GANSEVOORT PARK AVE.
420 Park Ave. S., New York; 212-317-290; gansevoorthotelgroup.com. Rooms from $310. No eco-rating.
The original Gansevoort hotel in New York's Meatpacking District helped to turn that formerly seedy area into one of the city's more glamorous neighbourhoods. Now, with the stylish new Gansevoort Park, the hotel group hopes to bring some of that downtown cool to midtown. But don't expect throngs of wide-eyed club kids to be tripping around the bar, although Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry have all made the scene. Nonetheless, in keeping with its more stately, established location the hotel is a slightly more refined, grown-up and comfortable version of its downtown property.
The illuminated Park Avenue façade of New York's new Gansevoort hotel only hints at the wonders of a lobby that feels more Alice in Wonderland than midtown Manhattan: herringbone-pattern tile floor, colourful, oversize furniture and purple chandeliers. Elvis Costello and the Clash play on the sound system and the black-clad staff look every bit as chic as the fashionable guests. If you want to see where the real action is, though, you'll have to walk behind the panelled screen and ride the elevator up to Plunge Rooftop Bar + Lounge. The scene is buzzing with a young, stylish crowd who stand three deep at the bar (which is indoors) and take in the view from the sleek, wraparound patio. Glass inserts in the floor provide daredevil views to the street 17 storeys below.
Quieter and more subdued than the exuberant lobby or the hopping bar, rooms are spacious and comfortable, and most offer Juliette balconies overlooking the bustle of New York street life. Vaguely voyeuristic sepia photographs of lingerie models peeking out from Venetian blinds decorate the white walls. Hinge-mounted LCD televisions swivel to follow you around the room from the small couch to the bed to the writing desk. Glass-tiled bathrooms include soaking tubs, Cutler Salon amenities (the lotions are infused with prosecco grapes), plush robes and shower heads with enviable water pressure.
Each room boasts a music-loaded iPod Touch player anchored to a Zeppelin mini-dock that provides easy recharging and a way to keep the party going after the party. Those same devices can be used to order room service, spa appointments and even speed up checkout. Complimentary wireless is available throughout the property. In addition to all of the usual body treatments, the Exhale Spa offers yoga and core classes as well as such healing options as acupuncture, nutrition coaching and cleanses. The 24-hour fitness centre is tricked out with Star Trac equipment and personal trainers are available on request. It's not unusual to see babies in Ramones T-shirts and purebred dogs in striped sweaters hanging out with their parents in the lobby. The hotel has programs in place for both critters. Organic bath amenities and disposable diapers are available for babies, while older kids get their own room-service menu and an arcade's worth of gaming systems are available on request. Not to be left out, dogs get treats and toys in a personalized welcome package that includes a collar that says, "I'm staying at the Gansevoort Park Avenue."
Asellina is a handsome, clubby dining room with plush sofas and dark floors reflected in a copper ceiling. It is the latest project from the group behind hipster event space The Collective, and STK, the stylish steakhouse. They tagged media-savvy chef Marco Porceddu to build a menu of contemporary Italian comfort food that is both hearty and playful. Dishes like a rich "suckling pig flatbread," savoury wood-fired meatballs with cannellini beans, culatello and fontina, and pappardelle with homemade sausage and porcini mushrooms have become instant classics.
Long waits at the service desk were not uncommon, and room service took 30 minutes (about 10 minutes too long) to retrieve an empty tray. Nonetheless, the staff are uniformly friendly when you do get their attention and deeply knowledgeable about the city. Housekeeping was prompt and thorough.
The hotel is more than pulling its weight in helping to transform midtown Manhattan into a stylish, urban resort destination. With Asellina firing on all cylinders, combining a stylish crowd with great cocktails and sophisticated comfort food, and luxurious amenities worthy of a grand hotel, the Gansevoort Park stands out in one of the world's best hotel cities.
Special to The Globe and Mail