New York The rest of the story

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The Surrey Vs The Mark

Lets start with the rooms The Surrey is 330-400 standard rooms. The Mark 400-450 although it does not seem like much but you definitely notice when you step in the room. The Surrey has two queen configurations which the Mark does not have, but the rollaway is nice and you have the extra room to put one in. Slight edge the Mark

Bathrooms. Separate tub and shower in the Mark and The Surrey, black and white design by Jacques Granges and water pressure that you have to actually turn down. The Surrey little smaller bath or the optical illusion of one perception is everything The Mark all the way

Lobby both lobbies are small The Surrey has lower ceiling which makes it look even smaller The Chuck Close giant Kate moss head is pretty cool. When you walk into the Mark pow the design punches you right in the face in a good way. Hands down the Mark

Dining: Daniel Boulud vs. Jean Georges wow were talking. There would be a bigger edge if Gavin Kaysen was still the chef at Café Boulud… on the Saturday I was there Daniel was on the premises. Hands on is a good thing! The Asian fusion thing at the Mark though… something about sushi on deep fried rice soo wrong but soo right! Slight edge The Surrey

Amenities: The Mark has a flower shop, a hot dog stand, pedi-cabs, bikes, picnic baskets and a sail boat in the summer months. The Surrey has a roof top space and a small spa.

Sorry Travel and Leisure you are sniffing in the right direction for the best hotel in NY but you missed the best by two blocks. Either place is great but when looking for the best it’s the Mark not by a mile but by enough. Is The Surrey #2 hmm might have to go with the Mandarin

 

The Plaza vs The Pierre Across the street worlds apart:

 Location cannot be more night and day. My intention was to tour the Plaza but 1 part security and two parts zoo I took a pass to the Ritz Carlton 1 block away. No matter how much I like the Fairmont they can’t do for the Plaza what they do for the Empress by sheer economy of scale.

 Todd English food hall next to trhe Plaza food hall. As in Holy shit I need to get a ressy at the food hall… huh? Central park version of Eataly? . The Pierre on the other hand even though on the opposite corner is quiet and civilized and outdoor lunch is possible at Perrine without a fish bowl experience.

The plus for the Fairmont is the 450-500 sq ft rooms but they still have a bunch of categories and park view is a waist high wade into these categories at around $1400 a night. The Pierre is organized by view and there bunch of categories seem comprehensible and their Park View rooms around $1000 a night which is a pretty good value, but rooms are smaller here. The even better Value is the Executive suite with a quite interior view for around $700.

 

 

The Carlyle: The Good: Epic hotel steeped in history coolest old school bar in NY at Bemelmans where Woody Allen plays every Monday. I waited for about half an hour in the gorgeous lobby to tour the Carlyle. In that time they checked-in in about 10 guests the front desk knew all 10 by name before stepping to the front desk. A late arrival 3rd gen guest came and they had to shuffle a room so he could have “his room” My guess is that the Carlyle is 90% repeat guests.

The bad: First the elevators are small it can fit 5 without luggage including the elevator man one of the elevators is “out of service” I assume for luggage that they work as a service elevator weird as I watched 2 guests walk into the dark elevator. There as some rooms which have been renovated and others that have not. The hall carpet was dingy and ripped on every floor we went to, on one floor I looked up at the elevator to see duct work wrapped in duct tape and painted white. If I did not know this was the Carlyle run by Rosewood I would think they are renting by the hour here… I was embarrassed for the front desk manager showing me the space. Rosewood has not done this hotel properly its bad for their brand and bad for the hotel as they are bringing new guests that stay only once I guaranty. It would be better served as a Belmond property. Belmond is comfortable working with constraints of not being to close the hotel for residents during the refurb and spending and adequate amount of money to bring recut and polish this gem!

They rooms looked comfy but bathrooms are sub-standard for five star Luxury properties. Tubs with showers not separate showers small spaces some did have tub with separate shower configuration though.

Here’s the thing: I would give this hotel a serious pass except for one thing, service, people keep coming back and coming back. They have residents that live there too and these people all look past the flaws. There is one picture that tells it all. It was before check in for a family that has two little kids. In their suite were two roll always and yellow car with gummy bears a cone of popcorn and two chocolate chip cookies and a note obviously for the parents. Amazing right until I looked closely at the picture and noticed the seriously worn and stained table it was on. That is the Carlyle in a nut shell. On the way down we got the elevator stopped there was someone in the elevator with the elevator man and us and we stepped in. I noticed a tall man with a tat and a back pack. Our personal space was inherently violated when I noticed who he was, and said, hello. The young man was so pleasant and gushed highly about the Carlyle, I assume because he noticed I was with the front desk manager. When we departed the elevator he said “yeah this is my place, it’s the Carlyle man!”  Residents I’m sure don’t want to change a fucking thing … I also pleasantly changed up my Spotify play list.

