The intention of the Four Season's Chinese-born American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei, was to create a hotel "in the grand tradition of a former time when going to a hotel was an occasion." Thanks to his ingenuity and vision those days live on in our time. A Four Seasons, wherever it may be in the world, is synonymous with quality and timeless sophistication and this spectacular New York example is no exception. It is a hotel of superlatives: the tallest New York hotel, the largest standard rooms in the city, the most expensive hotel suite in the world. Whether you are travelling as a family, couple or friends, on business or pleasure, and want to be guaranteed a flawless stay, you need look no further.
The Four Seasons enjoys a prime location on East 57th Street between Park and Madison Avenues, next door to the Fuller Building. It is minutes away from Central Park, MoMA and the Rockefeller Center and could not be better situated for shopping. There are several metro stops close by including 59th Street-Lexington Avenue and 5th Avenue, which go straight to Times Square and many of Manhattan's other top attractions. JFK airport is 19 miles away, La Guardia 10 miles and Newark 18.
The building housing the hotel was built as a Four Seasons and opened in June 1993. Designed by I. M. Pei, it was the architect's first hotel project (for which he came out of retirement) in the Western Hemisphere and at a shade under 700ft it is the tallest hotel in New York City. The Ty Warner Penthouse on the 52nd floor (named after the hotel's owner, the creator of the Beanie Babies) claims to be the most expensive on the planet, coming with a price tag of $35,000 per night. The interior of the hotel was designed by Peter Marino, renowned for his retail creations for some of the biggest names in fashion including Chanel, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Armani and Donna Karan.
Despite coming up to only its 17th birthday, the Four Seasons is an architectural landmark that dominates its immediate surroundings. Both the exterior and interior walls of the building are clad in limestone from the French town of Magny, considered by many to be the finest in the world (Mr. Pei used the same material for his extension of The Louvre).
The overriding feature is the use of setbacks which are used to decrease the space available as the tower rises, therefore making the suites occupying the loftier floors of the hotel more isolated and therefore more exclusive. The Grand Lobby is one of considerable grandeur with the onyx ceiling topping a hall of 33ft in height. The rotunda is the centre piece of the lobby and at either side are dining venues. At its rear are stairs leading to the reception area which has Danish beech wood paneling. The lobby, which continues right through the building reaching 58th Street, houses The Bar and L'Atelier at its rear. The great hall's marble floors and Art Deco lamps both evoke the golden age of travel.Take time to check out what's on display in the room given over to showing work from an art gallery on 57th Street.
The hotel of course has a fitness room featuring top-of-the-range machines and free weights with abundant water, fruit and towels. The Spa, which is run by the hotel, is a true oasis in the middle of the city and offers the highest quality in wellness through massage, facials, body treatments and manicures and pedicures using amongst others, Dr. Hauschuka and Valmont products.
You can wander wherever you like within the hotel and you will not find a single flaw in terms of its upkeep as it is constantly being refurbished. Iconic black and white photography has found a home along the impeccable corridors. It is hardly surprising that the staff are of the highest caliber and in a city where pets are often considered as equal to humans, the hotel has no choice but to be pet-friendly (providing they are not too big!) Kids are also looked after with a special package available giving discounts on family stays and a host of goodies for children aged between two and 17. As well as the business centre, wifi is available on a complimentary basis throughout the hotel.
The hotel offers a broad range of rooms from the 600ft² standard rooms (the most generous in New York) to the most expensive hotel suite on the planet in the form of the Ty Warner Penthouse. Between the two are thirteen different types of room which, as their floor number grows become increasingly spacious, have better views (Central Park, Chrysler building, Rockefeller Centre, Empire State Building) and boast such luxuries as terraces and separate living spaces.
The Standard rooms, whose overriding hue is tan, is beautifully appointed with fine English sycamore cabinetry and has sufficient space for a table and chairs as well as, on the opposite side of the room, two armchairs and matching pouffes. With huge windows and high ceilings the space is bright and airy. Expect to find top quality amenities such as flatscreen television, Bose clock radio, DVD player, bathrobes, slippers, shoe shine kit, iron and ironing board, safe, well-stocked minibar with drinks bar and generous storage space. The bathroom is fitted with irresistible peach, beige and grey marble and has both a bathtub and shower with two heads. The toiletries are supplied by Bulgari and you'll find a small television screen in the corner of the vanity. All the above can of course be found in superior rooms such as the Four Seasons Suite, the smallest of the suites, whose bedroom is relatively modest in order to accommodate the sizeable salon.
Unfortunately we were not privileged enough to visit the Penthouse, but we did see the next best thing, the Presidential Suite. Exquisitely furnished with horn tables, a working fireplace, flatscreen televisions embedded in the walls, a library and two outstanding chess sets, the salon also boasts a terrace in two halves with views of Madison and Fifth Avenues, the whole of Central Park and further afield the East River and George Washington Bridge and on a good day Tappan Zee. The small hallway features beautiful art pieces, including an extremely weighty bronze chair by Claude Lalanne. The bathroom has a double vanity and auto-flush toilet but perhaps best of all is the view of the Statue of Liberty through a tiny gap to the left of the Empire State Building. The room itself also has stunning views of the East River and Queens straight ahead and of Brooklyn to the left.
It's no coincidence that Joël Robuchon, holder of the most Michelin stars of any chef, chose to open a New York version of his Parisian L'Atelier at the Four Seasons. Despite only offering a dinner service, it is the star turn amongst the hotel's eateries and for good reason.
The neatly underlit U-shaped pear wood bar, which encircles the open kitchen, can accommodate up to 20 guests while the rest of rest of the restaurant, split into four quarters, can seat another 30.There are three different menus, each reflecting the fact that the chef was handpicked by Robuchon and Warner from Japan: one offering small tasting portions (poached baby Kyusu oysters, Kobe rib eye steak), another à la carte (foie gras ravioli, free-ranged caramelized quail) and a third 'découverte' with the option of wine pairing (Ossetra caviar, pan seared sea bass). Needless to say that both the setting and quality and presentation of the food are matched by the wine list.
Just opposite the restaurant is The Bar which opens after lunch and offers snacks such as Chicken Empanadas and Grilled Shrimp Linguini from 6pm. The Garden, off the lobby, is open for breakfast, brunch (weekends only) and lunch and while perhaps not in the league of L'Atelier, offers its own brand of New York vibrancy in an agreable, bright setting. In the morning you can choose between several set breakfasts or build your own while at lunch fish, meat, salads and burgers are on the menu. There is also a kids menu featuring simpler dishes. In the evening The Garden transforms itself into a wine bar.
Finally TY, a lounge on the opposite side of the lobby from The Garden, is open from after lunch until 10pm and serves tea, cocktails and a light dinner (and acts as an overflow for breakfast when the hotel is full). This sophisticated Manhattan living room is extremely cosy thanks in large part to the gas fireplace but also the attractive twig arrangements at each end of the room and the collection of vases and bowls dotted around the space.
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