66 PARK AVENUE AT 38TH ST, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK 10016, USANew York, United States of America -See the map
Amy AdejokunSection editor
This high class property is everything one would expect from New York's only Japanese-owned hotel: exceptionally calm and quiet, meticulously decorated and appointed and very much focused on giving the very best customer service (which is succeeds in doing with flying colours). With its immaculate, generously sized guestrooms, top class restaurant and bar and excellent location, there is very little for us to pick holes at at The Kitano. While a large proportion of the hotel's guests hail, naturally, from Japan, any demanding traveller will appreciate the luxury and professionalism of this wonderful establishment which would suit any type of traveller to the city.
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You really couldn't ask for a better location, especially as a first time tourist, than that of The Kitano, on the corner of Park Avenue and 38th Street. Although the hotel is four blocks away from the closest station, it happens to be Grand Central where you have a huge choice of subway and regional train lines. Within a 15-minute walk you have Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, Times Square, the Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, the theatres and plenty of shopping on Fifth and Madison Avenues. If you're feeling particularly fit you could walk all the way to either Uptown or Downtown although a cab won't cost you that much. JFK is 16 miles away, La Guardia 8 miles and Newark 16.
There are a total of 149 guestrooms and suites at The Kitano, including a unique Tatami suite with veritable Japanese décor. All rooms are decorated in rather a sober fashion, although there is no doubting the quality of the furniture (made from mahogany and cherry wood), upholstery and amenities which have to meet the high standards expected of the high number of Japanese guests. The standard rooms are of a very respectable size for this part of town and are carpeted and painted in tones of tan and cream, similar colours to the curtains and armchairs. The rooms have a king bed dressed in fine white linens with a rust coloured plain strewn across its foot. Either side are bedside tables with reading lamps and an alarm clock while a long writing desk with its ergonomic chair has a telephone, keyboard and mutli-plug outlets. There is a censored minibar within the desk which is locked unless you request otherwise as well as a green tea machine on an occasional table by the seating corner. Other amenities in the room include a flatscreen television, iron and ironing board, safe, umbrella, shoe kit and robe and slippers. You'll notice too that the rooms are perfectly quiet thanks to soundproof windows with a special winding opening and closing system. The bathrooms pretty much entirely fitted out in marble, have large mirrors, bathtub/shower combination, Gilchrist and Soames toiletries, hairdryer and heated towel rack with custom towels. Larger guestrooms are available offering more living space as well as extra beds and furniture.
There are various types of suite available at The Kitano, the smallest of which is the junior suite, which offers a superior living space as well as separate bathtub and shower in the bathroom and views of Park Avenue. In a separate townhouse are accommodated three unique suites which are more like apartments with the split level bedroom and salon separated by a corridor. The latter has a music system, book collection and pieces of art by New York based artists. Several executive suites boast Manhattan views along with jacuzzi tubs, Japanese bidets, dining tables and of course generous living spaces.
But the jewel in the accommodation crown at The Kitano is the Tatami suite, located on the 17th floor of the hotel and which boasts not only a dining room, but also a traditional Japanese tea ceremony room in the centuries-old architectural style sukiya-zukuri. The décor in the room also includes traditional tatami mats and painted shojiscreens.
As you walk into the orderly, symmetrical lobby of The Kitano, the first thing that strikes you is the Y-shaped staircase at the back of the hall, leading up to the mezzanine level. At the very centre of the lobby is a square seating area composed of armchairs and sofas in the middle of which is a coffee table. At the corner of the quad are identical occasional tables and lamps while behind is a Botero original entitled 'Dog' (one of many pieces of art and photography around the hotel). In front is a table featuring a vase of flowers which have been arranged by the hotel's florist according to the sogetsu school of ikebana, or Japanese flower arranging. The sides of the lobby are remarkable for their grid like formation with wood panelling covering the columns and mezzanine floor edge. Through the right side of this grid is the reception desk manned by the politest of staff, while over to the other side is the concierge desk and lift bank where you'll notice the beautifully embossed doors. In one corner of the hall is a boutique (quite uncommon in New York hotels) selling various items of jewellery, fashion accessories, leather goods, souvenirs, postcards and the like.
For the moment, the hotel does not have a fitness or wellness centre, but this possibility is being looked into. For those travelling on business or for those who are travelling without a laptop, there is a full service business centre for use at the hotel, although this is charged at $8 per 15 minutes. There is a wifi service throughout the property which is charged at $9.95 per day.