Finally: I would stay here probably over half of the Midtown hotels simply on their great location and the others bad location. My next 4 night stay in NY I am going to fall on the sword, not stay at the Mark, and stay in 4 hotels in 4 nights. This will probably be one. Will the service and Bemelmans win me over too? Suggestion: Upper Eastside value play on a suite or an upgraded Virtuoso amenity would also go well.

 

Plaza Athenee: Its embarrassing I have only walked through this property once in the last Decade and don’t really remember it. The hotel has been recently redone in 2014 it’s in the Upper East Side and also has that storied past. This hotel is top on my list for my next visit! I would automatically put this property in my top 10 on location sight unseen for the location alone.

 

The Lowell: Fantastic unique property great service lots of repeat guests. Suites can have a fireplace and a terrace to sip your morning coffee. This is the perfect property for holding small meetings. Majorelle, Jacques Bar, The Club room and the Pembroke for afternoon tea never seem to be too busy. This place is AMAZING. It feels like you are an exclusive member of a private club. Given the Upper east side location I could easily see this as someone’s fave!

On the downside which may be another reason you stay here. There are only 74 rooms each is a little different so you need to know what rooms are best to request and regulars all know and have probably beaten you to your resy! . Its “New fucking York” for Christ sake it’s not time for you to curl up with a book, your pipe and that rented Labrador. The world is out there and NY is why they invented Ambien…

 

The Pierre: Epic storied hotel aren’t they all. Taj seems to be a brand that works for this property. Jag house cars are cool too. It has been nicely restored and Perrine restaurant is on the way up, way up. Elevator man with personality. What’s up with the scaffolding that seems top be around the hotel for the last 10 years. Executive suite large room in the interior is a great value too.  Hard to argue if you put this property in the realm of The Mark and The Surrey

 

The Plaza: I have stayed here 4 times none since Fairmont has taken over so it is impossible for me to give it a fair assessment. I wanted to stop by and take a look  but the outside is so crazy You have the horse drawn carrigaes on one side. Citybike across the street and the Plaza as a tourist attraction makes it un appealing to stay here. There are lots of large public spaces where tourists like to congregate.  The Fairmont also owns the Empress in Victoria also one of the main tourist attractions in Victoria but they added a new lobby off to the side where guests can check in and you never seem to be swarmed

Todd English food hall and Plaza food hall has the ring of mall food even though I am sure they were going for an Eataly vibe.  I love the Fairmont brand their hotels always seem of place but I think they would have been better served by taking on the Carlyle instead of the Plaza.

Ritz Carlton Central Park: City View rooms have side park views. Cool park view value play. Club rooms at the Ritz give you access to Complimentary food offerings, including breakfast, light snacks, hors d' oeuvres & desserts, a selection of complimentary beer, wine and cocktails, complimentary Wi-Fi access in the Club Lounge and a dedicated concierge who can assist with anything you may require during your stay. Plus the Virtuoso amenities, woo hoo…. after 3 or 4 days with the family it will pay for your $1000 night out with your lovely  at PerSe or Le Bernardin…..

Mandarin Oriental: Ok I have had a shameless love affair with the Mandarin Oriental since the early 90’s being from San Francisco it was the first lux hotel that hit my radar that and the fact that the Oriental in Bangkok was the perennial favorite of Conde Nast for several years running. I booked two concierges, the sales manager’s personal travel and had a fantastic rate there. One year I stayed here over 50 room nights. I have stayed at 10 Mandarin hotels worldwide. I love this brand. So when I take the elevator to the 35th floor and walk out in the lobby of the NY Mandarin it all comes back to me. The world and especially NY needs to be viewed from this height. I would take an East river view at the Mandarin just as easily. The Park Views are stunning as well even though some rooms are blocked by the eyesore Trump Tower. “With direct access to the Time Warner Center Restaurant, Bar Collection and Dizzy's Jazz Club via guest elevators, the hotel becomes a destination within itself” Virtuoso tip. Dining at Asiate and drinks at Aviary (a place where you can blow 200 bucks and not catch a buzz) is an experience all in itself. The spa is great and Spa suites with in room sauna, steam, soaking tub and fireplace is sooo good.

Down side: people afraid of heights or flying stay away…. Prices are half again as much as all the other best places which makes this my #2 Hotel  and the fact that I love the Mark (a former Mandarion) even though its probably worth it and only 25% more than the Four Seasons, Baccarat for which this property would be a no brainer.

 

Trump Tower: EW! Jean George is the savior here and now that he has just lost a star he will probably be more hands on here. My suggestions though is move out of protest and get that star back and return to fame at a better location.

