x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hotel Insider: The Conrad New York

An affordable hotel, which is part of the Hilton group, with a fine view of Manhattan.

The Loopy Doopy Bar at Conrad New York. Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotels
The Loopy Doopy Bar at Conrad New York. Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotels

The welcome

The Conrad opened last year after Hilton ripped out the inside of the dated Embassy Suites hotel that stood in its place and started from scratch. You can't help but gawp as you ride the escalator to the first-floor marble lobby to be confronted by two striking artworks: Sol LeWitt's 13-storey high painting Loopy Doopy and Monica Ponce de Leon's giant Veils sculpture dangling 15 storeys from the ceiling, its harp-like steel wires and angular light tubes lifting this from your average business hotel and surrounding a light-filled communal area in cool grey tones.

The neighbourhood

Battery Park City was built on reclaimed land on Manhattan's Lower West Side from the rubble excavated in the construction of the former World Trade Center.

It's an underrated part of New York, perhaps because it lacks the buzz of midtown Manhattan, but that works in your favour in its pricing, about a third of what you would pay for a five-star hotel in the heart of the city, while Times Square is only a 15-minute subway ride away.

The starkly sombre reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial and its soon-to-be-opened museum are a five-minute walk away. Also within striking distance are the ferry station for Liberty Island, as well as Wall Street, Tribeca and the Meatpacking District.

The room

Cleverly designed to feel more like an apartment than a hotel bedroom with a separate lounge. I want to cart the signature Conrad mattress home after sinking into the super-soft cotton Down Dreams bedding, complete with a multitude of cloud-like pillows.

The scene

Quiet and understated, this is yet to become a neighbourhood with a lively nighttime vibe. It is growing, however, with the opening of several Danny Meyer restaurants, including Blue Smoke and North End Grill next door.

The hotel's newly opened Loopy Doopy rooftop bar offers fabulous views of the Statue of Liberty and is a great place to watch a Manhattan sunset over the Hudson.

The service

Outstanding. Staff bend over backwards to accommodate every demand, from Rachid our Moroccan room attendant, who takes just five minutes to reappear with armfuls of hangers after I ask for 12 extra, to Beth on reception, who remembers me admiring the clock in the gym and researches the manufacturer's name before I check out.

The food

Breakfast in Atrio is a sumptuous treat serving the best New York fare: oven-baked eggs, multigrain waffles piled high with raspberries, and granola and ricotta hot cakes.Dinner in the same venue is a disappointing affair. My crispy black kale comes in a cereal bowl swimming in balsamic vinegar; there are few vegetarian options; and, we cannot finish our bland mains - sickly-sweet stonefired pizza with caramelised onions, potato and gorgonzola ($21 [Dh77]) and Chatham cod with Manila clams and toasted fregola ($31 [Dh114]).

Loved

The service with a (genuine) smile and the excellent gift shop.

Hated

The off-putting ground floor entrance, which belies the quirky interior, and the lifts which beep loudly at every floor.

The verdict

A sleek business hotel with a difference in an up-and-coming district. The Conrad Dubai opens later this year, followed by one in Doha, and if their New York cousin is anything to go by, the personal touch and design flourishes should draw an eclectic crowd.

The bottom line

Double rooms start from $319 (Dh1,172) per night, including taxes and breakfast. Conrad New York, 102 North End Avenue (www.conradnewyork.com; 001 212 945 0100).

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