All public areas of the hotel are kept immaculately and the corridors on each floor are wide, bright and easily negotiable and have some interesting black and white shots of the city.
The hotel is lucky enough to have one of New York's premier Japanese restaurants, in the form of Hakubai (which means white plum), in its basement at the foot of what they call the 50 steps to Japan. Specialising in the multi-course kaiseki cuisine with roots in Zen Buddhism and which is supposed to awaken the five senses, the restaurant boasts traditional Japanese décor using bamboo, tatami, shoji screens and ikebana. It is open for lunch and dinner and attracts many a non-resident thanks to its exquisite dishes served on hand crafted and painted crockery from Japan (on which the hotel spent a staggering half a million dollars!). The waitresses at Hakubai are all dressed in traditional kimonos while soothing music and birdsong are piped into the space to help give the perfect atmosphere for enjoying the food. And believe us when we say that the food here is outstanding, just like the service and presentation - it was a real pleasure to dine in such a relaxed ambiance.
Since our visit to The Kitano, the Garden Café and has been completely renovated and will replace the now closed Bar Lounge on the mezzanine level as the hotel's world-class jazz venue. Called simply JAZZ at KITANO, the space, with its 30ft ceilings, mahogany walls and contemporary art, not only welcomes the same legendary acts as before, but also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as cocktails. A brunch is offered on Sundays and sushi is available every night of the week. Note that there is a cover charge of $10-$25 on Wednesday to Saturday nights and a minimum $15 drink charge.
The hotel is housed in a 19th century building which was once owned by the Rockefellers and had the name Murray Hill Hotel. In 1973 the Kitano Group bought the property and named it the Kitano Hotel before changing its name to The Kitano New York in 1995. The Japanese group is headed up by Tsuguto Kitano, a construction magnate with hotel and resort interests in Australia, the Solomon Islands, Western Samoa and Vietnam as well as in his native Japan.
The very first Kimpton hotel to see the light of day in New York, 70 Park Avenue is a smart hotel with a great location which has recently been renovated to bring it (almost) up to date. Its rooms, which have recently been partly renovated, are still not quite as impressive or as spacious as those in its sister properties, but they are nicely appointed and want for nothing. The restaurant and bar provide an added pull to a property which is largely patronised by a business clientele, although there is no reason, unless you are looking for something particularly trendy/luxurious, not to consider 70 Park Avenue as a tourist.
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 smarter, more luxurious sister hotel to The Court just next door, The Tuscany, which went through a multi-million dollar renovation throughout 2012, is a breath of fresh air in the crowded New York hotel game. The spacious rooms are appointed to an exceptionally high standard with quality materials and are not so contemporary that they are about to go out of fashion. The public spaces are equally aesthetically pleasing with some great examples of art and design. The breakfast room in the lobby should now be in operation as should an all-day snacking menu (though no true lunch and dinner services). The top-of-the-range fitness room, the good location and the amiable staff make of The Tuscany and great mid-range option for couples and families.
The more modest of the two St. Giles properties in New York, The Court is nevertheless a good, solid mid-range hotel in the Murray Hill neighbourhood of Manhattan. While not a full service hotel, it does have the advantage of a tasteful, non-offensive décor, very spacious guestrooms and a bar and breakfast room. Its location, close to many of the city's top attractions, is a further reason for you to consider The Court for your business or leisure stay - you are sure to be comfortable, especially if you opt for one of the nicely appointed suites.
Of all the Affinia hotels in New York, this is probably the most modern. It underwent a two-year renovation costing $25million and opened in June 209. Ok, it's not a super trendy design hotel, but it has a bit more colour and than the rest and in many ways better features. The hotel could suit any type of traveller such is the range of rooms and their sizes. With a decent location, a touch of originality and a friendly staff, this is not to be overlooked if you are looking for a good value option in Manhattan.
While the Dylan undeniably has a great central Manhattan location, spacious rooms and an interesting history, it's difficult to find that something special here that justifies its being chosen over another hotel in the area at a similar price point. It has modest facilities and the décor and design, while tasteful and inoffensive, is somewhat uninspiring. The well regarded and popular steak house attached to the hotel, Benjamin, is one ace up its sleeve, as might be the impressive alchemy suite, but that's a heavy price to pay in our opinion for a hotel such as the Dylan. Suitable for all types of travellers in any number, we feel that you could get better value elsewhere.