Intercontinental Barclay: This is a very interesting property and one that is the Virtuoso value play property I assume it has taken the place of the Benjamin which used to be the Virtuoso value play soo  if you can put up with the zoo of midtown, the Virtuoso amenity gets you upgraded to the club lounge where you can eat and drink 57 times a day stuff a couple of croissants in your pocket and your off….

Club guests can indulge in a range of complimentary food and beverage offerings including breakfast items, light refreshments, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. A wide-array of tailored services are also included, such as complimentary internet, daily and local newspapers, and personalized check-in/check-out services.

Club InterContinental® Hours:
6:30 am to 8:00 pm

Breakfast: 6:30 am to 10:30 am
Beverage Service: 10:30 am to 2:00 pm
Light snacks: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Afternoon Treats: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Pre-Theater Service: 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

 

 

Waldorf Astoria The one and only that launched Hilton’s flagship brand.  Think old classics that have been redone to their former glory think Arizona Biltmore, La Quinta, The Roosevelt.  It has been just been closed for a two year full renovation and may emerge as The place to stay (given the midtown location) These classic properties definitely give you a sense of place. New Waldorf’s however will be sleek and modern which will confuse the brand but we will see….

St Regis The one and only the launched the Starwood flagship brand (now Marriwood) I truly believe this brand was created to compete with Four Seasons resorts. Luxury Collection compete with Waldorf brand. There is a high quality benchmark here that competes well but for some reason I do not get sense of place here It could be a St Regis anywhere.  My best client stays at the Mark when he can get the St Regis for free with points. Where its worth it see: St Regis SF

Four Seasons The Four Seasons just does it better than everyone else and it is reflected in the prices. They are the worldwide gold standard brand. No points either there customers ar loyal regardless of the 2% and when you can afford to be a Four Seasons regular 2% is a good lunch. The lobby is dramatic and the suites are always shown when celebrities and political folks are doing interviews….. Four Seasons also has sameness to it and frequently do not show that sence of Place. There are a handful however that are definitely worth staying at whatever price See: Gresham Palace…..

Peninsula Love this brand still like the Mandarin over its flagship hotel in Hong Kong but the Peninsula Beverly Hills is a top 5 US hotel and tops in LA in my opinion. It’s a property that I have not toured but in the dreaded midtown location.  Will take a look on my next trip. Mental note the concierge is cult famous and  as he says “a tower of secrets” sometimes gets Per Se to add a table for his best customers I wonder if he can do the same at Eleven Madison Park. Might stay here just to see if he can pull this off.

 

Lotte Palace Towers The Palace (still hard for me to call it Lotte) First the Towers is a hotel within a hotel and the rooms and service are to die for This is what Travel and Leisure was talking about when it names The Palace the second best hotel in NY.  The grand staircase is stunning rooms are large and suites are amazing. The Pomme Palais is a French patisserie then churns out jewel deserts and baked goods. For the 3 days we stayed here we grazed every morning here and dessert stored for afternoon bursts of heavenly sweets!

The bad: This property that cured me from Midtown hotels for maybe ever. The only saving grace is the doorman that staved off the craziness from the car to the quiet solitude of the hotel and the reason I tipped him 100 bucks for holding the door and blocking like an NFL lineman. The west 50th embarkation and disembarkation may be the busiest side street in NY. Through the turnstiles I was nearly run over by a passing pedestrian, he may have knocked my molar out and most definitely spilled all of my late top the ground, by some grace of god I did not hit the ground but had to change my clothes lucky I was close. On our night at the Theatre it took 30 minutes to go three blocks by can and over an hour to our destination 20 blocks away. On the last day my daughter and I jumped in a cab that proceeded to hit the car in front then back into the car behind, when the door was flung open by our man and we were ushered out. Our doorman has just saved our lives and I am sure he was trained by the Secret Service. I took to taking the grand staircase 5th Ave entrance when walking it is impossible to get a cab, uber or anything there and would try the entrance at the Pomme Palias for any others looking to escape the Palace. I now look at all midtown hotels in the same light and see that many of them share the mosh pit of NY location.  Sorry Palace loved the hotel the location is a non-starter now and all Midtown hotels are out for me until further investigation continues…

 

