There is a difference between expensive and luxurious, as anyone who has spent a pricey but disappointing weekend in New York knows.
Fortunately, this was not my experience during a recent weekend in Manhattan, which included overnights at the posh Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue; a spa treatment at Chuan Body + Soul; Michelin-starred dining; curated activities; and even a transfer to Boston aboard a fancy, tricked-out bus.
Going on the premise that a hotel can have you at hello, the 214-room Langham sets the tone right from the start with a lobby featuring works by Alex Katz, part of a multimillion-dollar permanent collection of the New York artist.
My deluxe room featured a massive bathroom, a sitting area, views of the city and a foyer with more distinctive art that enlivened the pared-down decor.
Those looking for even more glamour can book one of the two new 1,900-square-foot penthouse suites created by French design firm and retailer Roche Bobois. The suites are located on the hotel's 25th and 26th floors and feature individual designs, custom furnishings, artwork using materials from Maison Christian Lacroix, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the Empire State Building and gourmet kitchens with Miele appliances.
That first night we tackled the tasting menu at the on-property Ai Fiori
, a Michelin-starred restaurant from chef Michael White's Altamarea Group. Being a picky New Englander, I sampled first-rate lobster in several of my courses. You can forget your low-carb diet when faced with White's dizzying selection of handmade pastas.
For a less-formal dining experience, the Bar Fiori offers a full menu of craft cocktails, wines and beer along with a robust menu of a la carte dishes and snacks. Bartender Pete Stanton's collection of aperitifs, including a vintage Negroni, was a worthy accompaniment to such small-plate fare as lobster salad and caviar.
Of course, no one goes to New York to sit in their hotel all day, and with that in mind we took part in a carefully designed itinerary that showcased the part of the city where the hotel is located, the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 36th Street.
Sunrise at the nearby Empire State Building, a seasonal experience limited to 100 visitors a day for $100 per person, kicked off a day of sightseeing.
We also took part in a food, history and architecture tour of the Flatiron District and Union Square. Our guide from Like a Local Tour
company regaled us with anecdotes and historical details about everything from the history of Eataly NYC Flatiron — who knew it used to be a toy factory? — to the ultraslender Flatiron Building itself, which worried passers-by back in the day who feared it would fall over on them.
The trip ended with a chauffeured transfer via hotel Jaguar to the location of the LimoLiner
, an appealing alternative for passengers to and from New England who want to avoid the tribulations of Penn Station and LaGuardia Airport. Short of a private jet, the combo bus/limousine, which offers an onboard attendant serving hot and cold meals and drinks as well as movies and WiFi, is a contender.
Nightly rates begin at $400. See http://newyork.langhamplacehotels.com