Palatial Palace


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Cat19 on August 10, 2009

A few years ago, I worked for a Swiss bank and it was necessary for me to make frequent business trips to Zurich and New York. Whenever I as in New York, I tried to get a room in the New York Palace Hotel and fortunately most of the time I was successful. So this is a hotel I have stayed at on many occasions. By and large, my experiences were very similar each time; I always stayed in the same standard of room and I always received the same standard of service from the staff.

The New York Palace, or the Palace as I call it, it takes up the entire block between Madison and Park Avenues and 50th and 51st street, i.e. midtown Manhattan. I think this is a perfect location for any visitor as many of the highlights of New York are within easy walking distance. The Rockefeller Plaza is moments away and it is an easy walk to Broadway and Times Square too. When I managed to escape the office, I would sometimes take a stroll north up Madison or 5th Avenue, browsing the shops and it is then not much further to the Frick Collection (5th and 70th) or the Metropolitan Museum of Art (5th and 83rd). Alternatively one can easily head south to the Empire State Building (5th and 34th). I really only ever found I needed a taxi or public transport if I was going right down town.

I usually travelled to New York on a late afternoon or evening flight from London which meant arriving at the hotel at around 8pm local time give or take an hour or two. The main hotel entrance and lobby is breath taking, palatial and exquisitely decorated; the entrance is especially beautiful during the December holiday season.

Reception is invariably busy at this hotel but there are plenty of manned desks so never much of a wait, a relief to somebody still on European time. Staff are friendly, charming and would usually refer to my previous visits. Before my very first visit, somebody recommended I ask for a room with a view of St Patrick’s Cathedral next door, the staff are more than happy to oblige and I managed to get a room with a view on more or less every visit and it is indeed a beautiful building and a fantastic view.

I always stayed in the lowest category of room, which is known as the deluxe room and deluxe it is. At 360 square feet these rooms are huge by New York standards and certainly much larger than I found in other hotels on one of my many personal visits to New York. I often had a room with two large double beds although sometimes I would get a king. I had no particular preference as I was by myself anyway.

The décor is traditional; glossy mahogany furniture, heavy curtains and heavy expensive looking cushions scattered around, typically in shades of gold, red or green. The only modern touches in these rooms are the large flat screen TVs. The bathrooms do not let the side down either; above average in size, traditional, marble and with plenty of big white fluffy towels and robes and slippers provided.

As one would expect of a hotel of this calibre, the room has a full service during the day and a turndown and mini service with perfunctory chocolates on pillow in the evenings. I have always found the rooms to be spotlessly clean, I remember there was one occasion when I returned from the office to find my room not serviced, but this was my fault as I had accidentally left the privacy button on. One call to reception and somebody was there within minutes to rectify my mistake. This is so typical of the service in this hotel.

As I was in New York by myself whenever I stayed at the Palace, I would sometimes opt for a room service dinner. The in-room service is available 24 hours a day and there is a wide selection of meals available. I tended to go for salads or sandwiches and even these were served with a flourish; big trays, white linen, iced water, bread rolls and heavy silver cutlery. The price would soon add up though as even these basic meals I went for would be a good $30 and that is before service and delivery. Although I was on expenses, I drew the line at having breakfast in the hotel, I once contemplated ordering a bowl of cornflakes and glass of orange juice but $35 was just silly money and I object to that on principle. With so many delis in New York it was easier and cheaper to grab something to eat on the walk to the office.

Other dining options include a formal restaurant called Gilt, which holds two Michelin stars and looks fantabulous, but sadly I have not tried it myself. I have visited Istana the lobby brasserie, although my most recent experience of this was last year when I was not actually staying at the hotel but wanted to show my husband my favourite NY hotel. Service really let the side down this time and we gave up and walked out in the end without ever getting to place an order, despite our repeated attempts. This is my only experience of bad service in the many times I have visited, but what a let down.

Overall, I look back to the era when I was a regular visitor to the New York Palace with great fondness. I have made several personal visits to New York since then and would have loved to have brought my husband here, but sadly the $700 - $800 price tag for a standard room was a little prohibitive. If you have the budget, then I highly recommend it.
The New York Palace
455 MADISON AVENUE AT 50TH ST
New York, New York, 10022
212 888 7000

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