the luxury hotels of New York - part two

New York is full of distinctive sights. Pictured here is the Flatiron Building. Built in 1902, the building sits on a triangular block and is a distinctive landmark dating from the early years of the 20th century. There are countless reasons to visit the Big Apple, the Flatiron building being just one.

Where to stay
when you do visit? There are many choices among New York's luxury hotels. I recently visited New York for a week, over the Christmas holidays. Combining a visit with family over the holidays with some travel related pursuits, I stayed at three hotels over the course of the week, and I made site visits to six others during my visit over Christmas week. Here is a brief report on three of my site visits. The remaining three (Peninsula, St. Regis, and Gansevoort) will be covered in a subsequent blog.

Mandarin Oriental New York
. This property is located at the southwest corner of Central Park on Columbus Circle and occupies floors 35-54 in the Time Warner Center. A dedicated elevator inside the W. 60th Street entrance to the building whisks guests directly to the hotel lobby on the 35th floor. You are struck immediately by the hotel's lounge, the MO Bar, which faces Central Park. The glass facade of the building features the most amazing view of the park. Though the hotel's rooms are not large, they are beautiful, decorated in a contemporary Asian style, and extremely well laid out. I would look forward to spending nights at this property. The Mandarin Oriental has a great restaurant (I enjoyed my lunch immensely) and a spa. For a very special splurge, book the Central Park View Suite!

The Benjamin
is the least expensive Virtuoso hotel in New York, and I wanted to inspect the property for this reason. As New York is a very expensive city, visitors are always looking for good values. The good news? You can save hundreds of dollars a night by staying at The Benjamin. The hotel enjoys a good midtown location a short walk from St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue. Its unique feature is an extensive "pillow menu," and I was shown the collection of twelve different pillow types from which guests can choose with the assistance of the hotel's "sleep concierge." Value-conscious travelers will appreciate the kitchenette in each room. However, The Benjamin did not strike me as a luxury hotel. Though it has a fine restaurant and a small spa, the property suffers from small rooms in need of major updating, an uninspiring lobby, narrow hallways, and cramped elevators. And speaking of pillows, I would have hoped for a thin, very soft feather pillow among the choices in the pillow menu.

The Gramercy Park Hotel is the newest Virtuoso property in New York, and it is well worth your consideration. Located at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 21st Street, this downtown property is across the street from Gramercy Park, a beautiful, gated park that is open only to the residents of the immediate neighborhood... but hotel guests have access to the park! This is a unique and unusual hotel. The hallways are dark with room numbers in the carpet. Rooms are decorated in an eclectic style featuring bold splashes of color and furniture that is not that of your typical hotel room. I found the rooms to be very comfortable and attractive, but insist on a room with an outside view (the nicest being those that look onto the park); rooms with windows onto the interior courtyard were quite dark.

New York luxury hotels (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2007 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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