Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Alex, New York

26 Jan 2005 by business traveller

What's it like? An elegant, comfortable and understated bolthole tucked away from the madness of Manhattan. Opened at the end of 2003, the purpose-built Alex is housed in a sleek 33-storey tower, with interiors styled by David Rockwell, who also designed New York's Nobu restaurant and W hotels.  

Where is it? 45th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

How many rooms? 203 rooms, suites and apartments.

Room facilities: Guest rooms are fashioned in calming creams and browns, with Sharp flat-screen LCD TVs (even in the limestone bathrooms), and bed linens, towels and bathrobes by Frette. There are also Sharp audio and DVD players, exclusive bath products by Frederic Fekkai, and tables that have flip-out desks with T-1 internet connections.

Above the 10th floor are longer-stay ?residential suites? that have Poggenpohl kitchens (some with views of the East River and the nearby Chrysler Building) equipped with Gaggenau cookers and Miele dishwashers. Guests can fill out ?preference profiles? so that personal details such as wake-up call times can be stored for their next visit. On the downside, I noticed poor attention to detail: my bathroom ceiling had been sloppily repainted; the kickboard in the kitchen was missing; and much of the custom-built furniture was already showing signs of wear and tear.

The hotel staff were refreshingly honest; the member of staff who showed me around my room warned me about the ?real expensive? mini-bar: ?It's $4 for a Coke in there, and just $1.20 at the corner store. You might want to reflect on that, because I don't want you thinking we're crooks or something here in New York City.? The concierge services could best be described as inconsistent. A request for train times to Connecticut was greeted in the morning with the unhelpful advice that I should walk over to nearby Grand Central Station, while in the evening, the same request led to an internet printout being delivered to my room just minutes later.

Business centre: There's a converted guest room on the third floor which has three computers, a fax machine and printer, and is open 24 hours a day. The hotel also offers ?business carts? that hold office equipment and that can be wheeled into guest rooms on request.

Fitness centre: The gym is open 24 hours.

Restaurant and bar: Riingo is an American-Japanese bar and restaurant run by Marcus Samuelsson, recently voted Best Chef in New York City. The bar serves infused sakes and signature red apple martinis; the restaurant offers dishes such as beer-braised beef short ribs and green tea doughnuts. Dinner costs around $55.  

Price: Starting from $369.   

Contact: The Alex, 205 East 45th Street, New York, tel 1 212 867 5100,www.thealexhotel.com.  

Philip Watson

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