Although coming up to its eleventh anniversary as The Benjamin, this 1927 building now has an interior to match its Art Deco origins. During this past decade no renovation has been undertaken and it is true to say that this is starting to show. However this does not take away from the quality of the product or from the service which remains top notch. Just like the other properties in the Denihan Hospitality Group (notably the Affinias), the rooms are spacious and the hotel is ideal if you're looking for a traditional, more classic style of base from which to uncover the city. Recommended for tourists (couples, friends or families) and for business travellers wanting a comfortable space in which to work.
The hotel is located on the corner of East 50th Street and Lexington Avenue in the Midtown East district of Manhattan. Both Madison and Fifth Avenues are a couple of blocks away from the property as is the Rockefeller Centre, with Times Square and Bryant Park a tad further. In terms of getting around by public transport, Lexington Avenue-53rd Street is very close by and Grand Central can be reached on foot in just a few minutes. JFK airport is 17 miles away, La Guardia 9 miles and Newark 16.
The Benjamin hotel, named after the founder of the group that owns the property, was formerly the Hotel Beverly and is housed in a 1920s building designed by the renowned New York architect Emery Roth, responsible for so many of the city's Art Deco hotels and apartment blocks, including the Warwick Hotel. The Benjamin takes sleep very seriously and guarantees that you will get the perfect night's sleep. There is a choice of 12 pillows to choose from, including the 'Snore-No-More' and the 'Lullaby' into which you can plug your MP3 player. The Sleep Concierge is at your service to help you choose your pillow and arrange anything that will help you sleep peacefully.
You won't miss The Benjamin being as it is on the corner of one of New York's most famous roads and due to the enormous flags flapping outside. The lobby, which is slightly eerie in its emptiness, is nonetheless a faithful representation of the dominant style at the time of the building's construction. Immediately to the right of the entrance is the concierge desk which is manned by cheery staff and is where we spotted The Rt Hon David Lammy MP on his way out to dinner one evening. Three mirrors dominate the right wall, the middle one being partly obscured by a pretty flower arrangement. The reception desk itself, at the back of the hall, has a moulded golden front illuminated from under the surface. A portrait of Benjamin J. Denihan presides over the reception. One floor up from the reception is a wonderful take on an Art Deco lounge, complete with typical seating, lamps and objets such as the Wild and Wolf style telephone. Fancy tinkling the ivories? A grand piano adds the finishing touch to the extremely civilized space. The hotel has both a gym and a wellness centre, Rejuvenate. The former has a range of fitness machines with individual screens on the cardio apparatus while the latter offers several skin care treatments, massages and body wraps(also available in-room) as well as day treatments a steam room in each locker room. As you'd expect from a hotel of this standing, the staff are extremely professional yet down to earth and the upkeep of the hotel is faultless.
The Benjamin is essentially a suite hotel, although of the 209 rooms, 48 are regular guestrooms. All rooms are decorated in a similar way with just the shape and size changing as the category ascends. The standard room is a tad dull in terms of colour with tan wallpaper and deep brown furniture and after over a decade could probably do with a revision. The custom made beds are a delight to sleep in, made all the more inviting by the high quality 500 thread count linen dressing them. For those on a business trip, a desk in the room means you can work in the peace and quiet of your sound-proofed room. You'll also find I the room a flatscreen television, iron and ironing board, umbrella, bathrobes, tea and coffee facilities and a minibar and snacks. The bathrooms are fitted out in white marble and feature branded toiletries, hairdryer and bathtub. The Deluxe Studio is a larger version of the standard Guest Room, while the One Bedroom Suite and its deluxe version offer greater comfort in the form of a separate living area with (dated) furniture, a hi-fi system, second television and extra storage space, with the deluxe rooms boasting a balcony. Both thee rooms also have fully-equipped kitchenettes with microwave, ridge-freezer and crockery. The VIP suite includes a dining area in addition.
The dining facilities at The Benjamin are a little disappointing considering the standing of the hotel. There is a small private restaurant, The Wine Room, available for hire for up to 12 people, however this not the type of place where you can just walk in and have a meal. Open from 4.30pm until midnight everyday though is The Emery Bar, named after the hotel's architect. The mural of a New York cityscape captures some of Roth's other masterpieces such as The Beresford and The Eldorado. The bar is a lively hangout with a mix of locals and tourists and plenty of after work business coming for drinks and cocktails. The décor is simple but ambient with blue lighting hovering above the bar and comfortable seating around the bar, while the staff is cheery and east to talk to. Simple food is available too with appetizers such as chicken wings, empanadas and crisps and dips. There is a modest selection of salads and sandwiches however for something more substantial it would be better to head out the hotel to a nearby restaurant of which there is a good selection.
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