The Mandarin Oriental, New York is one of the most well thought out luxury hotels in Manhattan. It's discreetly located above Columbus Circle, on floors 35 through 54 of the Time Warner complex. It's no surprise that celebrities and socialites stay here when they want world class service, a 75-foot indoor lap pool, Asian-inspired healing spa with a tea lounge, and a modern fitness center. Asiate restaurant features sophisticated cuisine and floor-to-ceiling windows with Central Park views, while The Aviary NYC focuses on upscale cocktails. The 244 rooms feature subtly luxe decor and marble bathrooms with soaking tubs. The best views start at the 45th floor (though some Central Park vistas are partially obstructed by the neighboring Trump Tower). Shockingly, there's a daily charge for Wi-Fi. For something just as fashionable, but in a quieter location one block from Central Park, check rates at The Mark.
Occupying the top floors of the shimmering Time Warner Center tower, the Mandarin Oriental's take on luxury is distinctly modern and international
Sure, when one thinks of classic New York hotels, icons like The Plaza and The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York come to mind. But the Mandarin Oriental is a New York icon of a different sort. Built in December 2003, the Asian-inspired hotel towers 54 stories above Central Park and Columbus Circle. With a prime location, great views, and one of the best spas in the city, it's a strong contender in the category of modern classic. Among the city's most luxurious hotels, older isn't always wiser.
After entering on the ground floor, just around the corner from bustling Columbus Circle, both a city landmark and a transit hub, guests take an elevator up to the 35th-floor lobby. Once off the elevator, guests are greeted with a green tea at reception, a sleek circular space decorated with kimonos on the walls and elaborate avant garde floral displays. Adjacent to the reception area, is the ever popular The Aviary NYC, set in a sunken dining area. It's usually filled with business types, but look carefully, and you may see some celebrity faces. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook Columbus Circle below. In fact, most of the hotel makes excellent use of it's tower in the sky location, with large windows throughout -- even at the indoor pool.
The vast majority of guests here are posh couples and wealthy business travelers, but there are enough children visitors to warrant family hours at the pool. Kids are also catered to with kids' menus, babysitting services, and the whimsical Pocket Panda program.
Across Columbus Circle from Central Park, half a block from a major transportation hub, and very close to some of the city's top fine-dining options.
The Mandarin Oriental's location on Columbus Circle is across from Central Park and at the gateway to the upscale-but-relaxed Upper West Side. The hotel actually occupies the top floors of the Time Warner Center, a huge, two-tower complex that's also home to CNN, residential condos, and an upscale shopping mall on the lower levels, called The Shops at Columbus Circle. While the hotel's official address is 80 Columbus Circle, its main entrance is actually on 60th Street. Guests can access The Shops via a private entrance from the hotel's third floor, without stepping outdoors. The building has a Whole Foods Market in the basement, convenient for putting together a picnic in Central Park, across the street. There are also numerous high-end clothing and accessory boutiques; plus two of the city's best (and most expensive) restaurants: Thomas Keller's Per Se and Masayoshi Takayama's Masa.
Columbus Circle station is a major transit hub, with several subway lines running through it, making the entire city easy accessible by train. The Broadway theater district begins just six blocks south, about a 10-minute walk. The Museum of Modern Art is about a 15-minute walk. Barney's department store and designer shops on Fifth and Madison Avenues are about a 17-minute walk. Farther downtown, Times Square is about an 18-minute stroll from the hotel.
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 takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark can take more than 90 minutes.
Asian-inspired decor accents, luxurious bathrooms, and massive windows
Rooms are thoroughly modern and luxurious thanks to elegant Asian decor, hi-tech electronics, and some of the nicest bathrooms in Manhattan. The main differences between room categories are size and view. Standard rooms (Skyline View Rooms) average 400 square feet and all units have enormous floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests can upgrade rooms on higher floors and have views of the city and Central Park, though some views are partially obstructed by the neighboring Trump tower.
Decor varies slightly by room category, but overall the look is elegant and luxe with a muted color palette and layered textiles for depth. Subtle Asian accents like Chinese watercolor paintings and Buddha sculptures add interest to the spaces. Standard amenties include HD LCD TVs, iPod docks, yoga mats, automated minibars with Champagne and snacks, ironing boards, and irons. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi costs extra. Live orchids add a dash of color to the spaces. Smaller spaces have cushioned benches placed at the foot of the beds, while larger units include sofas.
The bathrooms are some of the best in the city. Even the least expensive standard rooms have deep soaking tubs and separate showers with rain showerheads. Small TVs hang above the bathtubs, but it might be more entertaining to look out the bathroom windows while soaking. Granite and marble fixtures are high end, and private water closets are a nice touch. Hairdryers, robes, slippers, and Fresh toiletries are provided.
For families, the hotel stocks rooms with welcome gifts for kids and small treats, like bathtub toys. Cribs, high chairs, and babysitting services can be arranged.
Asiate for contemporary dining, The Aviary NYC for cocktails, incredible spa, and stunning park and river views
It's impressive that the Mandarin Oriental, New York manages to take advantage of breathtaking Central Park and/or Hudson River views from most of its public spaces. The hotel restaurant, Asiate, serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch alongside floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the park. It serves contemporary American with Asian flair, and has an enormous wine collection. For less formal snacks and an excellent cocktail selection, Aviary NYC also has stunning views and a more casual vibe -- but the service is still excellent. On one of our undercover visits, while we waited for a table at Aviary, the hotel manager noticed we were standing alone and came over to chat while we waited -- a hospitable touch. Room service and kids' menus are available 24 hours.
The spa is a destination unto itself -- and lots of people book treatments here even if they're not staying at the hotel. It's Asian-inspired, starting with a shoe exchange ceremony on arrival. Guests are invited to arrive 45 minutes prior to their treatment to use the heat and water facilities. They're then treated to a customized tea in the Oriental Tea Lounge. Treatments range from the Digital Wellness Escape package to straightforward massages, facials, and body wraps. Some of the treatment rooms are truly over the top, with gorgeous views, fireplaces, and daybeds.
For working out, there's a modern fitness center with a range of TechnoGym equipment facing large windows. Fresh fruit, towels, earbuds, and fruit-infused water are supplied. The indoor pool (with more city views) offers 75 feet of space for swimming laps. Family hours are scheduled, and there's a lifeguard on duty.
The hotel has extensive space for conferences and meetings, plus a staffed business center. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi costs extra.
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