Attractive and historic city landmark drawing a VIP crowd
In the middle of Midtown, walking distance to major sights
Wide variety of rooms from studios to three-bedroom units
Several units have kitchens/kitchenettes and outdoor space
American Cut steakhouse on site offers a chic spot for dinner
Free breakfast buffet and a retro coffee shop on the ground floor
Well-equipped fitness center open 24 hours
Independently owned hair salon offering guest discounts
Concierge, daily housekeeping, and turndown service on offer
Public computer and printer on hand, plus free Wi-Fi throughout
Style and size can vary quite widely from room to room
Specific rooms can be requested, but there's no guarantee
Despite double-paned windows, some street noise can be heard
No lunch service on site (though plenty of restaurants nearby)
The regal, upper-middle-range Lombardy Hotel possesses a storied history and an enviable location right in the swirling center of Midtown, walking distance to attractions like Rockefeller Center. All of its 190 rooms are privately owned and as such they vary greatly in size and in style, from crisp modern to elegant traditional. Amenities can also vary, with some units offering kitchenettes, full kitchens, half baths, or even outdoor space (a rarity in NYC). Most guests appreciate the home-away-from-home vibe of these units and their personal style, but the fact remains that travelers could hope to stay in a sleek studio and find themselves surrounded by wallpaper and brocade. On-site features include a tony steakhouse, a coffee shop, and a 24-hour gym, adding to the Lombardy's appeal. Those looking for more uniform design in a similar location could consider the Grand Hyatt New York.
An iconic and elegant NYC building housing guests and residents alike
From the street level, the Lombardy Hotel makes a galant first impression. Planters with bright green topiaries frame the arched entryway, which is also embellished with intricate botanical carvings. Just beyond that, a doorman tugs open its brass doors ushering guests into a petite lobby set with two marble-fronted desks and topped with a circular chandelier. The atmosphere here feels far more like an apartment building than a hotel, which is entirely accurate. Units here are privately owned, so they are often used as a residence if they're not being rented out. About eight to ten percent of the owners live in the Lombardy year around. The property also attracts several long-term guests, adding to a feeling of permanence, which is fitting, as the Lombardy has had a long and colorful history as a fixture on the New York City landscape.
Back in the 1920s, William Randolph Hearst had the Lombardy built to house his mistress, the Hollywood star Marion Davies. Since then, a lingering atmosphere of old money and Hollywood glitz have remained: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton made the Lombardy their New York love nest, and on our visit a hush-hush VIP was staying in the penthouse.
Repeat guests are common, with plenty of friendly banter between them and staff. The Lombardy's clientele do tend to skew older, and the staff tend to be very accommodating to any elderly guests with special needs, such as confirming that their room has a walk-in shower (versus a bathtub) or helping them log into the public computer. But multi-bedroom units also attract families, and the general privacy of the property and its apartment units has broad appeal for a range of travelers.
In the thick of Midtown, walking distance to Fifth Avenue shops and MoMA
The Lombardy is set in the thick of Midtown Manhattan, on 56th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues on the East Side. It's a block surrounded by other towering buildings with banks, delis, and lunch spots lining their ground floors. During any given weekday, the bustle on the street from office workers, lunchtime shoppers, and bike messengers whizzing by can feel a bit hectic, but things quiet down in the evening and even more so on the weekends. The famed shopping of NYC's Fifth Avenue, with the Tiffany & Co. flagship and the Bergdorf Goodman department store, is a short five-minute walk away. The Plaza Hotel and Central Park can also be reached in a 10-minute stroll, too. In terms of cultural institutions, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Carnegie Hall can be reached in 10- and 15-minute walks, respectively. The Rockefeller Center complex, holding the Top of the Rock observation deck and Radio City Music hall takes 13 minutes to reach on foot. Other sites require a taxi ride or a trip on the subway. Thankfully, the Lombardy has a pair of subway stops within a six-minute walk. A 14-minute subway ride can land travelers at Times Square, and a 25- to 30-minute ride can take travelers to the downtown neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and SoHo. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) can be reached in 50 minutes by public transportation or 57 minutes by car or taxi.
