Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
European decor and traditional, attentive service in a tony 250-room building in Manhattan's mostly residential Upper West Side.
Fronting the ornate red-stone building that towers over its immediate neighbors in Manhattan's Upper West Side, the 250-room Lucerne's entrance is often manned by two alert doormen and has an aura of quiet power. Inside, the hotel feels warm and secure, with its hibiscus flowers, red and gold Oriental-looking patterns, and quiet '80s pop songs like "Reminiscing" by Little River Band and Patti LaBelle's "On My Own," and "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin, from the "Top Gun" soundtrack.
The Lucerne takes its name from an alpine city in Switzerland -- though there isn't much of a Swiss vibe at the hotel, and the hotel is operated by the Empire Hotel Group, which manages a series of other mid-range New York hotels. The name speaks, vaguely, to a more traditional, European aesthetic, exemplified by the tapestries flanking the entrance and the lobby's intricately patterned upholstery.
More than 30 blocks from Times Square, the Lucerne trades midtown chaos for a quieter atmosphere, and proximity to Central Park and great family museums. But there are fewer subway lines on the Upper West Side than there are in Midtown West.
The corner of West 79th Street and Amsterdam is at the slow-beating heart of the Upper West Side, an area comprised mostly of apartment buildings that could, with their doormen and front desks, be confused for luxury hotels. But excellent restaurants like Ouest are still close by, and there's still a fair smattering of night life, with popular local bars close by like Dive 75 and the Boat Basin, which features an enormous stone patio overlooking the Hudson river.
Plus, several of New York's vaunted museums are immediately accessible. The American Museum of Natural History is one block east, and the Children's Museum of Manhattan sits four blocks north of the Lucerne. A 20-minute walk through Central Park lands visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Subway access around the city is more limited here than in Midtown West over 30 blocks south. There's only a 1-line subway station at the end of the block on Broadway, and the B and C trains run at 81st Street and Columbus, about a 10-minute walk away.
The Lucerne has valet parking and self-parking for daily fees.
Rooms at the Lucerne take a traditional approach to opulence -- carved wood desks, heavy Persian-patterned drapes held open by tasseled ropes, and lightly gold-inflected wallpaper that creates a warm, welcoming mood. The resulting old-world, neoclassical vibe contrasts with that of rooms in more modern UWS hotels like On the Ave and Hotel Beacon. All rooms were renovated in April 2009.
The standard rooms are smaller here than at most New York hotels, and are really only designed for two people who can share a bed. But there are several double rooms available, and the Deluxe rooms offer considerably more space. The rooms are generally insulated from noise from other guests or street traffic. The hotel also provides cribs upon request, and babysitting services are available through the concierge.
As New York hotels go, the Lucerne is slightly more family-friendly -- in large part because of its Upper West Side location. New York's most family-friendly museums, like the the Museum of Natural History and the Children's Museum of Manhattan are just a short walk away.
Just short of spotless.
In the room, the carpets, desk, and other furnishings were free of spots, stains, and dust. The bathroom was near-spotless, save for a barely noticeable rust stain on the tub. The lobby, hallways, fitness center, and business center are all maintained at a very high standard of cleanliness.
Far from the Times Square crowds, on the relaxed, upscale Upper West Side, the 250-room Lucerne offers small but classically styled, comfortable rooms (all renovated in 2009), prompt, dedicated service, and proximity to great kid-friendly attractions like the Museum of Natural History and Central Park.