Take a step back in time (through a passage lined with suede and leather, of course) to the golden age of travel and the magnificent new Art Deco hotel The Chatwal. Opened recently in August of 2011, it has quickly become one of the places to stay in New York and to be honest, it isn't difficult to see why: a dream location in the heart of Manhattan, superbly appointed, world ?class accommodations, a luxury spa and a fine restaurant. Marrying both old world glamour and modern day luxury, this 'baby grand' hotel will appeal to those looking for good old fashioned service in a romantic setting with everything that makes this a great city within reach.
If you are considering The Chatwal for your first visit of you simply want to be close to the action then you could not ask for a better situation. On West 44th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, you've got the following within several blocks of the hotel: Times Square, the Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Station, the Fashion District and heaps of shopping opportunities on Fifth and Madison Avenues. A little further away, within 15 minutes' walk you can be in Central Park, visiting the Empire State Building or catching a train at Penn Station. The hotel is well served by the subway with at least 10 different lines passing through the three or four stations nearby. JFK airport is 17 miles away, La Guardia 9 miles and Newark 17.
Built in the very early 20th century by legendary architect Stanford White, the building which now houses The Chatwal was originally named Lambs, the first professional theatrical club in America, so called after Charles and Mary Lamb. Past members have included Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Douglas Fairbanks and Fred Astaire and much of the history of the club has been alluded to in Thierry Despont(s hotel design. The Chatwal is part of the family-owned Hampshire Hotels and Resorts group whose portfolio also includes Dream hotel.
Before heading straight inside the hotel, take a moment to look up at the first floor windows, or rather their surround. You'll notice the marble façade and its intricately carved columns featuring ram heads, an original feature from the days when the building was home to theatrical types. Once you have admired the craftsmanship of the exterior, head inside and into the hotel's wonderful Art Deco lobby - proof that all good things come in small packages. At once striking and warmly welcoming, it features to the left a perfectly formed polished stainless steel reception desk with lamps from the period and, almost more importantly, a couple of flower arrangements not featuring the ubiquitous orchid which most New York hotels unimaginatively resort to in order to brighten up their public spaces. To the right is a seating area with brown leather banquettes and their conical Art Deco lamps skirting a wall with a huge mural of an enclosed bridge between two historic New York buildings by Mark Beard and in front are round, glass topped tables surrounded by red leather armchairs. All this is wrapped in stained birch wood panelling with aluminium strips. You'll find the staff at both the reception and concierge to be delightfully helpful and professional.
The welcome you'll receive at the hotel's spa, run by kashwére, is on a par with the quality of both the treatments and the décor. It boasts three treatment rooms including a manicure/pedicure room with copper bowls for the feet and a bubinga wood door, three private changing suites each with its own steam shower, a saltwater lap pool and two plunge pools (hot and cold). Other features include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the use of bamboo microfibre sheets and the option to customise your treatment by choosing the music, lights and aromas. Treatments on offer include massages, body treatments, facials, waxing and other aesthetics. Before and after your experience you can relax in the lounge and help yourself to tea and other refreshing drinks as well as snacks. Attached to the facility is a fitness centre with the latest machines for a full workout. Have a go on the tennis ball massage chair in the corner of the room!
Being a brand new hotel you won't be surprised to learn that it is in excellent condition and that everything is still pretty much sparkling. With a relatively small number of rooms access to them is hassle-free via the lifts fitted with televisions and the smart, generous corridors.
Guests have the choice of 83 handsomely appointed guestrooms and suites divided into 13 categories. All have been decorated by Thierry Despont and even the most basic room is generously proportioned and boasts fine amenities. The beds, whose mattresses have been custom-made by Shifman, are dressed in 400 thread cont Frette linens with a light caramel-coloured border. This detail is complimented by hues of the curtains, carpet and suede covered walls, while the furniture is of a slightly darker tone and comprises a designer armchair and pouffe, matching leather covered bedside tables, wardrobe and drawer unit and several Art Deco lamps. Discretely hidden behind one of those wardrobe doors is the minibar which, as well as containing everything you need for whichever drink you desire, also holds luxury snacks, magazines and other Chatwal products such as scented candles or playing cards. Amenities in the room include a 42" flatscreen television, cordless telephone, Tivoli radio, a leather encased backgammon set and a touch screen telephone which also controls the lighting and shades. In the closet you'll find an umbrella, safe, DVD player and bathrobes. The bathroom, a million miles away from the room in terms of design (not distance, don't worry!) is entirely mirrored and boasts sleek, shiny fittings on a double vanity, a large, walk-in monsoon shower, television screen implanted into the main mirror, a heated Toto toilet and exclusive Asprey toiletries. Even the standard rooms have the option of coming with a private terrace at an additional cost and on request. The most basic rooms have a view onto the hotel's courtyard however most look onto the street (44th Street). The hotel's suites offer extra living space with either seating alcoves or separate living areas with sofas, armchairs, coffee tables and additional televisions. Others have extra bedrooms and bathrooms and boast comforts such as working granite fireplaces, jacuzzi baths and roof decks with spectacular views over the city. Make no mistake about it, these are some of the finest rooms in the city.
The Lambs Club is the hotel's restaurant and bar and is dominated by a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace given as a gift to the original theatrical group by Stanford White. Hung on the black wood walls, which stand in contrast to the red leather banquettes which hug them, are black and white portraits of former members of Lambs as well as a mural depicting gentlemen in tuxedos enjoying a drink and smoke at the bar. The tables are laid as immaculately as the service is given and guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and pre-and post-theatre dining at the restaurant. All is overseen by chef/owner Geoffrey Zakarian who has not only worked in some of the city's hottest eateries, but who also appears regularly on the Food Network television station in the States.
Morning brings freshly baked pastries, cold meats, cheese, bagels, smoothies and even grilled grapefruit with sugar and ginseng. If you prefer something warm then go for the eggs the way you want, chicken fried steak or lemon ricotta pancakes.
The lunch menu features appetisers such as pork ravioli and butternut squash soup which can be followed by a salad or sandwich (chicken cob salad, Maine lobster roll), grilled octopus or crispy ocean trout. The dinner menu offers may of the same dishes with the addition of such dishes as veal sweetbread for starters and monkfish for mains. The mouth-watering dessert menu entices with delicacies including double chocolate ginger cake, buckwheat crêpes and home-made cookies.
At the bar upstairs, which features a gleaming counter over which Empire State Building-shaped lights hang down, you can enjoy a cocktail (or other) from some of the finest barmen in the city.
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