NOBODY needs an excuse to go to New York; the Big Apple is one of the few cities in the world to match London for sheer breadth of sights to see, entertainment to sample and scenes to explore.
But the opening of a sprinkling of new high-class hotels that demand to be visited is as good a motivation as any. From the bijou Crosby Street Hotel, sister branch of some of this town’s most distinguished establishments, to its seductive Soho neighbour the Mondrian, to the debonair business traveller’s dream pied-a-terre, the Hyatt 48 Lex, the standard is exemplary.
It would be extremely difficult to do anything but revel in their indulgent surrounds; harder still, however, is choosing between them.
Quirky, sexy and, above all, cool are the watchwords at this achingly hip 12th outpost of the Morgans Hotel Group, which also boasts London’s St Martin’s Lane and Sanderson hotels.
It drips with rock ‘n’ roll, too. Scenester band The Kills (featuring Mr Kate Moss, Jamie Hince) played at last year’s grand opening and it’s easy to imagine The Strokes, New York’s finest, crashing here after a debauched night in the Lower East Side.
The 270 rooms aren’t the biggest, but are immaculately styled in white and electric blue, invite you to gaze out across the rooftops of Soho from their floor-to-ceiling windows and the blissful king size beds would tempt even the wildest of hellraisers to call it a night.
Décor in some rooms does flirt with the sparse, with cool floors, white wooden wardrobes and an ultra-compact bathroom with shower only, but what it lacks in soft furnishings it more than makes up for in sophisticated touches and risque attitude.
Every room has its own iPad, the bedside stereo has the obligatory iPod dock, the mirror is tinted deep blue, the minibar is stocked with bottles of Grey Goose and the in-room ‘merchandise’ on offer includes a video camera for hire, a ouija board and a sex toy pack. Not that there’s shortage of entertainment nearby; the Mondrian is on one of Soho’s quieter streets, but just yards from Spring Street and the chic stores, eateries and drinking dens of Broadway and Greenwich Village.
Most alluring of all is the hotel’s wonderfully romantic entrance, an ivy-covered tunnel adorned with candles and lanterns which leads into a fairytale-flavoured lobby, where louche, efficient staff await. A seafood restaurant and long bar are housed in an airy, chandelier and glass-sculpture bedecked greenhouse, where sumptuous breakfasts were easier to come by than late-night drinks.
The Mondrian mixes cutting-edge fashion with the trappings of executive comfort and its insouciant glamour is perhaps better suited to pleasure than business. But if that’s your Miu Miu bag, you can’t do much better than this.
From $289 per night. mondriansoho.com
CROSBY STREET HOTEL
It would be easy for a hotel this stylish, this meticulously attractive, to consider old-fashioned qualities such as good service and attention to detail secondary, but the Crosby Street has concocted the perfect blend.
From the handsome, grand exterior, with its warehouse-style windows which afford widescreen vistas across the Soho skyline, to the uber-elegant interior designed by co-owner Kit Kemp, this is a very good looking spot indeed to lay your head.
The first American branch of the Firmdale Hotels family, those who have been fortunate enough to visit one of their six London offerings, including the flagship Soho Hotel, will recognise the quirky-yet-cosy aesthetic.
Each of the 86 rooms and suites is individually decorated – mine was decked almost solely in black, white or combinations of the two – a policy which, in less accomplished hands, could veer towards the gimmicky.
Yet this is anything but; mixing up the fabrics and patterns laces the coherence with variety, while one-offs such as dressing tables in matching colours showcased a magpie's touch to the monochrome masterpiece. Creativity abounds throughout the building, from the painting-smattered drawing room, to the modern-art peppered lobby (which features a giant head composed of words), to the restaurant and bar, which has a similarly edgy outdoor space.
Ah, the bar, which merits special mention for, I believe, the best cocktail I've had in my life. The #5, which resides on a menu alongside signature drinks from the group's other hotels, was a symphony of Makers Mark, Black Seal, sugar, lemon and Combier.
It's worth a visit even if you're not staying here, but you'd need good reason not to. Because while the Crosby Street looks spectacular and exclusive, it is welcoming; never snobbish. And that is as much down to its flawless service as its plush comfort.
They've thought of everything – and then some: scented pillow spray; cushions (matching, natch) in the windowsills for drinking in the view; even a television embedded in the bathroom wall for watching while you soak.
It's like borrowing an apartment belonging to the coolest couple in town, plonked in one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods. You just won't want to hand back the keys. From $525 per night, www.firmdale.com
HYATT 48 LEX
A nugget of quintessential Midtown sophistication, the Hyatt 48 Lex is the last word in swanky, modern, luxury accommodation set amidst the skyscrapers that define Manhattan.
Everything is executed with impeccable, understated taste, from the gleaming façade built into a corner of a block to the naturally-illuminated first-floor lounge area and the exhaustively-equipped rooms and suites.
The best feature, however, is without doubt the jaw-dropping views of Lexington Avenue afforded by the corner residences. Nothing inspires big city thrills quite like drinking in the bustle of yellow cabs and New York grandeur from a dozen-or-so floors above the hubbub.
Integral to this perk is the hotel’s enviable location, walking distance from landmarks such as the Rockefeller Centre, the Empire State Building and the destination shopping of Bloomingdales.
Times Square, Central Park and some of the planet’s finest museums are also a short ride away, making the Hyatt 48 Lex hard to beat for sightseeing – even from the comfort of its enticing environs.
With just 116 rooms, it’s a far cry from the sprawling enormo-hotels in the vicinity - which adds a certain charm- and within there is certainly no sign of scrimping on space, with everything a discerning traveller would expect.
Rooms boast huge beds, bedside music systems with iPod docks, flatscreen televisions (two in suites, which also feature plush soft furnishings) and spotless, spacious and light bathrooms with vast walk-in showers.
An idiosyncratic array of art adds character, although a lack of free wi-fi seems unusual for a hotel that provides everything else so plentifully. Downstairs, the Lexington Brass restaurant and bar pulls in custom from beyond the hotel's clientele with a low-lit and distinctively American ambience, while you can work it all off again at the 24-hour gym, or indeed the round-the-clock business centre.
In this price-range, some carefree tourists may prefer a more individual destination, but for the businessman or woman who expects everything done perfectly – and with extravagant views to match – there can be fewer classier hotels.
From $94 per night. lexington.place.hyatt.com