Digital concierge, 24-hour room service, valet parking (fee)
Free standard Wi-Fi throughout
No on-site restaurant serving dinner
Rooms lack espresso machines, kettles, or iPod docks
No rainfall showerheads or double sinks; studios lack soaking tubs
Spa and gym are in the basement, and there's no pool
Fee for high-speed Wi-Fi in public spaces, Studios, and Junior Suites
The Midtown outpost of this four-and-a-half-pearl hotel remains a mainstay for travelers loyal to the brand, but it has some quirks and drawbacks that should be noted. A bold statement is made from the start, with grandiose interiors designed by I.M. Pei, yet beyond the marble-clad lobby, Four Seasons New York delivers an abbreviated version of a luxury hotel experience. Features check high-end boxes -- there's a bar with top-notch cocktails and 24-hour room service -- but the hotel lacks a dinner restaurant, the spa and small gym are in the basement, and there's no pool. Its 368 spacious guest rooms and suites are sophisticated and comfortably staid, with custom-made furniture, minibars, and bathrobes, though high-end amenities like espresso machines and iPod docks are missing. Travelers looking for a step up in features can try The St. Regis New York.
Martini-sipping dealmakers and well-heeled globetrotters gather in the swank lobby bar
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 -- designed the public areas of this 52-story tower, with a lobby that has 33-foot ceilings, rigorous symmetry, and a whole lot of limestone. It isn't ornate, but it's certainly grand and somewhat imposing, as ascending stairs to the reception desk feels like entering a high court and approaching the judge's bench.
Considering there's little to absorb sound, the space is fairly quiet, with a subdued buzz coming from the dramatically backlit Ty Bar and its sultry red lounge. Dealmakers and well-heeled guests seated in Mies Van der Rohe-inspired cantilever chairs huddle around low tables for hushed conversation. All the makings of a typical afternoon in monied Midtown New York are here, but a jarring -- and odd -- timed light display projected on a wall and a giant screen break the spell. Still, it's a sexy space and the cocktails are top-notch, though the hotel's scene begins and ends here.
Beyond reception, it's all commercial, with a high-end handbag boutique and display cases with luxury brand products. You may find yourself wondering why several are filled with an impressive collection of Beanie Babies, and here's your answer: They're the brainchild of the hotel's owner, Ty Warner.
On busy East 57th Street, close to restaurants, sights, and public transit
The Four Season New York is located on bustling East 57th Street, one of Manhattan's major east/west thoroughfares, between Park and Madison avenues. Other high-end hotels and luxury retailers share the block, with upscale bars and restaurants west of the hotel, and more reasonably priced spots along Lexington Avenue to the east. It's also just a little over a block away from Fifth Avenue's famous high-end shopping, such as the Bergdorf Goodman department store and Tiffany & Co.
The hotel is within walking distance of some top sights (Times Square is a bit of a hike), but despite its central Midtown address, most are best reached by cab or by public transit. Luckily, there are three subway stations within a 10-block radius, the closest of which is the Lexington Avenue/59th Street station (4, 5, 6, N, R, and W trains). There's also the 57th Street crosstown bus, which stops a half-block from the hotel on the corner of Madison Avenue, that's handy for getting over to the West Side.
Seven-minute walk to Central Park
10-minute walk to Museum of Modern Art
13-minute walk to Rockefeller Center
15-minute walk to Columbus Circle/Time Warner Center
20-minute walk to Times Square (13 minutes via public transit)
13 minutes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art via public transit
16 minutes to Union Square via public transit
24 minutes to Washington Square Park via public transit
25 minutes to 9/11 Memorial Museum/Ground Zero via public transit
27 minutes to Battery Park via public transit
29-minute drive to Laguardia International Airport (LGA)
60-minute drive to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Sophisticated and comfortable, but missing some high-end features
Decor is far from adventurous in guests rooms at Four Seasons New York. Visually speaking, they're a bit staid, with English Sycamore wood paneling throughout that smacks of the '90s. But occupying them reveals their understated elegance -- and considerable attention to details aimed at maximizing comfort.
