At the foot of Central Park, Mandarin Oriental, New York has the Big Apple’s best shopping, sightseeing and dining on its doorstep. Yet its opulent spa, destination restaurant and spectacular skyline views make it a peaceful retreat from the city streets below, says Siobhan Grogan.
Hotel Review: Mandarin Oriental, New York
Bustling Columbus Circle might be one of the busiest spots in Manhattan, but tranquillity reigns at the Mandarin Oriental, New York. Spread across floors 35 to 54 of the gleaming Deutsche Bank Center, the hotel is a swift elevator ride away from the busy streets that circle Central Park’s leafy lanes, lakes and zoo. The Museum of Modern Art is in strolling distance while Fifth Avenue’s high-end shops are a few blocks away.
Inside, the hotel is luxe but understated, with contemporary glass sculptures, a granite floor and silver-plated stair railings that make the 35th floor lobby feel more like a discreet private member’s club than a 244-room hotel. It’s no surprise that it draws a seriously A-list crowd: Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum and Adrien Brody were all staying when I was there.
Beyond reception, all eyes are drawn to the vast 16 ft windows of all-day restaurant MO Lounge, which frame one of the best views in the city. Astonishingly, you don’t need to dine in to make the most of it: every single room overlooks either the park or the Hudson River – though try bag one on a corner for views of both.
Rooms are equally stylish, with Asian-inspired décor, muted neutral shades and marble bathrooms stocked with divine Diptyque products in refillable bottles. Mine had dark mahogany furniture, striking modern art and a lavish arrangement of orchids, plus a yoga mat for sun salutations with skyline views and binoculars to people watch from above.
Best of all, there’s not a hint of single-use plastic in sight; even the room key card is made from wood. The hotel also has its own herb garden, sources glass-bottled mineral water from New York state rather than Europe, and supports a local charity that donates surplus food to communities in need. Guests can avoid cabs and use an electric car to travel within 20 blocks of the hotel, and borrow electric or regular bikes to whizz round Central Park like a local.
Shake off the jetlag with a few laps of the hotel’s 75 ft pool, flooded with sunlight and with panoramic views across the Hudson River. There’s also a 6000 sq ft fitness centre and a top-rated spa with an amethyst crystal steam room, Oriental tea lounge and vitality pool with oxygen-enriched water. Plus, guests can book a length of time with a therapist rather than a specific treatment to ensure every moment is tailored to meet any specific needs.
If you’re new to NYC, a New York CityPass® is a great investment ($138 for adults, CityPASS.com). Valid for nine consecutive days, it covers prepaid admission to five attractions, saving up to 40 percent, so you can tick off the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum and more. I’d recommend Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises to see the city – and the iconic Statue of Liberty – from the water and the Top of the Rock® Observation Deck on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center.
However, for a truly unforgettable view, head to Edge, the city’s newest observation deck on the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards (from $35 per adult, edgenyc.com). If you’re feeling really brave, sign up for City Climb at Edge ($185 per person, edgenyc.com) which was easily the highlight of my trip. In a helmet, jumpsuit and harness, you’ll climb a staircase on the outside of the skyscraper to the very top of the building where you can lean out from the highest outdoor platform in New York, a dizzying 1,271 ft above the street below. With uninterrupted views of the entire length of Manhattan, you’ll even look down on the Empire State Building in this adrenalin-fuelled 90-minute experience you’re sure to dine out on for days.
You don’t need to go far to eat at Mandarin Oriental, New York. The 35th floor MO Lounge serves food all day, and its astonishing skyline views mean you’ll be happy to linger as one meal turns into the next. While New Yorkers scurry to work on the streets below, tuck into classic eggs Benedict or Belgian waffles served with warm Vermont maple syrup and berry compote. By lunchtime, the menu offers classic American and Asian dishes including Chinese egg noodle soup, burgers with spicy aioli and – our favourite – buttermilk fried chicken with Asian slaw.
Don’t skip the cocktail list, either. They’re so good, the bar’s a favourite with demanding locals for after-work drinks. Try a Zesty Spritz with gin, bergamot liqueur, lemon and champagne, or a refreshing Walk in the Park which peps up a gin and tonic with cucumber, botanicals and elderflower.
If you want to go (a little) further afield, jump in the hotel’s elevator to The Shops at Columbus Circle below, where restaurants include Thomas Keller’s acclaimed Per Se and Masa from renowned sushi chef Masa Takayama. You won’t even need to set foot outside the building.
THE FINAL WORD
Hotels don’t come more glamorous than the Mandarin Oriental, New York. With its seriously A-list clientele, endlessly welcoming staff and those knockout views, it’s the ultimate way to experience the world’s most dazzling city.
Rooms at Mandarin Oriental, New York start from $895 and suites start at $2,400. Book at mandarinoriental.com
Find out more about the hotel’s sustainability initiatives here.
Visit nyctourism.com to plan your visit to the city.
United Airlines flies direct from London Heathrow to New York from £580 (economy) and £3766 (United Polaris business). united.com