- Generic, beige-intensive room decor
- Limited nightlife nearby
- No pool
- Subterranean fitness center
- Fee for Wi-Fi
The modern, massive, conservative Four Seasons hosts martini-sipping dealmakers and well-heeled globetrotters who chat amongst themselves in the tall but resolutely gray and rectangular lobby.
In terms of high-design pedigree, it's hard to ask for more. The squad behind the Four Seasons' look reads like a laundry list of visionaries. I.M. Pei -- the legendary architect 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. The lobby and guest rooms owe their look to Remedios Siembieda, the designers behind interiors at high-end hotels from Hong Kong to Munich to Bora Bora. Prolific high-end designer Pierre-Yves Rochon laid out the swank accents in on-site dining areas Ty Lounge, and The Bar at the Four Seasons. The space is beautiful -- so beautiful, in fact, that the Four Seasons website kindly invites guests to download its marketing photos "to use as your computer's desktop background."
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. An on-site art gallery supplements tony multi-media pieces with a bi-weekly featured collection. 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 Sex and the City and Mr. Big, the mysterious Gatsbyesque love interest to main character Carrie Bradshaw. The HBO series makes it known that the Four Seasons is Mr. Big's hotel of choice -- just watch the Season 6 episode "The Domino Effect." 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 $18,000-a-night Presidential Penthouse or the $35,000 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 worth visiting 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.
Rooms are luxurious, without being adventurous. Gold-tinted carpet, pale wooden trimming, and muted brown furniture don't get points for creativity, but there's comfort in the home-office style. Plus, the rooms on higher floors take in substantial daylight from large windows -- no small feat in skyscraper-riddled Midtown East -- and in my Moderate room (No. 3308), one of the windows even featured a leather-cushioned nook.
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.
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 fare that's tasty but hard on the wallet, and the Four Seasons' room service comes from a separate, in-house kitchen.
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