Platform beds have rounded corners to prevent bruised shins, windows open and are cleverly mirrored to enhance sunshine and skyline views, plus there are motorized drapes and tray ceilings with soft lighting. Wool wall-to-wall carpeting and chic, custom-made cerused oak desks make spaces feel luxurious, and stylish accents like Dior and Chanel coffee table books and Andy Warhol prints add a smart dash of color to complete the look.
Amenities include 55- or 60-inch curved flat-screen TVs (Studios have 46-inch models), minibars stocked with products from local gourmet purveyors like Dean & Deluca, and laptop-size safes, but there are no iPod docks, espresso machines, or electric kettles. Studios and Junior Suites have free standard Wi-Fi for up to two devices, but high-speed access, which is standard in upgraded Suites, costs extra.
There are lovely dressing areas with roomy wardrobes, built-in dressers with lined drawers, posh vanities with lighted makeup mirrors, terrycloth robes, slippers, and hairdryers. Double doors open to bathrooms clad in Italian marble. All have walk-in showers, and, with the exception of Studios, separate soaking tubs, plus vanity-mounted mirror TVs and Bulgari bath products. While they're luxe, a few high-end details are missing: There are no double sinks -- an inconvenience or a perk, as there's more counter space -- or rainfall showerheads. Kid-friendly amenities like child-size bathrobes and free special toiletries are available upon request.
There are 300-square-foot Studios, Junior Suites (considered standard, with a total of 286 units) that are an average of 525 square feet, and One- and Two-Bedroom Suites that range from 700 to 1,000 square feet. Specialty Suites are 1,350 and up. Some upgraded units have Central Park-views and private balconies. The opulent Ty Warner Penthouse, with a 360-degree view of the city, is a whopping 4,300 square feet. Despite the hotel's Midtown location, rooms are exceptionally quiet.
Lobby bar, spa, and 24-hour gym, but dinner restaurant or pool
While Four Seasons New York is unquestionably a luxury hotel, features lack the extra oomph to make the property truly exceptional. The most notable drawback is that there's no dinner restaurant. The hotel's Michelin-starred L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon closed in 2012, and before the 2016 renovation, the lobby's restaurant was a buzzy wine bar in the evening.
Now, the Garden -- pricey compared to similar Midtown hotel restaurants -- serves breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch only, with health-driven menus featuring local purveyors and organic ingredients. Highlights of the breakfast lineup include frittata with broccoli, spinach, and asparagus, a smoked salmon egg sandwich, and a special Japanese breakfast. For lunch, entrees such as cauliflower steak with black walnut quinoa, and organic roast chicken with squash risotto are on offer. There's also a kids' menu, but expect to shell out somewhere in the ballpark of $20 for PB&J.
Across the lobby is Ty Bar, which serves up signature cocktails with names that give a nod to New York, like FS NYgroni and Strawberry Fields. There's also a small-plates menu that has some heartier options, such as prime sirloin sliders and spicy ahi tuna rolls, but it's mostly filled with lighter bites.
The spa and gym are located in the basement and feel a bit claustrophobic, with paneled ceilings and no natural light, but they're still attractive and offer the essentials. L.RAPHAEL spa has aromatherapy massages, firming facials, slimming body treatments, and nail care, and guests can use the whirlpool and saunas for free, but there's no pool. The 24-hour gym is small, but it's colorful and well-lighted, with a decent selection of Techogym equipment, free bottled water and fruit, and personal trainer-led yoga and jogging workouts are available for a fee.
Guests have 24-hour access to the business center, there's a digital concierge, and free newspapers. The hotel offers 24-hour room service (fee), and there's free early-morning coffee in the lobby. For those traveling with children, babysitting can be arranged for an extra charge with 48 hours notice, but there's no cost for loaner cribs, and kids receive a free welcome gift and coloring books upon arrival.
Other amenities include valet laundry service, twice-daily housekeeping, and evening turndown service, plus valet parking for an extra charge, airport transfer (fee), and one of the poshest extra perks -- free trips in the Rolls-Royce courtesy car within a 12-block radius of the hotel. Standard Wi-Fi is free in public spaces, but upgrading to high-speed access costs extra. Pets (with a maximum 20-pound weight limit) stay free, and a dog-walking service is available for an extra charge.
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