There’s the air-con, of course: as brutal as you’d hope for, when the mercury and the humidity rise to insufferable levels outside, and you can’t bear to be on the sidewalk with the clueless legion clutching Macy’s, Converse and Century 21 bags. Then there’s the view: from a glorious opera box overlooking West 59th Street, down to the queues of horses and carriages waiting to head into Central Park. Both are strong selling points. But what we like most about the Club Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South is the never-ending gratis buffet and accompanying wines and spirits. The whole thing is one perfectly climate controlled Central Park picnic for sybarite agoraphobics.
We’ve been fans of this particular hotel for years – the rooms are plush, and high floors have telescopes aimed at the Park that offer hours of entertainment. Obviously they’d be more fun looking into, say, the Rear Window-style apartments down inside London Terrace in Chelsea, but there’s always the peek-a-boo activity at the Standard Hotel above the Highline for the committed voyeur (Balazs knew precisely what he was doing when he first looked at those blueprints!). The telescopes at the Ritz-Carlton are better for bird-watching, and for close ups of the foliage turning a golden fiery red in the fall.
The Ritz-Carlton Central Park is the antithesis of the so-hot-right-now downtown hotels from the likes of Sean MacPherson
The Ritz-Carlton Central Park is the antithesis of the so-hot-right-now downtown hotels from the likes of Sean MacPherson. There’s no notable dining room or bar scene, the interiors are sophisticated, lush and actually look expensive (albeit closer to the decorous Arabesque end of the spectrum in terms of tones of wood, ruched curtains and overall upholstery), and the service assumes CEO status of all of its guests. This is a hotel for grown-ups. And instead of hanging out in the lobby, or working and socialising in your Club Floor suite, the Club Lounge is the heart of the place. We like to breakfast in it, check our emails over a coffee, work for a few hours, and then enjoy a casual buffet lunch, with generous amounts of self-serve, and surprisingly excellent, Chardonnay. And then just see where that takes us. It will, invariably, take us back to the Club Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails.
We have a wonderful guide book in the Civilian New York office which someone discovered on eBay: New York Behind the Scenes – Uncensored! was published in 1939, and goes into detail about the status of hotels of the day, and the long term nature of the stay of many guests: “When pretty girls first get that boyfriend they move into the St Moritz, later the Essex House, finally the Waldorf.” The Ritz-Carlton currently occupies the building that once housed The St Moritz, one of starchitect Emery Roth’s landmarks (along with the oft-destroyed-in-disaster-movies-MetLife Building), and it stands head and shoulders above the lacklustre Essex House and Waldorf. We wouldn’t want to take advantage of an open bar anywhere else in the neighbourhood. C
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, 50 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019 USA
+1 (212) 308 9100; ritzcarlton.com