptional and prices are high.

Location, Location, Location

Regent Wall, 55 Wall Street, New York 10005, USA (00 1 212 845 8600, fax 00 1 212 845 8601, regenthotels.com).

Transport

Entrances to the Wall Street subway station are just outside the hotel; if you arrive in your own car, there's valet parking. And, naturally, there are plush limousine services. If you are here to explore, then Chinatown, Little Italy, Tribeca, SoHo and the Village, are all within walking distance.

Are You Lying Comfortably?

Rooms are seriously comfortable, from single rooms to loft suites, and all are generously sized. Decorated in the knowledge that busy business guests will have to use them for meetings, there are no wacky fittings, or silly gimmicks. Colours are neutral, fittings traditional. The beds are vast, the baths could double as swimming pools, and there are power showers too.

Keeping in touch

You are in America, the I-want-to-speak-to-him-NOW capital of the world. All the usual phone, computer and modem connections plus a DVD player and large-screen televisions. Every room has a fax and printer and, until the business centre opens (it's imminent), staff will help you with laptop rental, secretarial services, translation, mobile phones and pager hire, printing business cards, and much more.

Freebies

The Wall Street Journal is delivered to your door, Bvlgari toiletries in the suites and a health club in which to work off your Manhattan dining experiences.

The Bottom Line

The introductory prices are amazing, but you'd better hurry. You can currently get a room for $295 (£190), plus taxes, and for $395 (£250) a suite - maybe even one of the loft ones, which will eventually cost $1,600 (£1025) a night.

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