Come January it’s time to hit the streets of New York like a real New Yorker as locals converge inside the Javits Center for the ever popular New York Times Travel Show while the gourmet lovers imbibe on culinary treats during the NYC Restaurant Week not to mention theater fans who nab 2-for-1 tickets during the star-studded Broadway Week.
But once you take a big bite out of any of these Big Apple experiences in off-season (I recommend exploring all three), it’ll be time to loosen the belt and kick off the footwear.
For downtime, head to Midtown East, pegged as NYC’s ‘next frontier’ due to the bustling dining, shopping and cultural sites, and check-in to the Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza.
You feel like a local as the exclusive luxury property has ‘the doorman’ touch and unconventionally larger room and suite sizes compared to other city hotels. The other: the landmark marbled and mirrored lobby harkens to Manhattan’s Studio 54 era.
Built in the 70s the Kevin Roche-designed building was once described by New York Times architectural critic Paul Goldberger as, “the most sensuous piece of modern design in a public place in New York since the Four Seasons was finished in 1958.” The hotel is located on the 28-39th floors within a pair of 40 story skyscrapers.
The landmark hotel has gone through a few reincarnations but since a $68-million guest room refurb completion last year, the glam property is now managed under the Hilton network as the new, sparkling Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza.
Now for more highlights:
Adjacent to the United Nations Headquarters in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, the hotel is situated on the corner of First Avenue and Forty Fourth Street.
Located near the illustrious Grand Central Station NY public transit is footsteps away. Commutes are convenient with your choice of New York taxis waiting curbside or Uber while the crosstown bus is down the street. The other highly recommended mode of transport is the New York ferry. One sunny afternoon after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge over to Brooklyn to enjoy the best skyline view imaginable, it was time to think of an exit strategy. The New York ferry drifts into the pier and within a NY minute the boat sails to its final stop: East 34th Street, conveniently located near the hotel.
My Deluxe Corner King room on the 38th Floor of the West Tower had a swooping L-shaped floor to ceiling windows with views-to-die for and was the size of a small NY condo.
The suite pluses
The 439-room hotel has good room categories. For families in need of more space, inquire about the 2-floor Duplex suites which feel more like a personal NYC apartment. In-room coffee from Illy is well stocked for those of us who prefer starting the day lounging on the chaise lounge overlooking East River with a cup of fresh brew in hand.
The suite drawback
Bedroom bathroom products are from the posh Peter Thomas Roth line. Think like a Double O agent and hit the other courts, which are secret tennis courts on the premise.
For corporate travelers who need to let off some steam or leisure travelers who didn’t hit the pavement as much as they wanted, there’s a fitness center overlooking the skyline open 24 hours a day.
Choose from three dining areas. The Ambassador Grill is a 70s throwback with a polished heritage green and white diamond grid floor including back-lit acrylic wine racks that emit a nightclub aura about it. The multi-mirrored, windowless room has the mood lighting dimmed all day. The eatery recently garnered a new landmark status from the New York Heritage Society as a designated New York City Landmark.
For a daily fee, the Skyline Club on the 30th floor offers twice daily food and beverage options. The breakfast is continental with a hot food station while in the late afternoon early evenings guests enjoy an evening reception with an array of light snacks from the hot food station and an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages and wine.
The original glittering mirrors stay true to intrigue and espionage at the Ambassador Lounge.
Overall impression: Think high security and the utmost discretion on guest privacy. With a nod to the seventies past, guests might easily rub shoulders with the foreign dignitaries and heads of state that the hotel has hosted for over four decades.