It is said that nothing on Earth can achieve a state of perpetual motion. But I sometimes wonder if New York doesn’t disprove the assertion. Each time I return, the city has always changed, grown and evolved. In the past year it received almost 60 million visitors, and Broadway enjoyed its best season ever in 2015-2016 with grosses of $1.3 billion and audiences of 13.3 million. And then there is the constant physical change. Despite the center of the city being a relatively small island of just 22 square miles, the rate of development has soared. Downtown, work continues at the World Trade Center, while on the West Side a former rail yard is being transformed into the largest private real estate project in the United States and the biggest in New York since Rockefeller Center was built in the 1930s.
Called Hudson Yards, it will encompass 4,000 residences, 100 shops, 14 acres of open space and a number of major corporate headquarters — Coach and L’Oreal USA have already moved in, and Time Warner, CNN, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. and financial giant BlackRock will be joining them. Helping to spur this development was the extension of the 7 Flushing subway line. Elsewhere, the Second Avenue subway, a dream project since the 1920s, saw the debut of the first section, covering from 96th to 63rd Street.
With the surge of visitors have come new additions to the ranks of high-end hotels and restaurants. Thanks to a choice location on East 57th Street and stunning architecture by I.M. Pei, the Four Seasons Hotel New York has long been a favorite with Harper subscribers. Now, the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown has opened on Barclay Street at the border of Tribeca and the Financial District, taking up the first 24 floors of an 82-story tower designed by noted architect Robert A. M. Stern. The 189 rooms and suites range in size from 400 to 2,400 square feet. Especially appealing are the Gotham Suites with Terrace, with their own outdoor spaces and fabulous downtown views.
The two-story lobby, with its travertine marble flooring and suspended staircase, sets the stylish tone for the other areas in the hotel. Those committed to their exercise regimes will be able to pursue their goals in the 6,000-square-foot fitness center. And for water sprites, there is a 75-foot lap pool. The spa will feature the skincare products of Switzerland’s Dr Burgener — here making their U.S. debut — and exclusive facial treatments by Hungary’s Omorovicza. Star chef Wolfgang Puck brings steakhouse CUT to the hotel, with highlights of the menu including choice cuts of wagyu beef. The hotel offers a full complement of business services as well as a dedicated business center. And the tower also houses 157 Four Seasons Private Residences, from one to five bedrooms with complete access to all the hotel’s facilities.
Over the years, London-based Firmdale Hotels has captivated me with its collection of imaginative properties. Distinctive design, the work of co-owner Kit Kemp, gives each hotel its unique personality. In 2009, when the company opened its first overseas venture, the 86-room Crosby Street Hotel in New York’s SoHo, I was impressed anew.
This established favorite of many Harper subscribers will be shortly joined by a sibling. With 86 rooms and suites (some with terraces and many with floor-to-ceiling windows), The Whitby Hotel will be located on West 56th Street, just off of Fifth Avenue. Adding to its appeal will be a guest courtyard and a private screening room.
Although Thompson Hotels enjoys a good reputation, I have yet to find one of its properties to recommend Hideaway Report readers. However, recently opened The Beekman has certainly caught my eye. A block from City Hall and a five-minute stroll to the World Trade Center, the 287-room property is situated on a relatively quiet side street in what is otherwise a bustling area of downtown.
When the building opened in the 1880s, the soaring nine-story atrium was a sensation. Topped with a pyramidal skylight, this dramatic feature now provides a light-washed focal point for the hotel. Martin Brudnizki, the British architect who designed London’s famed The Ivy and Le Caprice restaurants, directed the interior work. Striking details abound, including the mosaic floors in the lobby, original leaded-glass windows and glowing wood paneling.
Rooms offer high ceilings, large windows, custom-made armoires and an eclectic mix of modern art, plus spacious marble baths. The hotel’s two restaurants — one under the direction of star chef Tom Colicchio, the other by restaurateur Keith McNally of Balthazar and Minetta Tavern fame — have achieved instant popularity and acclaim.