Suite: Central Park View Suite | Size: 69 square metres | Price: From US$1799 (A$2490) per night | marriott.com
JW Marriott Essex House New York is one of New York’s most celebrated hotels. For more than 80 years, guests have enjoyed the superb location on Central Park South. The hotel completed a massive US$38 million transformation of its 426 guest rooms, 101 suites and hallways in 2017. Dramatically redesigned to interpret a new and modern aesthetic, the hotel’s structure and the strong lines of its Art Déco heritage have been redefined, while preserving landmark features such as the ornate gilded doors, rich wood panelling in the public areas and Beaux-Arts salon that has hosted numerous dignitaries over the years. It is the first JW Marriott
brand hotel in New York City.
Corner Suite 3201 has one of the most iconic views imaginable, straight across Central Park, from the 32nd floor, with Fifth Avenue, the imposing buildings of Central Park West and the Wollman Rink framed in the windows of the large living area and king-size bedroom. Just as fascinating are the views of the terraces on the neighbouring 1920s apartment building – giving me a bad case of residential envy.
What more do you need? Fifth Avenue, Columbus Circle, Broadway, Lincoln Center, Upper East and West sides, Madison Avenue and the great Midtown shopping emporia are all within walking distance, and Central Park is just across the road. Strolling through the world’s most famous park provides endless opportunities to see New Yorkers in a natural setting. If it’s snowing, join in winter sports such as ice-skating or tobogganing or just sit on a cushioned chaise in the warmth and marvel at the winter wonderland. All seasons are beautiful.
The Look and Feel
The hotel has undergone a major transformation, which pays respect to its marvellous heritage but also glams it up considerably. The mood is residential, with art books and a big sectional sofa in the living area piled with lots of cushions. It feels spacious, even though the architects had to keep the original landmark features, such as window size and ceiling heights. Much of this is due to the choice of fabrics and carpet, toned in sophisticated silvers, charcoals and lighter greys, and the striking striped wallpaper. There’s a wide hallway, closet, marble bathroom and powder room. Large flat-screen TVs can also stream your Hulu and Netflix service. A room-length black lacquer table in the living area works well as a desk and a bar.
Southgate Bar & Restaurant on Central Park South has a full American menu and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant was originally designed by Tony Chi; the hotel has left much of his design intact, with a wall of beautiful cut mirrors and an opposite wall of dozens of wine bottles enclosed in glass. A “Herban Garden” at the entrance echoes the hotel’s outdoor surroundings in Central Park. All suite guests also have access to the lobby level Executive Lounge, which serves snacks and buffet meals around the clock, plus an honour bar (wine, beers, spirits) along with canapés Sunday to Thursday. The lounge was a disappointment, however, as the complimentary beverages were surprisingly limited (there’s a charge for alcohol – $14 for a fairly ordinary pinot noir) and the room had the feel of a cafeteria, with TV sports blaring. Better to have cocktails in your elegant suite.
The Spa Services
While the hotel does not have a formal spa, there are two private massage rooms within the fitness centre. The hotel offers services from PRIMP Spa, a company that provides a variety of services such as massage, facials, private workouts with a trainer, hair and make-up, and manicures and pedicures. These appointments can be booked through the hotel. In-room treatments in a Park View Suite are both private and indulgent.
The Special Touches
I appreciated the thoughtfulness of placing a chaise sofa in the window of the master bedroom. It was wonderful to snuggle up on it and contemplate the dreamy outlook, especially when a late winter storm dumped heavy drifts of snow on Central Park.