Thrifty travellers have a new reason for cheer in New York with the opening of a new Pod hotel, this time Pod 39. Younger sister of the Pod 51 hotel between Second and Third Avenues, the 39 is very much in the same vain and offers very similar rooms at low prices. Just because the rates are cheap that does not mean that you lose style or amenities however. Yes, the rooms are on the small side, but they contain everything the modern young traveller could wish for. In addition, the hotel boasts a stunning rooftop bar and there are plans for a cool common area just like at the 51. A restaurant and a ground floor bar are also in the pipeline. Pod 39 is perfect for young couples and groups of friends who want to be in the heart of New York but who do not necessarily have a huge budget.
Q. What do you get when you take $150 million and put them into the hands of one of the world's greatest architect/designers? A. The Mark. Be under no illusions, what Jacques Grange and co have conceived in the leafy surroundings of the Upper Eastside is now the yardstick against which all other hotels will now have to measure themselves. After over two years under renovation with some of the most sought after names in the creative fields working on the project, The Mark has transformed itself from a decent hotel to a hotel of superlatives. Everything is top draw from the design to the staff, from the food to the wellness centre. This all, of course, comes with the price tag that its quality demands, however rest assured that no other hotel can come close to what The Mark has to offer.
We're going to stick our necks out here and say that of all the hotels we have stayed at in this city, the Setai probably takes top spot. Of course there are many different types of hotel in the city and not everyone is looking for what the Setai has to offer, but as on overall experience, it can't, in our opinion, be bettered. The rooms are not only some of the biggest in the city, but they are likely to be the best appointed in terms of amenities too. The stunning, contemporary spa is as luxurious as it is spacious and in its restaurant the hotel has one of most memorable dining experiences to be had. But what impressed us most, and where the hotel rises above it competitors, is the consistent attention to detail and impeccable service the likes of which we've never seen. Although new (November 2010 opening), this is right up there with the old masters and the best thing is that it can only get better!
Let's not mince our words; The Peninsula is quite simply one of the finest hotels in New York, even more so now it is the other side of a renovation. From the very first moment you enter the hotel you'll have no doubt about the quality of experience that awaits you. There is very little to pick holes at here where excellence comes as standard: the large rooms are finely furnished, the restaurants of the highest caliber, the spa one of the most beautiful and complete in the city and the service faultless. Like all top class hotels this all comes at a certain price, however if there was ever one hotel which could justify the cost it would be this one.
We were quite simply blown away by this hotel. Rare are the occasions where there is nothing to fault, but staying here was one of those - it just couldn't put a foot wrong. Generously proportioned, impressively appointed rooms are complemented by a relaxed yet top class Italian restaurant, while the spa is a sight to behold. You'll have a tough job finding a property where the service is paralleled and don't even get us started on the views! A magnificent, modern and memorable hotel, we recommend the Trump Soho to all kinds of traveller, newcomers or old hands, couples or families. A huge thumbs up.
This mythical New York hotel has seen its fair share of changes, both within in its walls and outside, however one thing remains constant: The Carlyle is one of the swankiest, smartest, seductive hotels in the city. The very few flaws of the hotel (for example the size of some bathrooms) can be excused by its age; otherwise there are very few hotels of this genre which can claim to offer a similar experience. Not only does it offer top notch service and facilities, but its location and commanding views are also something spectacular. Throw in a rich history, fine dining and exquisite décor and you get a hotel (literally) fit for kings. If you've got the cash, don't even ask yourself the question?
The Pierre has always been a landmark hotel in New York City?and we are glad to report that after its latest $100 million renovation following its takeover by Taj Hotels, it is still very much one of the hotels by which others must judge themselves. It is true to say that it may not have some of the facilities of some of the other top hotels (no spa, smaller rooms), but when it comes to service, style and sophistication, not to mention history, it is untouchable. With a location that would make most hotels weep with envy, fabulously appointed rooms with an Asian touch and a new, top quality restaurant, The Pierre is back on top of its game and ready to welcome once again all types of traveller, no matter their motive for visiting the city. All this comes, of course, at a price, but if you had to choose a place to spend your hard earned cash, this has got to be near the summit of your shortlist.
Although no longer associated with its Parisian namesake, the Plaza Athénée New York continues to offer one of the most refined hotel experiences in the city. Its style may not be as subtle as some of its competitors and thus some many find it a little overwhelming, but there is no getting away from the fact the hotel is a class act from top to bottom. It boasts capacious, well-appointed and recently renovated rooms (January 2010), a fine wellness centre, a celebrated restaurant and bar and an impeccable service from a smart, professional staff. If you're after that classic European opulence the other side of the Atlantic then the well-located Plaza Athénée is one to consider.
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.