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Insider: New York Hotels

MEDIA BLINTZ: Watch the press watching itself at the Royalton's 44 (44 W. 44th St.; 212/944-8844). Order Irish oatmeal with a side of papaya, or an egg-white omelette (Wheaties for the waist-watching magazine editor).
DESIGNER DINER: At Norma's (118 W. 57th St.; 212/245-5000), in Le Parker Meridien, what's not to love about the French coffee presses, the lobster-and-asparagus omelettes, and the candied orange slices that come with the check?
BILLIONAIRE'S BRUNCH: Go to Peacock Alley (301 Park Ave.; 212/872-4895), in the Waldorf-Astoria, for champagne, oysters, and caviar.
BEST-KEPT SECRET: Cantonese dim sum at Pacifica in Chinatown's Holiday Inn Downtown (138 Lafayette St.; 212/941-4168).

Put your mouth where your money is at 55 Wall (55 Wall St.; 212/699-5555) in the Regent Wall Street. Power lunchers spend the noon hour at Fifty Seven Fifty Seven (57 E. 57th St.; 212/758-5757) in the Four Seasons. In summer, sit on the sunny terrace of Nougatine (1 Central Park West; 212/299-3900), the lower-priced sibling of Jean Georges restaurant, both in the Trump International Hotel. Check out Broadway's industry-wide canteen, the Edison Café (228 W. 47th St.; 212/840-5000; no credit cards), a classic coffee shop—grease and all—in the Edison Hotel.

MOST-WANTED RESERVATION: Alain Ducasse, at the Essex House (160 Central Park South; 212/265-7300).
FRESHEST FISH: Quantum 56, at Swissôtel New York-The Drake (440 Park Ave.; 212/756-3800).
JULIA CHILD-WORTHY: Le Cirque 2000, at the New York Palace (455 Madison Ave.; 212/303-7788).
PICKUP SCENE: Icon, in the W Court (130 E. 39th St.; 212/592-8888).
STYLE CENTRAL: Mercer Kitchen, at the Mercer Hotel (99 Prince St.; 212/966-5454).
HIGH VOLTAGE: Jean Georges, in Trump International Hotel (1 Central Park West; 212/299-3900).
BEST VIEW OF TIMES SQUARE: Foley's Fish House, in the Renaissance Hotel (714 Seventh Ave.; 212/261-5200).

clubs, scrubs, and rubs
The elegant new spa and fitness center at the Plaza (Fifth Ave. at 59th St.; 212/546-5444) has mosaic-lined locker rooms with whirlpools, and possibly the roomiest showers in town. Best treatment: peppermint foot massage. The new gym at the New York Palace (455 Madison Ave.; 212/888-7000) keeps world-class trainers on hand, along with everything else you'll need, including loaner T-shirts and New Balance sneakers. The workout space at W New York's Away Spa & Gym (541 Lexington Ave.; 212/407-2970) is as big as a Home Depot and refreshingly bright, while an afternoon in the adjoining spa calms jitters with its mossy-hued surroundings and menu of Asian-influenced rubdowns and ablutions. Best treatment: Javanese Lulur, a jasmine-infused full-body scrub and massage. Calling all jocks and mock-jocks: Get thee to Casa in the Regency (540 Park Ave.; 212/223-9280) for private training sessions with Christopher Imbo, trainer to the stars.

the new take on tea
"A thousand years of development have gone into making tea taste good," says James Labe, New York's only tea sommelier. On duty at Heartbeat restaurant in the W New York (149 E. 49th St.; 212/407-2900), where he's taken to personally filling the cloth teabags, Labe wants customers to approach tea with all the passion of an oenophile on tour in Bordeaux. The tea menu, presented at the start of a meal, lists a dozen choices including Tung Ting, a Taiwanese oolong noted for its "delicate lilac bouquet and pale yellow liquor." Go for the afternoon tastings. Other great pot stops: Lady Mendl's in the Inn at Irving Place (56 Irving Place; 212/533-4600) and the Pierre's Rotunda (2 E. 61st St.; 212/838-8000).

affordable bets
Incentra Village House (32 Eighth Ave.; 212/206-0007; from $149) is a downtown secret. The mahogany paneling and granite floors of the new Wall Street Inn (9 S. William St.; 212/747-1500; from $150) are old-money (in spirit, anyway). Budget-minded families can spread out in a three-bed room ($103) at the recently opened Park View Hotel (55 Central Park North; 212/369-3340), a gentrified-Harlem hostel with a heart -- and shared bathrooms.

Fauchon, the Paris tea salon and luxury foods purveyor, opens this month in the Drake Swissôtel (440 Park Ave.; 212/421-0900). The place for architecture and design books is the Municipal Arts Society in the courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel (457 Madison Ave.; 212/935-3960). And at the Paramount (235 W. 46th St.; 212/764-5500), home of the world's most ambitious sundries counter, you can score a packet of "gummy butts" or a pair of erotic dice. Behave, New York.


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