Super-polished, 500-square-foot rooms with Italian marble bathrooms
Five- to 10-minute walk from Central Park
Free access to hot tub, steam room, and sauna
Limited nightlife nearby
Deliberately business-like, the 368-room Four Seasons in Midtown East has all the luxury essentials: elegant, cavernous lobby; beck-and-call service; a fine spa and fitness center; and some of the largest rooms in the city. Plus, guests can use spa facilities (whirlpool, sauna, and steam room) for free. But before booking, check the rates at the Waldorf-Astoria (more historic) or the Mandarin Oriental (better gym).
The modern, massive, conservative Four Seasons hosts martini-sipping dealmakers and well-heeled globetrotters who chat amongst themselves in the tall, resolutely tasteful lobby.
In terms of high-design pedigree, it's hard to ask for more. Legendary architect I.M. Pei -- the visionary behind the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, and the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. -- designed the public areas with 33-foot ceilings, rigorous symmetry, and a whole lot of limestone.
In hyper-dense, business-intensive Midtown East, open space comes at a high price, and the Four Seasons articulates its opulence primarily through the vaulted ceilings of its public areas. In their plain, gray openness, the public areas eschew both the traditional charm of the Waldorf-Astoria's chandeliers and the adventurous color of the Mandarin Oriental's Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.
It's this middle-of-the-road restraint that helps define the Four Seasons. The rooms feature expensive equipment but target comfort above adventurous design, and the overall goal appears to be putting business travelers at ease with tasteful features and plenty of breathing room and privacy.
For a caricature of the quintessential Four Seasons guest, look to Mr. Big from "Sex and the City," the mysterious love interest to main character Carrie Bradshaw. The HBO series makes it known that the Four Seasons is Mr. Big's hotel of choice. International business travelers hold court face-to-face or via smartphone on the lobby's velvet-cushioned sofas. It isn't strange to overhear conversations in French as well as Japanese during a single walk-through. Still, the massive, pillored lobby stays relatively quiet despite the frequent comings and goings of brisk-walking, well-tailored guests and the occasional family.
Sometimes a recognizable face appears; the likes of Jennifers Aniston and Lopez, as well as Beyonce, have been spotted here. The hotel doesn't provide a list of its famous guests, but suffice it to say that those aren't average Joes staying in the $50,000 Ty Warner Suite.
Located in Midtown East, Manhattan's safe -- if somewhat less happening -- business district.
Located on East 57th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues, the Four Seasons sits in the business-heavy Midtown East neighborhood, an area more popular for its high volume of iconic skyscrapers than its nightlife (which generally ends after happy hour). However, there are considerable dining highlights in the area, including steak restaurants like Maloney & Porcelli and Smith & Wollensky, or the upscale Mexican spot Dos Caminos.
Many major New York attractions are within walking distance -- the hotel is five to 10 minutes from Central Park and 10 to 15 minutes from the Museum of Modern Art -- but plan to hail a taxi or wear a good pair of sneakers if you want to catch a Broadway show or see the flashing ads of Times Square, about a 20-minute walk away.
In terms of subway transportation, four lines (the N, R W; the 4, 5, 6; the E; and the M) all sit within a five-block radius (a five- to 10-minute walk) from the hotel.
Designed for comfort and convenience, the massive rooms come with excellent beds, large work desks, plus king-size beds, and Florentine marble bathrooms.
Rooms are luxurious, without being adventurous. Cream-colored carpet, pale wood trimming, and ash-wood furniture don't get points for creativity, but there's comfort in the high-end home-office style. Plus, the rooms on higher floors take in substantial daylight from large windows -- no small feat in skyscraper-packed Midtown East.
Standard rooms start at an enormous 500 square feet, and Executive Suites start at 800 square feet
Spacious walk-in closets
Comfortable Italian marble bathrooms with Bulgari bath products and (in all rooms except Studios) the Four Seasons' signature deep soaking tubs
Large desks and workspaces
Eight-piece glassware set and a well-stocked minibar
55- to 65-inch flat-screen HD TVs with a full satellite package that includes non-English channels; a DVD player (the hotel also offers a lending library with both classic and children's DVDs)
Terrycloth robe and slippers
Ample dimmer switches
Each morning, guests can choose between the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Post, or USA Today for free delivery.
Small flat-screen TV in the bathroom
Ty Warner Trademarked Infinity beds, exclusive to the hotel; fine sheets; fluffy down pillows; down comforter with a duvet; hypoallergenic pillows available upon request
The spa and fitness center in the hotel's basement don't immediately stand out compared to those at other luxe Manhattan properties -- but guests get free access to the hot tub, sauna, and steam room in the spa. The business center is well equipped but keeps limited hours.
Spa facilities (not treatments) are free for guests; this includes use of the whirlpools, saunas, and vanity stations.
The on-site L.RAPHAEL Beauty Spa offers aromatherapy massages, firming facials, slimming body treatments, and nail care.
Excellent, 24-hour fitness center: free weights and weight machines; cardio machines with personal TVs and headphones; free fruit and fruit juice in the locker rooms' lounge areas; an attendant offers free bottled water
Personal trainer-led yoga and jogging workouts available for a fee
No pool, unlike at the Mandarin Oriental
The business center offers several above-the-bar services, including cell-phone and laptop rental, in addition to the usual internet access. The facilities can also accommodate high-volume copying and printing. When the center is closed, guests can still access it by contacting the concierge.
There are plenty of family-friendly amenities, and the Midtown East location is decent for kids, but the lobby and restaurant scene is decidedly grown up.
The Four Seasons' list of family-friendly features is extensive. Given advance warning, the hotel will provide a welcome package for very young guests, plus child-size bathrobes. The hotel also offers materials for childproofing rooms, as well as coloring books, rollaway beds, cribs, PlayStation game consoles, and a DVD lending library with titles for children. Babysitting services are available through the concierge with 48 hours' notice, but the hotel will also try to accommodate later requests.
That catalog of family-friendly services sets the Four Seasons ahead of most other New York hotels, including the Waldorf-Astoria and the Mandarin Oriental. However, prospective guests should note that on-site dining facilities and the overall air of the place caters much more to buttoned-down grown-ups than to energetic tykes.
The Garden is a popular power lunch spot by day and classy wine bar at night.
The Four Seasons offers high-priced fine-dining on its premises. The Garden offers gourmet American fare that's tasty but hard on the wallet, and the Four Seasons' room service comes from a separate, in-house kitchen. The Garden features four 20-foot African acacia trees in an airy, contemporary space, hence the name. The breakfasts, brunches, and lunches haven't changed much since the restaurant was known as 57: Expect eggs, pancakes, baked pastries, and organic yogurt parfaits for breakfast; gourmet beef burgers and grilled salmon for lunch.
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