Park Hyatt I really, really, wanted to like this place. I have never been a big Hyatt fan but their moves with the Park Hyatt brand seem undeniable. See Park Hyatt Sydney, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Park Hyatt Mendoza. And looking at the building under construction my thought is the hotel will give the Mandarin a run for its money with true sky scraper views. 500 sq. ft rooms is unheard of in NY. So on my visit my expectations were high to say the least. Arriving at the hotel was weird did not see a doorman? Walked into the lobby and was stopped, then  directed around the corner to the elevator (dedicated to the Hyatt) the elevator opened up to the restaurant and the host directed me around the corner again to the lobby, weirder… The front desk two young ladies with laptops were checking people out. One of them a Euro family of 4 with a fair amount of baggage. He asked for a car to the airport, and the receptionist asked if he had Uber on his phone? He reply’s yes and she gets his phone and calls a town car for him the wonders out loud if it will be big enough for his family and their luggage. Did I just see this with my own eyes? What? I will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. It is a new property with I am sure a training curve and the corporate structure probably does not allow to over pay to steal top 5 star employees but… When the dust had settled I got up, presented myself and asked if I could get a tour. I was instructed the the property was full (good for them) and that I could look at the public areas and was sent to the 25th floor which was the spa and pool. The pool was cool on the 25th but the view out the windows had a peekaboo view between the buildings of Central park. The crazy thing is the hotel is not above this floor but below it. Midtown location, sorry about it Park Hyatt hard pass

Baccarat: Only had a chance to walk by this property, the stunning façade though means this deserves much more than a quick walk around I going to get the full tour on my next visit and may try and stay as well. Will we be anticipating a new hotel brand… look out!

Chatawal: Starwood Luxury Collection (now Marriwood) on my recent trip to Amritsar in India I found that the property is owned by a bad ass Sikh business man and is super popular with Punjabi’s. It has been a decade since I looked at this property and I do like Luxury Collection properties Danielli, Gritti Palace, Europa Regina in Venice. I also love the Place hotel in SF but think it would have been better refurbished by an owner with too much money that a corporate structure looking at a bottom line. There is nothing I like more than the super-rich showing off their money restoring a property to its former glory! I’m not sure it is the case here and will add a review on a subsequent visit but midtown Hmm…

 

Langham Place: Conde Nast readers’ choice #1 hotel.  I am super glad to review this property.  I love the brand. At Andrew Harper we used to book the Langham Chicago like chicklets. I had  two sets of clients that stayed here when the Mark was not available. They loved their suite the lobby and had “one of their best NY dinners” Michelin starred Ai Fiorre. The wives though, heavyweight shoppers, did not like the midtown location “it’s too much” even though it seems to be in one of the better midtown locations. I may not be alone in this…..

NY Edition: My new fascination is downtown  and the NY Edition a new Marriott brand I liken the Ritz for millennials. On Madison park next to Eleven Madison park or Nomad restaurant and bar. In the clock tower this place has potential…..

Four Seasons Downtown Stunning lobby, closest to the 9/11 Memorial and Wall Street Spa and lap pool.

W Union Square There is no effing way this should be a Virtuoso Property entry rooms starting a 300 sq ft. its ok to go out to the club but sleep in it, please….. There are other 4 star plus properties without Virtuoso amenities that I would rather stay at. See: NoMad, The Standard or the Wythe in Brooklyn and probably 20 others that are more hipster or for Millennials, Gen X, Y , Z, come on man. Raise your cool factor and stay at a better property. Tell us how you really feel.

The Greenwich The ultimate insiders hotel by design. I literally walked by the entrance to the lobby 3 times before I noticed gentlemen in white short sleeve shirts and khakis could have easily been a few Mormon boys out spreading the word.  Only guests and their guests are allowed in the bar and lounge area. The rooms look like you are staying at someone’s estaely home. Free snacks, candy bars chips, cookies will easily run 10 bucks at the 7-11 and 200 bucks at the Mark are free here. Sate of the art Spa with a pool is a plus too. This hotel is highest on my list to stay and after my tour I am so all about it!

Ritz Battery Park.  “With striking views over New York Harbor, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park offers a superlative cosmopolitan experience, conveniently located in downtown Manhattan. Discover it all: from sailing the Hudson, to touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, to visiting the 9/11 Memorial and museum and taking in the One World Observatory a short stroll away, to the buzz of Wall Street and the chic nearby neighborhoods of SoHo and the Meatpacking District. Upgrade your stay with Club Lounge access — the perfect place to begin and end your day is in the comfort of this exclusive VIP lounge” Virtuoso. View rooms come with telescopes.

Trump Soho:  again EW! If trump wasn’t polarizing enough how did a property end up in SoHo soo weird. I really doubt foreign nationals will be staying here to curry favor with Trump. Maybe after he gets impeached and files for bankruptcy one more time he will come back as a cult hero….. NOT!

Gaveenspoort Park Ave Newest entry brand in NY and Virtuoso downtown “Manhattan is abuzz about The Drift, a beach-inspired bar and lounge set atop the hotel's tri-level, 20-story-high rooftop and offering beach-inspired cocktails, appetizers and games”.  Also in the NoMad District and cool architecture requires more examination.