Landmark Metropolitan Hotel now a Doubletree

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NEW YORK -- A landmark hotel in Manhattan, noted for its edgy take on the Art Deco architectural style and handy location smack in the middle of the Big Apple, is handing out cookies these days to everyone who checks in.

With new owners and a $40 million facelift, the Metropolitan Hotel is now operated by Doubletree -- naturally.

The property, at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, was built by the Tisch family in 1961, but the site was already famous -- after a fashion. The Loews Theater previously stood there, and Marilyn Monroes flying-skirt scene for the 1955 Seven-Year Itch movie was shot in front of the theater.

Then came the hotel, designed by Modernist architect Morris Lapidus, already known for the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc in Miamis South Beach. When it opened as the Summit, playwright Noel Coward and actress Judy Garland were among those in attendance.

Fast forward to 2005: Joint-venture partners Rockwood Capital, Goldman Sachs Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds, Highgate Holdings and Oxford Capital Group/Oxford Lodging Group have purchased the property from the Tisch family and organized a redesign meant to recapture the architects sensitivities with a retro-chic look in the public spaces and guest rooms.

Now the Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel New York City, it has 755 rooms, more than an observer might guess from across the street. Also, from the outside, it doesnt look much like the average persons idea of Art Deco either (the nearby Chrysler Building fills that bill).

The front looks like a wave standing on its side. That wasnt just for looks, said Ron Drake, vice president of sales and marketing; the design allowed space for two additional rooms per floor.

Now, those rooms sport all-new amenities designed for the frequent business or leisure traveler. These include wireless and wired high-speed Internet access, 24-inch flat-screen Zenith LCD television, cordless telephone -- plus an ergonomic chair and in-room safe that accommodates the laptop.

Velvet chaise lounges provide additional seating, and bathrooms were redesigned in slate and limestone.

Designers emphasized sleek lines, lots of wood and earth tones in the modern, spacious lobby.

The Met, a new lounge and bar at the Doubletree Metropolitan, is every bit as cool and sleek as the hotelNext to the lobby on one side is the new Met Grill, a 70-seat eatery serving three meals a day (supplemented by room service 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Also off the lobby is the Met, a new lounge and bar, every bit as cool and sleek as the lobby, and more so; it serves continental breakfast and afternoon tea, as well.

With only a 70-person dining space and the small bar, the Doubletree Metropolitan is really a rooms hotel, not big on food and beverage, Drake said.

The 14 meetings and event spaces, totally remodeled in the recent upgrade, include the penthouse with glass-enclosed atrium and outdoor terraces. Facilities also include a fitness room and business center.

The Metropolitan is Doubletrees largest hotel in Manhattan. For more information or reservations, call (800) 222-TREE.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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