Hotel insider A delightful alternative to Manhattan's try-hard hotels.
The City Club, New York
No pressure. There was nobody in the lobby trying to be cool or trendy. In fact, there was nobody in the lobby at all apart from the man checking me in, and that is just how the owner Jeff Klein wants it. When designing the mood of the hotel he planned what he called an "anti-lobby". He did not want a scene, he did not want DJs spinning records, he did not want people hanging around trying to look hip and pretending they were staying there.
Slap bang in the centre of Midtown, Manhattan. The City Club is on West 44th Street, within easy walking distance of Broadway's theatres, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre. The hotel is between 5th and 6th Avenues, a dream location for shopaholics. Nearby are the New York Yacht Club and the Penn Club, and Central Park West if you fancy some fresh air.
Jeff Klein knows a thing or two about service. He is one of New York's socialites and is also a passionate hotelier in New York and in Los Angeles. He has successfully brought back from the grave the tradition of elegant hotel service and given it a modern twist. Things work like clockwork, staff are chic, intelligent and well-dressed, and the entire mood is one of smart confidence. They let you get on with your stay.
There are only 65 in this nine-storey hotel, which makes it one of the smallest and most intimate in Manhattan. Dark wood floors are overlaid by champagne rugs, some of the furniture is Honduran mahogany, and there are cute window seats in some rooms. Guests can bathe in CO Bigelow bath products, laze on the Frette linen sheets and play with their in-room iHome stereos. I had given up in-room snacks, but when I discovered that the City Club offered Dean & Deluca goodies, I had a relapse.
About complimentary membership to the New York Sports Club and the immense benefit of discounted parking right across the street. The concierge was also able to give me a potted history of the hotel, which used to be a private club - the City Club - whose guests were politicians of both persuasions who met here to discuss the issues of the day.
The City Club is frequented by those setting trends rather than following them, whether it is design, fashion, music, food or politics. Located just off the lobby (sorry, "anti-lobby") is the fabulous restaurant, DB Bistro Moderne, which has two rooms which are lined with striking artworks. Hit the front room for a casual meal with friends, or retire to the back for a deep-and-meaningful experience with your beloved.
The chocolate-coloured marble in my bathroom, and the CO Bigelow products, all of which, I confess, I stole. I spent a relaxing afternoon hiding in the reading nook near the front door, deep in a Man Ray photography book. Some bedrooms have old vinyl records mounted in glass wall cabinets, which look down on new iHome stereos - a clear reminder of the march of progress.
Not being able to stay in one of the three amazing Grand Duplex suites which all have balconies. One word of warning to claustrophobes - the smallest rooms (known as "Petites") are just that, so splash out on a Queen or King Luxe so you can breathe easy.
A delightful alternative to Manhattan's try-hard hotels. No DJs, no fake scene - just subtle and stylish decor, polished service and exquisite food. The City Club 55 West 44th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York 10036, USA Tel: +1 212 921 5500 www.cityclubhotel.com Doubles from Dh900