The Gramercy Park Hotel currently sets the bar for New York cool -- hence the celebrities in the lounge and the paparazzi on the sidewalk. It offers ultra-luxe but small rooms done up in high Boho-chic style, a gorgeous gym, an acclaimed Italian trattoria, and a great rooftop bar. True, even guests sometimes feel excluded from the glamour-fest in the bar. But the place is utterly unique.
A choice hangout for the hip, beautiful, and famous, this totally unique hotel has three happening bar/lounges, handsome and luxurious rooms, and state-of-the-art business and fitness centers.
Was that Sting? "I'm good with faces," says an Australian shooting pool in the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel. "And that was Sting." That's all the confirmation I could get for my celebrity sighting -- staff at the hotel are forced to sign confidentiality agreements, so they're no help -- and it's so uncool to start asking questions anyway.
Even in a recession, people are clamoring to drink $18 cocktails and be part of this celebrity-studded scene. One would expect no less from Ian Schrager, the architect of culture who brought the world Studio 54 in the '70s and practically invented the hipster boutique hotel in the '80s and '90s.
The hotel itself was built in 1925 and is steeped in bohemian history. (Humphrey Bogart got married here and the bar was a favorite haunt for Babe Ruth.) In 2006, having recruited the artist and filmmakerJulian Schnabel as interior designer, Schrager reopened the Gramercy Park Hotel, offering a redesign heavy on velvet, old-world goods -- like the matador's jacket in the lobby -- and world-class art. (Warhols litter the top floor, and Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring pieces seem almost casually placed.) However, Schrager has since parted ways with the hotel.
But this place isn't just about the lounge scene; it takes its other responsibilities seriously as well. The rooms are luxurious, handsomely designed, and state-of-the-art. The business center has 24-hour secretarial staffing and enough equipment to support a modest business titan in a pinch. And the fitness center has new gear and dynamite views of Gramercy Park across the street.
All this comes at a very high price, of course. But for those looking to place themselves in the center of cool, the Gramercy Park Hotel is currently the place to stay in New York.
The main attraction on a quiet block in the upscale and largely residential Gramercy Park neighborhood; overlooks (and has access to) New York City's only private park.
The Gramercy Park Hotel sits on a quiet block of Lexington Avenue just before the street runs into private (meaning locked) and beautifully manicured Gramercy Park. Many of the hotel's rooms look out on Gramercy Park itself, which is easily the dominant feature of the neighborhood that is named after it. Only those who live on the park -- and hotel guests -- are allowed access, so it's lightly trafficked.
Gramercy Park (the neighborhood) is mostly high-end residential and generally lacking in popular tourist attractions. That said, it's a five-minute walk to Union Square, site of the city's premier farmers market and a major subway hub. A few minutes beyond that is Washington Square and all of Greenwich Village.
Cabs are pretty easy to flag down in front of the hotel, and doormen are happy to help flag them. Park Avenue, which has more shops and services, is one block west. Third Avenue, one block east, has lots of bars and restaurants and more nightlife.
At night, a small herd of paparazzi gather outside the Gramercy Park Hotel waiting for the glitterati to make an entrance to the Rose Room. But during the day the block is quiet.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. (More information on the shuttles can be found here and here.) Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and can involve a lot of lugging bags up and down subway stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Heavy on the velvet, handsomely designed, and extraordinarily comfortable.
Handsome. Old-world. Bohemian-chic. These are all words that come to mind to describe the rooms at the Gramercy. Rooms are all unique and have handmade imported rugs, views of Gramercy Park or the city, oak floors, mahogany furniture, and customized fixtures.
Bathrooms are quite unique, too. The vanity area is open to the bedroom but can be closed off by French doors. The toilet and shower/tub each have their own walled-off areas. A window and a tiled seat in the shower, and the giant soaking tub, are particularly nice touches.
Nothing specifically kid-centric, but private, picturesque Gramercy Park is a great place to run around with a toddler. Nearby playgrounds, babysitting services, and free cribs and rollaways make the property a fine family choice.
An excellent choice for parents with big budgets and a desire to make the scene while the kids are safely sleeping upstairs. Double rooms are available and some rooms, like the deluxe loft, have pull-out couches. Cribs and rollaways are free upon request and will fit into most standard rooms. Child-appropriate DVDs are available at the front desk. And one mother I spoke with said the hotel booked a really wonderful babysitter whom she planned to use again the next night.
Plus, how often will your kid get an opportunity to run around in a "private" park?
A clean, well-outfitted gym with great views of the park; an attached spa; an unusually well-equipped (and staffed) business center; and three excellent bar/lounges.
Clean, up-to-date gym features cardio machines (with great views of the park), new free weights, a punching bag, free mini-bottles of Poland Spring water, and plenty of towels. Personal trainers are available by appointment.
In-room services available
Business center is unusually well equipped (and staffed) with a 24-hour, multilingual secretarial staff, video-conferencing, audiovisual equipment, and conference facilities for up to 50 people
Photographers and Videographers: No in-house photographer required, but hotel can recommend outside vendors at several different price points; no fee for outside vendors
Music: No live bands allowed; the hotel can recommend DJs at several different price points.
Food: You can choose between a cocktail reception with passed hors d'oeuvres and three-course plated dinner and/or buffet stations (must call for pricing). Kids', kosher, vegetarian, and gluten-free menus available on request.
Spa Treatments: There's no in-house spa or salon, so you'll have to schedule an appointment elsewhere.
Honeymoon Suite: Many honeymooning couples opt for one of the hotel's six suites.
Airport Transportation: None provided
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