It all started right here in 1984 when Andrée Putman, the celebrated French interior designer, unveiled the Morgans hotel and triggered what was to be arguably the greatest phenomenon in hotel history by creating the boutique hotel. Renovated last in 2008, still with a large input from Mrs. Putman, the property has kept the same values which has made it and the other hotels in the group of the same name what they are today. An innovative design, functionality, a renowned restaurant and a superb location combine to produce a property which still meets the heavy expectations placed upon its shoulders. Recommended strongly for friends, families or couples as well as those in town on business. Once a classic, always a classic.
The Morgans enjoys a great location on Madison Avenue, not quite so far up as to be in amongst all the boutiques, but close enough to be able to reach them on foot in around fifteen minutes. The Rockefeller Center is therefore also a short stroll away and Bryant Park just several minutes' walk, the other side of which is Times Square. Several blocks up from the hotel is Grand Central Station, while Penn Station is a quarter of an hour away on foot. As well as metro stations at the two railway stations, you can also catch it at Fifth Avenue next to New York Public Library. JFK and Newark are both 17 miles away while La Guardia is 8 miles.
The Morgans is part of the Morgans group of hotels which also includes the Hudson and the Royalton in New York as well as several other properties in the US and UK. It was the first of the group's ventures and was the world's very first boutique hotel. The group was started by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, co-founders of the legendary nightclub of the 70s and 80s Studio 54. A recurring theme throughout the hotel is the black and white check with can be seen in the lobby and in the rooms and bathrooms. This is meant to be a tribute to the old style New York cabs, but also recalls oversize pixels in a nod of recognition to the digital age.
The exterior of the hotel is a rather non-descript brown brick building whose first floor windows are jollified with red flower plants. The entrance is through the middle of three arches on the façade of the building on Madison Avenue. The minimalist, intimate lobby features a black, grey and white trompe l'oeil cubist carpet while above on the ceiling is a light show which projects random colourful patterns such as red cubes, expanding blue diamonds or marching blue and white spots. The walls are frosted perspex panels lit from above by a yellow light, while the seating consists of a dozen or so grey armchairs around lacquered white tables. Up on the fourth floor is the Living Room, open 24 hours to guests where you can slump in front of the television after a hard day's sightseeing, read a book or magazine or even use the central table for working. Complimentary tea and coffee is laid on while a business centre is also available. For those guests who have a late flight out of the city but have already checked out there is a full bathroom in the Living Room to freshen up. Opened in October of 2009, the hotel's modest fitness centre has a few good cardio machines and a bench for lifting free weights. All parts of the hotel are immaculately kept and the staff too is extremely pleasant. During our visit one of the team thought he had lost something very precious to him and despite being asked several times, after check out, to let back into the room(and that after having emptied out his suitcase in the lobby) the receptionists were graceful until the end. The object was eventually found in the suitcase once back home.
At Morgans, there is an accommodation type to suit absolutely everyone. All rooms feature the same décor and many of the amenities remain consistent throughout. The standard room features, similarly to tall the others, a checked carpet in shaded of grey where each square diffuses into the next, while the wall surrounding the window is clad in metal sheeting which works in perfect harmony with the rest of the room's décor. Below the window is a clean lined tope coloured couch while opposite the bed, which is draped in the trade mark black and white checkered plaid, there is a silver coloured desk with a fold out mirror which closes flush with the surface as well as a drawer which opens outwards from the desk's rounded corner-the perfect marriage between functionality and design. At the desk is a simple white metallic chair while a hand-stitched armchair sits in the corner. Amenities in the room include a flatscreen television, Putman-designed lamps, a small, chic alarm clock at the bedside, along with La Notte lamps, and a full minibar. You'll find in the closet an iron and ironing board, robe and umbrella. There is also the latest edition of the Morgans group mix CD available to purchase-you'll find a copy on your desk. The bathroom is boldly tiled in black and white and has metallic sinks (the same that were to be found in ill-fated Concorde), bathtub and Korres toiletries. The two types of superior room are slightly bigger than the standard and have city views rather than looking out on to courtyard views. The loft room is a large open space room with a seating area in front of the bed. The Corian coffee table at the centre has upon it a four-leafed clover shaped bowl and a black and white checkered eating tray. Above the sofa with plush cushions are a couple of black and white art photographs. The loft's bathroom has both an oval bathtub and shower. In terms of suites, there is a one and two bedroom which is the same as the loft except that the living area is separate and the latter has windows on three sides. The balcony suite and window suites do exactly what they say on the tin, the latter with a whole wall of windows. The jewel in the Morgans crown is the magnificent duplex penthouse which boasts its own kitchen, two balconies, living area and dining space for 10. The views are not bad either!
Asia de Cuba has now become renowned worldwide restaurant brand, although Morgans hotel is the home of the original outlet. Also signed Starck, a 30ft long illuminated marble communal table runs from the entrance to the back of the room lined with 30 or so stools, each one with a different embroidered back. At the end of the room is a lightbox showing the image of waterfall which is itself against a background of a white curtain lit from behind with a red lamp. Around the central table are cluster of round marble table and to the edges are alcoves of seating featuring white leather banquettes. Upstairs in the gallery which runs along three sides of the room is the bar with lounge areas and stools with a small surface on which to pose your drink, rather like those American-style high school chairs with fold-up desks. A continental breakfast is served in the restaurant between 7am and 11am during the week and between 8am and noon at the weekend. For lunch it's a prix fixe affair priced at $29 where you can choose several appetizers and entrees depending on how many in your party. The menu offers starters such as lemongrass skewered chicken and beef dumplings two ways while for mains you can opt for such dishes as sweet soy wild salmon or char Sui beef short ribs. In the evening things change to à la carte where the tradition is to enjoy one of many cocktails before sitting down to dishes including Asian pesto grilles shrimp or crab croquetas for starters and lobster Mai Tai or honey-rhum glazed pot roast of pork for mains. Wash this all down with a glass of wine or a selection of rhums or sakes. Asia de Cuba, whichever city it's in is always one of the trendiest places to eat; New York is no exception.
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