A broad range of sizes and styles, some with outdoor spaces and incredible views
Because all of the Lombardy Hotel's guest rooms are privately owned, their size and style vary quite widely. Rooms range in category from standard rooms and studios all the way up to three-bedroom suites and the top-tier penthouse. But all guest rooms are generously sized, particularly by New York City standards. There are no adjoining rooms, but groups and families can book units at either end of the floors that are capped with little foyers that can be closed off, allowing the rooms to remain open to each other but still sealed off from the rest of the floor.
As is typical for a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan, views can be a bit limited on lower floors, sometimes overlooking a courtyard or the next-door buildings. Higher floors get treated to vistas that stretch out a full avenue block over towards the West Side or Uptown. Street-facing windows are double-paned, but unfortunately the location, in the heart of the city, means that loud urban noises of traffic, construction, and sirens can leak into rooms. (Light sleepers should consider courtyard-facing rooms, although they'll be sacrificing views.) One of the loveliest features are the outdoor spaces offered in some -- but not all -- units. A few studio units have brick terraces outfitted with patio furniture, and larger units can have even bigger outdoor spaces looking over the urban cityscape.
Fifteen studios have kitchenettes, and standard and studio units can come equipped with two-top burners. Larger units usually have full kitchens complete with full-sized fridges and ovens, although these also vary as some are open-plan and others are tucked away in their own room.
As units are individually owned and decorated, decor swings dramatically from one end of the style spectrum to the other. Some units represent a traditional take on elegance, with leather tub chairs, brocade bedspreads, and marble pedestal tables. Others lean toward an ultra-modern look with chrome-and-glass desks and abstract art. Repeat guests have been known to make requests for their favorite rooms, but there's always a chance that sleek studio they requested will be booked and they'll find themselves in one covered in busy chinoiserie wallpaper. But most guests appreciate the individual style and home-away-from-home feeling reflected here.
Style in the bathrooms varies just as widely. Some are simple white-tiled affairs; others have mirrored walls and slabs of black marble; and one we visited even had an Egyptian theme. Fixtures are also individual: Some bathrooms have large soaking tubs with brass fixtures others have showers with rainfall showerheads or basic shower/tub combos. A few higher-category rooms also offer half baths, generally just off the living room space. Throughout, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries are provided.
Closets are stocked with robes, slippers, safes, and irons and ironing boards. Daily housekeeping and turndown service are standard, and Wi-Fi is free. Most rooms have one or two flat-screen TVs, but a handful have older tube models. And other amenities are inconsistent. For example, one of the studios we toured lacked a kitchenette but was equipped with a toaster. Still, guests can always request certain amenities with the front desk that they find lacking.
The very highest room category is the penthouse, covering two floors and 2,300 square feet. But even the three-bedroom units can feel positively palatial. One we visited was adorned with vintage wine ads and quatrefoil mirrors. Rose-colored granite countertops, a fireplace, and armchairs trimmed with piping added another level of polish. Bedrooms had their own bathrooms, and the separate office provided a quiet refuge. The extended terrace here offered space for entertaining or even, potentially, a family gathering.
A chic steakhouse, an on-site coffee shop, and a 24-hour gym
For being an urban hotel with a residential focus, the Lombardy does offer several hotel features that could rival any major chain, starting with its restaurant. The ground floor holds the American Cut steakhouse, a dark and moody space with black leather banquettes and art deco-inspired light fixtures. It's here the hotel's free breakfast buffet is set out, which makes for a stylish, if slightly somber breakfast room. The restaurant is closed at lunch, but it opens back up in the evenings, starting with a buzzy bar scene during post-work hours and continuing with dinner service into the night. To the other side of the building sits Ninth Street Espresso, an independently owned coffee shop with a certain 1950s flair thanks to its checkerboard floors. There's limited stool seating here, but that doesn't stop guests from coming down to enjoy cup after cup of strong java.
A basement fitness center, open 24 hours, is stocked with all the expected exercise equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, weight-lifting machines, free weights, balance balls, and a pair of flat-screen TVs providing diversion. This lower level is also where guests will find an independently owned hair salon. Guests receive a discount to services.
Just to the side of the front desk sits two public computers and a printer, and guests have free access to both. Concierge service is also on hand in the lobby, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout. A key-card operated elevator adds to the safety of this hotel.