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A Sol LeWitt mural dominates the lobby atrium and contemporary art is featured throughout the hotel.

The Conrad New York has developed a reputation as a hub of cool in lower Manhattan since it opened last spring. The 16-storey glass and concrete building – once an Embassy Suites hotel – has been transformed into a luxury lodging, refitted with high-tech engineering and original artwork. It's a welcome addition to high-end escapes in Battery Park City.

LOCATION, LOCATION

Overlooking the Hudson River, with views of the Statue of Liberty and, if you know where to look, Leonard Di Caprio's penthouse apartment, the Conrad New York is close to Wall Street and the World Trade Center rebuilding project. Stay here if you have business in the financial district or are interested in exploring lower Manhattan, where in addition to the 9/11 Memorial, you'll find historic St. Paul's Chapel inside Trinity Church, where George Washington once worshipped.

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DESIGN

Perhaps inspired by the waterfront location, the hotel's bright and airy 15-storey lobby atrium resembles a fantastical ship about to heave forward through the enormous lobby windows and float down the river out front. Undulating modular furniture and an enormous 33-by-24-metre Sol LeWitt mural covered in snaking blue lines continues the motif. There is a feeling of edgy sophistication here that flows throughout the building, with original works of contemporary art by the likes of Julian Schnabel and Ellsworth Kelly.

BEST AMENITY

Imagine a hotel room that makes you feel as if you've just moved into the neighbourhood – that was my favourite part of my visit. Toronto-based interior designer Jill Greaves designed the suites to resemble a New York apartment complete with mini living rooms, featuring custom sofas and flat-screen TVs, and bedrooms with glassed-in walk-in showers as big as garden sheds.

EAT IN OR EAT OUT?

The Financial District isn't known for its fine dining, so eating in at the Atrio Wine Bar and Restaurant is a good idea. Casual Italian-American dishes such as artisanal salami platters and wood-fired pizza are the way to go here as the convivial atmosphere, especially potent in the bar area, encourages sharing food over wine. At breakfast go for the lemon ricotta pancakes.

ROOM WITH A VIEW

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Only 85 of the 463 suites have river views, but Room 824, which also overlooks the Irish Hunger Memorial on the Hudson River, is a great place to watch the sunset.

IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING

The Conrad is something of a hidden gem, the emphasis on hidden. Being located on the waterfront has its advantages though: the West Side Highway running and bike trail is close by, for starters. But ground transportation is not nearly as accessible. It is a brisk 10-minute walk (at least) to the nearest subway stop – for which you need detailed directions to find. Definitely pack your walking shoes.

Conrad New York, 102 North End Avenue, New York; 212-945-0100; conradnewyork.com; 463 suites starting at $199 (U.S.). Riverview suites start at $269 (U.S.).

The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel.

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