Two blocks from two subway lines; more within walking distance
No iPod-docking radios in most room types
No in-room coffeemaker
Fitness center and pool have limited hours
The 239-room Peninsula has elegant guest rooms, an indoor pool, superb gym (free workout gear, organic teas, and a sauna and steam room), widely praised spa and salon, and in-room printers that make it a fine choice for a quiet, classically luxurious hotel. And for designer shopping, its Fifth Avenue location is ideal.
"Old New York"-style opulence, like the others; but a superb spa, gym, and pool to best the rest
Set in a grandiose, century-old building on Fifth Avenue -- amid eclectic, highest-of-the-high-end jewelry boutiques, long-lauded restaurants, and some more mainstream retailers like the Gap and the World of Disney -- the 239-room Peninsula Hotel evokes a quiet, classic, business-leaning elegance that's similar in spirit to that of the Ritz-Carlton. Virtually every square inch of the property is gilded, coated in marble, flourished with something French (or Asian), or (less-thrillingly) carpeted. Its doormen are quick to hail cabs and they'll rush out into the rain to open a car door, umbrella in hand. But, naturally, this is par for the course for a New York hotel at these prices.
So, what differentiates the Peninsula? In terms of elaborate, awe-inspiring beauty, the Peninsula is arguably bested by the St. Regis (across the street), the Pierre, the Plaza, the New York Palace, the Four Seasons, the Mandarin Oriental, and a number of other steeply priced competitors. But the Peninsula has one clear advantage -- one of the best indoor pools, gyms and spas in the city (only the pool at the Mandarin Oriental compares). The rooms, too, have some notable perks -- a printer/copier/fax machine, a one-touch "mood lighting" control panel on the bedside table, and a speaker system in the bathroom connected to a control panel in the tub so that you can switch from classical to adult contemporary midway through a soak. Considering this, and the fact that the hotel is often less expensive than the hotels directly on Central Park -- the Ritz-Carlton, the Plaza, and the Mandarin Oriental, among them -- it can be an excellent luxury pick for the price.
Formal, attentive service -- prompt doormen, white linen on the room service carts, knowledgeable concierges. A dozen extra free bottles of water for the room? Just ask.
The fine-dining Clement restaurant serves contemporary American dishes with hefty price tag
Staff attendants at the pool and gym, poolside dining and cocktails available (though, unlike other Peninsula hotels, like those in Hong Kong or Beverly Hills, the attendants don't automatically bring guests water and towels)
Free fitness classes (yoga, aqua-aerobics, and boot-camp-style cardio, among others); free water, tea, and coffee; even free workout clothes to borrow
Free DVD library
Free local newspaper of choice, including the New York Times and the Financial Times
Surrounded by some of the highest-end retailers on Fifth Avenue
Though its building sits along the dense, shopping stretch of Fifth Avenue -- such ultra-upscale outfits as Bottega Veneta (purses) and Takashimaya (elaborate, bejeweled miscellanea) share the block -- the Peninsula's entrance is actually along East 55th Street, across from a beautiful church and significantly less foot traffic than you'd find along the avenue. More mainstream retailers like the Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, and the World of Disney also fit snugly along Fifth Avenue, drawing considerably more tourists than you'd find farther north in the Upper East Side (near the Pierre Hotel, for example), but the Peninsula's location is more central.
Two blocks from the E or V subway lines; many other subway stations are within a four block radius
Large, comfortable rooms with great work areas -- fax machines included
When it comes to well-thought-out room features, the Peninsula's guest rooms are a cut above. Individual printer/copier/fax machines; a single-button system to set the room to "mood lighting" from the bedside table; a console in the tub that'll let you control the radio -- all unique highlights you won't find at the Mandarin Oriental, the Carlyle, or the the Plaza (the Four Seasons and the St. Regis, however, do have fax machines in the rooms).
The beds are comfy with high-quality linens; there are flat-screen TVs above the stocked minibars; and both iPads and Beats by Dre products are provided during your stay. Gorgeous marble bathrooms have robes and slippers, Oscar de la Renta toiletries, and either shower/tub combos or walk-in glass showers and separate bathtubs.
The large workdesk has built-in power outlets, an additional pullout wing (for even more workspace), and a printer/copier/fax machine with private number and paper provided. The bedside electronic control panelslet you adjust the lights (you can switch to "mood lighting" by the push of a button), the radio, the temperature, and the TV from bed; it's fun, but the only real advantage is being able to turn off the lights before bed without having to get up. Rooms also have DVD players and DVDs can be borrowed.
The Superior Room, the standard room type, comes with a king-size bed (only) and starts at a comfortable 370 square feet -- larger than the standard rooms at the Pierre and Carlyle hotels; smaller than Four Seasons, Plaza, Ritz-Carlton, and Trump International. Deluxe Rooms offer a bit more space at 440 square feet.
Standard and Deluxe Rooms and Junior Executive Suites (620 square feet) have "interior views," which makes the rooms quiet, but you're not likely to get much natural light (rooms above the 15th floor, however, have a slight view from the locked balcony); Grand Luxe Rooms (480 square feet with a king beds or two doubles), Junior Suites (575 square feet), Executive Suites (725 square feet), Deluxe Suites (1050 square feet), Grand Suites (1625 square feet), and The Peninsula Suite (3,300 square feet and redesigned in 2012 with a grand piano, library, private dining room, and black Jacuzzi tub, among other highlights) all overlook either Fifth Avenue, 54th or 55th Street.
Large indoor pool and incredible gym with plenty of freebies, including fitness classes
Warm, glass-enclosed pool on the 22nd floor -- 42 feet long (enough for a short lap); 3.5- to 5.5-feet-deep; children welcome
Superb gym, one of the best in New York -- new Life Fitness cardio and strength-training equipment; free water, apples, headphones (for the private TV monitors on each of the cardio machines), magazines, organic teas and coffee, and workout clothes (even shoes); extra space to stretch; beautiful views of the New York skyline
Personal trainers and free fitness classes daily -- yoga, aqua-aerobics, and boot-camp-style cardio, among others
Outdoor sun terrace (open during warm weather)
Free access to men's/women's locker rooms, including their sauna and steam rooms
Fine dining restaurant, rooftop bar, and lounge area
Clement serves contemporary American dishes in a chic modern setting; the well-executed fare is on the pricey side, averaging about $35 to $40 for an entree, like black sea bass and lamb
Styled in the spirit of 1930s Shanghai, Salon De Ning -- a 23rd-floor rooftop terrace that's popular among locals for its beautiful views and swank outdoor setting -- offers excellent, $22 cocktails.
The Gotham Lounge, a quiet, elegant meeting area just off the lobby, hosts a popular afternoon tea from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Otherwise, it's a quiet space for a more mature clientele to indulge in a $22 martini without the clubby riffraff.
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available for as little as $8 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.
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