New York City has some amazing hotels to experience
Then there’s the matter of a giant ape mural overlooking the courtyard garden and a restaurant called Harold’s Meat + Three.
It’s Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory meets Mad Men, thanks to a totally new concept in hotel design.
The Arlo in New York’s SoHo sits just outside the main cluster of busy SoHo streets, meaning it is quiet at night.
The contemporary take on a traditional lobby is pleasing – not only to the eye but to the lips too.
Renowned US candy maker Dylan’s has the star gig in this buzzy reception. Order a superb coffee from the Bodega (open 24/7) grab a slice of wicked chocolate cake or a healthier yogurt and fruit pot all while you wait for your luggage to be whizzed up to your room.
SoHo’s Arlo hotel is a psychedelic retreat
The rooms are bijou – and some, for example the City King, are essentially a cube within a cube. Beautiful polished walnut walls and ceilings practically “cocoon” the bed in a little alcove, so those of a claustrophobic disposition will be better off with something a little larger –The City Queen for example.
An on-trend pale grey Corian handbasin sits in the hall while a walk-in shower and loo are contained in a glass box.
There are hair dryers and steamers, yes steamers, to de-crumple travel clothes hanging in pretty linen bags.
Wardrobes take the form of pegs on a pegboard (love it) and dropdown desks are a clever spacesaving option.
The mini bar might be empty – for you to fill – but that means you’d miss out on dining at Harold’s Meat + Three.
Americans do like their larger portions, so I haven’t the heart to tell them it’s actually “two” veg.
The industrial metal chairs and wooden tables and geometric tiles work beautifully.
The central bar with high stools is the place for quick bites while the high tables and chairs along the window give diners a bird’s eye view of the Victoria’s Secret models who work out on the pavement opposite at the Dogpound gym.
If anything is going to hold you back from the fabulous cheeseburgers and fried chicken, and opt for the kale salad and grilled octopus instead, they will.
The lounge area which overlooks a gorgeous courtyard with potted trees and that mural of Frank, the Ape, is constantly busy with people having mini-meetings or a post-tour drink.
The Arlo prides itself with beautiful walnut walls
Here the mid-century vibe sits well with low coffee tables, exotic plants and a long, communal dining table against a wall of shelves filled with books and games.
With so many distractions: live music in The Liquor Bar, movies on the Rooftop Bar, yoga, it is easy to stay put. Soho and the East Village’s lively streets and upmarket shops are a 10-minute walk away.
Or get some wind in your hair on one of the Arlo bikes and head towards the cycle path on the Hudson River.
If nothing else, you’ll come away inspired. l British Airways Holidays (0344 493 0122/ba.com) offers three nights at the Arlo Soho from £589 (two sharing), room only.
Price includes return flights from Heathrow.
The Four seasons is an incredibly welcoming hotel
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL NEW YORK DOWNTOWN
A banana rests on a crisp white linen napkin.
Behind it a bottle of Lucozade and, neatly tied with a ribbon, a little nut bar in a cellophane wrapper.
These aren’t the usual welcome treats one would expect in a hotel but then again, a welcome at the Four Seasons Downtown New York is always going to be special. Somehow in a passing conversation, I must have mentioned I was running the New York Marathon the next day.
Hence the thoughtful array of energyblasting sustenance to help me around the 26.2 miles.
Alongside were tiny macaroons sitting atop a piped chocolate message welcoming me to the Four Seasons, which I couldn’t resist.
Sugar is energy, right? Only a few years ago, following the 9/11 attacks, downtown New York was still a no-go area.
Nobody wanted to be reminded of that awful morning. Now businesses have recognised the new confidence and rapid regeneration of the area so, late last year, Four Seasons opened its second Manhattan outpost here.
It is tucked away in Barclay Street, just a block back from One World Trade Center and the swish shopping mall that is Brookfield Place.
A typically old-school New York facade with ornate iron grille masks its super-minimal and modern interiors – a move away from the usual luxe Four Seasons style.
The Four Seasons has an understated yet defiant look
It matches the area’s mood; understated yet defiant. Copper and glass round tables sit in front of cream fabric sofas.
Modern edgy artworks such as a “pile” of golden books and a giant silver clam balanced on a marble plinth are arresting to say the least.
The walnutclad walls are the only nod to traditional hotel interiors. And there are brilliant displays of flowers, courtesy of floral supremo Jeff Leatham who also does blooms for Oprah Winfrey and the Kardashians.
Upstairs, the rooms are all superenveloping – just what I needed. An art deco, mirror-fronted mini bar sits opposite the door, glistening with crystal classes and a silver ice bucket.
Sampling its contents were sadly a non-starter.
The hallway filters you from possible door-slamming noise – all too frequent in hotels these days. Why can’t people respect fellow guests?
The monogrammed sheets, the little chaise longue in subtle pale grey and cream check was tempting as was the bed with no less than six plumpedup pillows.
I could barely wait. The bathroom was a destination in itself.
A deep bath with a television mounted just so, should you want to watch an old film in the tub, and the walk-in shower was vast.
