Three new hotel openings are offering a multitude of reasons to stay in Manhattan. They’ve made the beds, so now we lie in them.
This 46-storey property on Central Park South was built in 1971 and was in dire need of an update when design studio Yabu Pushelberg moved in. Long the shabbiest space in this exclusive enclave, the hotel now looks right at home in the area that’s sometimes referred to as Billionaires’ Row.
Ritz-Carlton alumnus Prince A Sanders is managing director on behalf of owner Highgate. “You feel like you’re still part of the park,” says Sanders, gesturing to the plant-motif murals in the rooms as he shows us around. And it’s Central Park that rightly takes centre stage. Many rooms have great views over the green
space but the best ones are from Darling, a rooftop lounge that’s filled with plants and dotted with rattan chairs.
Another theme is the building itself. “The designers wanted to play with the fact that the hotel opened in 1971,” says Sanders as we pass a plush velvet tub seat. There are mid-century chairs, patterned carpets and murals everywhere. “It’s a nod to the past and it honours that retro feel.”
To breathe new life into the food and drink on offer, Sanders tapped restaurateur Scott Sartiano (of Zero Bond club and several downtown restaurants) to oversee the menus and bring his culinary chops uptown. The hotel’s flagship restaurant is Harry’s Bar, tucked away on the second floor. With its blue panelled walls and intimate booths, there’s nowhere better for a late-night martini or cosmopolitan. “We wanted a throwback to that old New York charm,” says Sanders.
Downstairs is Rose Lane, an all-day French bistro-inspired café that transforms into a buzzy bar by night. In the early evening, patrons grab seats at the gas fireplace or along the bar, where cocktails such as the central park south (gin, Campari, melon de Provence, sweet vermouth and lemon) are served with aplomb, alongside a small selection of New York-style pizza from the oven.
Perhaps what’s most striking about Park Lane, however, is how accessible it feels. In an area known for its exclusivity, the hotel is the sort of place you can saunter into, no questions asked.
A few steps from busy Broadway is a quiet gem: Civilian. Unlike the lit-up theatre buildings and flashing signs that dominate this stretch between West 48th Street and 8th Avenue, the Civilian is unassuming; walk past the narrow brick building and you might even miss it.
For Jason Pomeranc, founder of hotel group Sixty Collective, and architect David Rockwell, the property is a tribute to New York’s theatre district. “It was a real labour of love,” says Rockwell, who conceived the hotel with plenty of nods to its neighbourhood. Inside, the space is licked with deep reds and dramatic bright blues and no shortage of Broadway paraphernalia. In the lobby, guests are greeted by a row of theatre-style seating and a spiral staircase surrounded by drapes, which leads up to the bar where models of the current Broadway show sets are on display. The nearby Blue Room, a jewellery box of a lounge, is lined with glass cabinets containing histrionic curios.
The theatrical theme doesn’t stop there. The wallpaper that lines the halls is by costume designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo and in the interior of the elevator is bedecked with sketches from the show Hamilton. In the street-level restaurant the sconces include drawings by scenic designers that represent 41 theatres along Broadway. There’s even an analogue board displaying all the current shows should guests care to step out for a performance after checking in.
The 203 guest rooms are reasonably roomy, with some featuring velvet-draped four-poster beds and costume-trunk-inspired closets. Sumptuous seats and floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the storied street continue the theatrics.
The hidden-away nature of the place is a big part of the appeal – you wouldn’t guess you were a few blocks from busy Times Square. It’s exactly what you need from a hotel here: a bit of a show, with none of the drama.
On a Friday evening, Bar Pendry is humming and a seat is hard to come by in a way that was scarcely imaginable a year ago. That said, even before the pandemic, Manhattan West – on the Hudson River – was something of a forgotten part of town.
Pendry Manhattan West hotel is a newcomer to Hudson Yards, an area blighted by underwhelming reviews when it opened in 2019 but that has been steadily gaining footfall thanks to the nearby High Line. This hotel is one of the more exciting additions to an area that includes restaurants by star chefs including Danny Meyer.
The property’s undulating edifice is designed by architecture studio SOM (responsible for One World Trade Center) and fits in with the district’s glass and steel vernacular. “It’s meant to capture the energy of the area,” says Danielle Choi, SOM’s director of sales and marketing. But behind the somewhat chilly façade it’s all sunny finishes: a nod to Pendry’s sunny Californian origins. “It’s an opportunity for us to bring the things that inspire us as a brand to this iconic and electric city,” says Michael Fuerstman, co-founder and creative director of Pendry Hotels & Resorts.
Pendry is a more contemporary brand from hospitality group Montage Resorts, which has a number of resorts across the US, including California. To transport a slice of the West Coast to the east, the team worked with Gachot Studios. The lobby is filled with light wood as well as a fireplace and simple mid-century-style sofas. There’s an abundance of plants and strip lighting inspired by the work of artists from the Light and Space movement, such as James Turrell. The ground floor is home to the glowing Bar Pendry with its gold-plate ceiling, and Zou Zou’s, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant where ingredients such as sea bass and artichokes are cooked over an open fire. Upstairs is cocktail lounge Chez Zou, which is modelled on a 1960s speakeasy in Beirut. The rooms are a quieter affair. Featuring panelled wood with a Japanese aesthetic, they have floor-to-ceiling windows, oval baths and beds from which guests can look down at the city but, luckily, won’t hear it.