Manhattan is synonymous with luxury and refinement: Gina Baksa experiences four iconic hotels in the city: The Sherry-Netherland at Central Park, Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, the Conrad New York – both in the regenerated One World Trade Center district – and Trump SoHo
New York’s skyline forever changed on 9-11, but out of the ashes a new confidence has arisen, thanks in part to the massive regeneration of the WTC/Wall Street/Battery Park areas in Lower Manhattan. My previous visit was four years ago and I’m amazed at the transformation. The impressive One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower) is now complete – at a cost of $3.9 billion – and is the tallest structure in the western hemisphere: 104 floors rising to a height of 1776 ft /541.3m including the spire.
Joining the financial firms in the area are tech startups, publishing houses, luxury shops and luxury condos. A new destination shopping mall – Brookfield Place – has been created adjacent to the North Cove Marina, and with the addition of Westfield World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan has become the city’s top luxury retail destination.
The Sherry-Netherland, 781 Fifth Avenue
I begin my stay however, not in Lower Manhattan but in Central Park – at the corner of 5th Avenue and East 59th street – the location of the iconic and award-winning Sherry-Netherland hotel. A giant signature sidewalk clock marks this grand dame’s entrance: Situated opposite Central Park, the Sherry apartment-hotel was built in 1927 and celebrates its 90th birthday this year. Long the favourite of movie stars, politicos and Upper East Side old money, the hotel is also on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold list. I can see why as soon as I arrive: white-gloved doormen welcome me into a cool inner lobby that resembles a movie set: a marble and gilt inner sanctum with an impressive ceiling mural by 1920s artist Joseph Aruta who based his work on Raphael’s frescoes at the Vatican. The effect is astonishing; quite the most splendid entrance to any hotel I have ever seen.
Just 50 of The Sherry’s rooms and suites are available for discerning guests. The remaining apartments are privately owned, some of which are for sale. Each guest room and suite is individually furnished and decorated reflecting the personal taste of its owner. Rooms range from a 380-square-foot Courtyard room to a 2,055-square-foot two-bedroom suite overlooking Central Park.