I couldn’t decide which to go for. I chose a swim in the 75ft lap pool clad in cream mother-of-pearl tiles and lined with sun loungers.
The Four Seasons features a deep bath and mounted television
It offered a vague New York view but that’s about as high as it gets; the upper floors (from level 24) are given over to private residences.
The adjoining spa was sumptuous and offers a beautiful selection of affordable jewellery from nearby designers in Tribeca.
And an array of luscious “leisurewear” such as cashmere jumpers and silky trousers was a temptation.
The hotel’s only restaurant has been franchised out to the well-known US brand Wolfgang Puck.
The bar’s interiors – all dark and moody with black walls and thick, full-length blood red velvet curtains and neon “art” which resembled hot pink lightning flashes – couldn’t have contrasted any more against the subtle gold and cream tones of the lobby.
That said, it worked and the service was slick, New York style. The jumbo prawns in ginger and sesame were sublime, as was the scallop carpaccio. Most however come for the steaks, for which Puck is renowned. The only letdown was the music.
Eighties rock on a loop. Will someone tell them? It’s a great location to embrace the new regenerated Downtown. Ride 102 floors up to the One World Observatory with wrap-around windows taking in the entire Manhattan horizon.
More sobering, yet no less poignant, is the 9/11 Memorial And Museum. From first-hand accounts to burnt-out fire trucks, time hasn’t dimmed the memory.
Opposite the hotel, St Peter’s Church, which played an important role for rescuers in the wake of 9/11, is a statement of resilience and its crooked cross, which was damaged in the attack, stands defiant.
Just like all of Downtown. l Four Seasons Hotel, New York Downtown (00 800 6488 6488/ fourseasons.com) offers doubles from £365, room only. British Airways (0844 493 0787/ba.com) offers return flights from London Heathrow to New York from £368.
The Viceroy is a traditionally stylish hotel
One would have thought Manhattan’s Viceroy Hotel had enlisted the best “fake” interior designer in the business.
This understated, super-stylish hotel tucked into a slim building on West 57th Street, doesn’t shout out to the street with a grand entrance flanked by burly security guards.
Double glass doors, edged in glistening brass and flanked by two dark-suited doormen, were the only indication there might be a hotel beyond.
This is a place which appears to hail from another era. From the glamorous, decadent 1920s with high ceilings, brass fittings, dark wood panelling and low cocktail tables.
It’s tempting to sink into the pale pink leather sofas or deep brown Chesterfield sofas and order a Martini.
The superb concierges, also in discreet dark suits, effortlessly “control” the comings and goings of guests, attending to every whim with confident efficiency – from arranging a pick-up of a forgotten charger to scoring tickets for a sought-after show.
In reality this hotel is a brilliant exercise in smoke and mirrors for the Viceroy isn’t an original 1920s art deco gem that’s been given a superb makeover.
It was only built in 2013. Upstairs, rooms feature rich, full-length wood panel bedheads and curved cupboards on each side.
One houses the well-stocked mini bar – everything from champagne to coconut water plus an Illy espresso machine – while the other has an essential ironing board.
It’s the little gestures too, that make this hotel so different.
Viceroy guests are greeted with a gift of chocolates to see them through their stay
Minutes after I arrived in my room; a gentle knock on the door heralded the delivery of a bag of chocolate and nut clusters – just what you need to take you through a night in bed with a good movie.
Carefully chosen books sit on the shelf above the desk, photographic tomes including The Seasons Of New York, highlight just how dramatic they really are in the Big Apple.
There are poems about the city and stories galore, so if you’ve forgotten your novel there’s something here for every mood.
The traffic flows gently down 7th Avenue past the tall apartment blocks – offering you a sneaky glimpse into the privileged life of people who can actually afford to live in Manhattan.
You’re also just one block from Central Park so it seems churlish not to get out into Manhattan’s most stunning green space. I joined a tour with a fabulous little company, fittoursnyc.com.
Meeting at 59th Street, after an introduction by the effervescent Meredith – and a few stretches, we headed off through the park for the hour’s jog.
It was dreamy running through the ever-changing terrain; over the grand stone Bethesda Terrace and around lakes dotted with vintage miniature sailing boats.
We paid our respects at John Lennon’s memorial, the Imagine Mosaic at Strawberry Fields, and relived our youth at the Alice In Wonderland statue.
It was a fascinating insight into the locals’ favourite park. Did you know it has a castle, Castle Belvedere, at the park’s highest point?
Jane enjoyed the jog through the locals favourite park
I’d earned breakfast by the time I got to the Kingside Brasserie back at the Viceroy. All industrial chic with black and white tiles, metal and wooden stools and curved metal-topped bar.
Chef Marc Murphy has introduced diverse recipes gleaned from his Italian and French roots such as the raw and crude bar serving charcuterie and cheeses.
Or the more classic Boston rib steaks and cobb salad. By night, from The Roof “top” bar, look over into Central Park as you sip a Manhattan.
There’s no finer sight in the Big Apple.
British Airways Holidays (as before) offers three nights at the Viceroy Central Park from £599 (two sharing), room only. Price includes return flights from Heathrow. New York tourism: nycgo.com