When my husband and I arrived at the AAA Five Diamond Wagner Hotel (formerly Ritz-Carlton Battery Park), fresh off a red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York, we were exhausted and hoping against hope that our room would be ready at the absurdly early time of 7am. We were eager to explore NYC, but first we needed a a shower, a nap….and brunch at the hotel’s 2 West restaurant.
Thankfully, the front desk staff took one look at the two weary travelers before them, and graciously allowed us to check-in early. It was a move that would become emblematic of the above-and-beyond service we experienced throughout our short stay.
Battery Park, at first glance, feels a bit far from what you might think of as quintessential NYC. It’s down at the bottom of Manhattan, dozens of blocks from Times Square and Grand Central Station; it feels a world away from Central Park and the Upper West Side. But while the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, feels like classic NYC luxury, Battery Park has a more modern feel and caters to those who want updated design, high-tech bells and whistles, and the service befitting Wall Street multi-millionaires.
There are 298 guest rooms (40 are suites), which are decorated in rich brown wood, and calming beige and pastel textiles. I was in a Liberty View room, which, as the name implies, had a gob-smacking view of Lady Liberty in all her glory, plus a telescope for better up-close viewing.
It had a King bed with 400-thread-count Frette linens and goose down pillows (read: it was incredibly comfortable), and a fairly spacious live/work area with an armchair, flat screen tv, and a small workstation with desk and chair. The marble bathroom, also roomy by NYC standards, had Asprey amenities and a separate bathtub and shower.
There’s a 24-hour business center and onsite spa at the Wagner Hotel at the Battery, and the 2 West restaurant and cocktail bar, which I dined at twice during my short stay (it was that good). The first meal was brunch, an indulgent start to my trip, which included crab cakes Oscar (a poached egg with hollandaise over asparagus), poached lobster skillet (over asparagus and hashbrowns and topped with bearnaise) and a decadent French toast. Service was an welcoming here as at the front desk; during breakfast, staff even ran next door to a Duane Reade to pick up a specific newspaper I wanted to read.
After walking several miles around Lower Manhattan, I came back in the late afternoon for happy hour snack of house-made sangria, lamb meatballs with marina, and house-made potato chips topped with blue cheese and bacon. Despite the decadence, the prices were quite reasonable; this is not a hotel that overcharges for food and drink simply because it can.
Parking, however, is another story. As elsewhere in NYC, parking at the hotel is pricey, at $65 per day. You’re better off taking cabs and trains, or the hotel’s complimentary shuttle, runs from 7am to 9am on weekdays and 6pm to 8pm Friday and Saturday. Cabs where plentiful in the area, and the bellman (who were also helpful with luggage) were quick to hail us a cab.
I found it easiest to hoof it around town, particularly as the sights I most wanted to see are located close by: the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, One World Trade Center, ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Wall Street, and Trinity Church. The next morning, we were booked a tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and it was so convenient to walk five minutes to the ferry.
While any hotel that was previously a Ritz-Carlton property is sure to offer luxurious rooms and impeccable service, I particularly liked the more modern, hip feel of the Wagner Battery Park location. Though the hotel’s decor and service felt more youthful and relaxed, it never lapsed into neglectful or too trendy. It was classic NYC, with a modern spin.