BACKGROUND The hotel stands on the historic spot of The Villard Mansion, the residence of Henry Villard, a renowned American financier. It was restored before opening as The Helmsley Palace in 1980, when a lot of its interiors were reconstructed, in order to retain its age-old charm. Korea-based LOTTE Hotels & Resorts assumed ownership of the property, and relaunched it as Lotte New York Palace in 2015.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The 55-storey hotel’s incredible architecture and history makes it one of the most sought-after locations in the city especially The Courtyard at the Palace. It is the hotel’s aesthetic entrance on Madison Avenue, through iron gates embellished with a Florentine lantern. The Courtyard at The Palace incorporates 15th century Italian motifs, inspired by the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I entered from the other gate that directly leads to its two-storey marble lobby. You can use its grand staircase to access the second level of its lobby that features Villard Ballroom, The Reid Salon (meeting space) and Villard (breakfast restaurant and meeting space).
It’s a 909-key property that has divided its rooms between Lotte New York Palace — with 733 guest rooms and The Tower at Lotte New York Palace — a hotel within a hotel concept that occupies the top 14 floors of the hotel with 176 rooms (wifi is free only here). Since I was staying at the latter, my check-in took place at the dedicated reception of The Towers that felt like an exclusive welcome with a Les Clef d’Or concierge team. The hotel’s Tower rooms, Executive, Tower and Specialty suites are housed here. I particularly liked the Jewel suite by Martin Katz that’s created in collaboration with the eponymous jewellery designer and features jewel-inspired interiors.
WHERE IS IT? In the heart of midtown Manhattan, walking distance from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. JFK Airport is 45 minutes away.
ROOM FACILITIES The first thing that struck me upon entering my Tower room on the 52nd floor of The Towers was the magnificent view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and surrounding skyscrapers. It’s a large room by Manhattan standards at 43 sqm. Designed in subtle shades of sand and oyster, the room is elegant with a separate seating area that features a leather armrest chair and a glass-top table with a lamp and a telephone. The hotel had placed a lovely dessert plate with truffles and a white chocolate bar with an edible picture of its iconic staircase on my work desk. The marble bathroom on the left of the entrance features Molten Brown toiletries. There is a minibar on the right beside a closet that has a safety deposit box and umbrellas that came in handy with New York’s unpredictable weather. The room’s master switch, button-controlled curtains and lights were blessings on jet lagged nights. I connected my phone to a Bose music system beside the bed, where I also charged my phone via convenient power sockets.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Villard’s avocado on toasted brioche with crispy prosciutto and “the New Yorker” pizza with smoked salmon are must-tries. I was awed by its interiors that reminisce the Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain for the latter part of the 19th century. This was defined by its elaborate golden ceiling and suspended balcony at the north end of this chamber that was once a music room. There is also a reservation-only 25-seat salon called Rarities that features a colonial bar-style ambience with portraits, and houses rare wines and spirits. Tavern on 51, accessed directly from 51st Street, serves vintage cocktails. Trouble’s Trust, with innovative cocktails, pays homage to Leona Helmsey’s puppy Trouble — the bar’s namesake. Pomme Palais’ signature items include colourful macarons and eclairs. The Courtyard at The Palace is a great spot for outdoor cocktails.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Featuring 2,787 sqm, its meeting spaces are spread across four floors of The Villard Mansion. Some of its landmark event venues include Madison Room with light green marble walls and fireplaces, and the two-storey Renaissance-style Gold Room that also houses Villard.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a spa and a gym.
VERDICT Old-world elegance in the heart of the city. Ideal for business travellers who enjoy a touch of luxury on their corporate trips.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in October in a Superior room started from US$422/₹27,060.
CONTACT Lotte New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022; tel: +1 (212) 888-7000; lottenypalace.com