The Park Lane is an aging luxury hotel living off of its past prestige and Central Park location. On the positive side, the common spaces are still grand, if a little old-fashioned, the restaurant has huge arched windows overlooking the park, and some rooms have gorgeous park views. But rates are high for what you get. Rooms have classic style that's a bit generic and are showing wear and tear; the bathrooms are similarly unexceptional. (We found an empty mini-fridge oddly placed under the bathroom sink.) Harry's New York Bar (named for real estate developer Harry Helmsley) has a dark, clubby ambiance, but cocktails are incredibly expensive, even for New York. Elevator waits can be very long, and the service feels unpolished for a hotel in this price range.
The Park Lane Hotel is right across the street from Central Park and half a block away from Fifth Avenue. It's an excellent base for exploring the shopping along Fifth Avenue -- from the famous Tiffany & Co. to high-end flagships like Gucci and Versace. To the right on Fifth Avenue lies luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, and across the avenue, past the famous Pulitzer Fountain, sits the splashy Midtown Apple flagship. Plenty of delis and Starbucks cafes feed the cubicle occupants -- Midtown East is where many New Yorkers come to work. Nightlife is scarce, but excellent, typically pricy, cuisine is always within walking distance.
The area lacks the residential quaintness of the Upper West Side, and most insider haunts are found further downtown. But subway access is ample, making it easy to venture anywhere in the city. It's also a fairly safe neighborhood, although it empties out at night.