Hotel check: Andaz Fifth Avenue New York

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The second of Hyatt’s boutique-brand Andaz properties to open in New York (the other one is on Wall Street), the Fifth Avenue property opened last July and offers guests a relaxed, upmarket place to stay with an informal lobby area with “hosts” that mingle with guests and check them in and out with portable tablet computers.

It can be a bit bemusing at first because it is not always obvious who is a member of staff and who is not as they don’t where distinctive uniforms. When I arrived, after being offered a glass of wine or cup of coffee, I was shown to my room by a very glamorous young woman in stiletto heels who insisted on taking my suitcase for me despite me protesting – I was, after all, in flat shoes, of a similar age and perfectly capable of doing it myself. She was very friendly and helpful, and took time to show me how everything worked in the room.

WHERE IS IT? On Fifth Avenue at 41st Street, opposite the grand New York Public Library and a ten-minute walk to Times Square and Grand Central Station. It is about 30 minutes in a taxi from JFK airport and costs US$50-US$60.

ROOM FACILITIES There is a wide selection of room types but décor is the same in all of them – a rather masculine palette of grey, cream and white with black porcelain and gold Travertine marble bathrooms. Wifi access is free, as are local phone calls and the snacks and soft drinks in the minibar, which I thought was a nice touch. Large 42-inch flatscreen TVs, iPod docks, air conditioning, robes, safes, hairdryers and 24-hour room service are all available as standard.

My 34 sqm Andaz Loft had a separate area for working and two sets of windows that opened to let in fresh air (which I was very pleased about). The views were of an office block on the other side of the road, though, so not very inspiring. Although the lighting wasn’t great for putting on make-up, the bathroom was the highlight for me, with sliding doors revealing marble walls, a huge walk-in shower with foot-soaking basin, twin sinks and toiletries from New York apothecary CO Bigelow.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The modern-minimalist hotel has a street-level eatery on the ground floor known as the Shop. It is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the week, and brunch and dinner only at the weekend. An open kitchen dishes up tasty New York treats such as bagels, pancakes, egg cream sodas, hand cut pastrami and daily specials. There is also a retail area selling cookery books and novels such as Ayn Rand’s famous The Fountainhead, jars of pickles and chutneys, and coffee and muffins to go.

A speakeasy-style bar in the basement (open 5pm-12am Monday to Friday and 6pm-1am Saturday) serves food, cocktails and wine, and has slate floors and brick walls. I didn’t get a chance to visit during the evening but I imagine it would attract a rather hip crowd.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There is 604 sqm of event space that makes up Apartment 2E. Located on the first floor, it incorporates an open-plan kitchen for catering and cooking demos, plenty of natural light through the floor-to-ceiling windows, Japanese-style sliding doors, free wifi, glass display cabinets, a courtyard that is available for use in summer months, a bar/den, and two studios that can be hired for meetings. For a function of up to 500 delegates, the whole level can be taken over.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is a gym in the basement with Life Fitness equipment and free weights, but no swimming pool or spa. It is free for guests to use.

VERDICT The Andaz brand tends to appeal to the younger generation, with its attractive, welcoming staff, free wine in the evening, chilled out atmosphere, and slick, minimalist rooms. But being on Fifth Avenue means it enjoys an excellent location, rooms are of a decent size (from 29 sqm) and wifi is complimentary so it is a good bet for any business traveller.

FACT FILE

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 184 rooms across 14 categories including Respire by Hypo-Allergenic rooms for allergy sufferers, 45 sqm Andaz Large Lofts and Andaz Splash suite with freestanding tubs.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The marble walk-in rainshower, minibar with free soft drinks and snacks, and free wifi.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in May started from US$388 for an Andaz King room.

CONTACT Andaz Fifth Avenue, 485 Fifth Avenue at 41st Street; tel +1 212 6011 234; newyork.5thavenue.andaz.hyatt.com

Jenny Southan


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