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LUXURY HOTELS: The Peninsula New York, New York, USA

Style: Old Gotham glam meets modern Asia
Scene: Busy midtown Manhattan
Seen in the Lobby: Eastern European fur set and late-career Rock Stars
SCUTTLING PAST the red-carpet entrance of The Peninsula in mid-town Manhattan has always invoked a sort of reverence. Even New Yorkers feel moved to point it out - "That's The Peninsula," they murmur as we pass. Much of the in-your-face magnificence of the The Peninsula's ornately carved marble and columns might be strangled by the narrowness of 55th Street which it fronts, but it has a certain wonder as if symbolic of a golden time in New York when design, manners and literary giants were iconic.

salon de ning   west terrace, peninsula ny
salon de ning   west terrace, peninsula ny
suite   peninsula suite bedroom
swimming pool   peninusla ny
fives restaurant peninsula ny
grand suite living room
spa peninusla ny

Recently, its status has been doubly reaffirmed with its AAA Five-Diamond and Five Star rating, fending off the rash of boutique and designer hotel openings snapping at its heels. With more than 100 years of varying operations tucked beneath its dainty belt, it beckoned a stay to experience how things were holding up on the inside.
The Peninsula has undergone refurbishments. Certainly, the new scheme of silvery blues, greens and wheat is a kinder palette than the former mustard and autumn tones, but privately, I long to have seen the The Peninsula when it originally opened as The Gotham Hotel in 1905.
There are also two new public spaces - the rooftop bar Salon De Ning and the Spa are both The Peninsula hotel signatures and can be found in a number of the group's hotels and both land themselves in the Oriental roots of the The Peninsula's Hong Kong-based parent company. As separate entities, these new spaces in The Peninsula NYC are truly fabulous. The Spa, designed by ESPA, (one of only two Five Star rated spas in New York) is a warm wood cocoon with inserts of bronze and 24 carat gold tile. You're advised to arrive at least half an hour before treatment. Preparation involves sipping on an offering from the Asian Tea Lounge before having a eucalyptus steam and sauna followed by a pat down with ice. Inside the women's change rooms the pampering continues with everything from water and fruit to a swimsuit dryer on standby.
I am asked whether I want to use the fully-equipped gym on the floor above. A sloth by nature I confess I haven't bought any gear. I almost don't get out of it: a kindly spa attendant points to shelves filled with a supply of gym gear in three sizes. A sign of a true five star hotel, yes, they even supply the gear. I make more excuses and slink away from this ambient temple of well-being up the wide spiral staircase. On a mezzanine level I pass a sign discreetly announcing a hair salon before stepping into the lift up to the pool and gym area.
...the RED CARPET entrance of The Peninsula in mid-town Manhattan has always invoked a sort of REVERENCE. Even New Yorkers feel compelled to point it out.

Of course, I haven't come to the pool area to swim. No, I have come here because the view is magnificent. Here the horizons do a long sweep through Fifth Avenue - both Upper East and Downtown. The pool itself is a less grand affair. At 42 feet (13 meters) you can't imagine anyone doing serious laps. Who cares when you can order up an Express Bento Box of Japanese delicacies and pretend you're healthy.

Salon De Ning, positioned a couple of floors below the pool area, offers similarly magnificent Fifth Avenue views. Tonight's Bar Manager, Ron, is positively wistful when he describes how the distant skyline to the north lights up when a game is playing at Yankee Stadium. The interior of the Salon is divinely decked out in dark wood, striped silks and brocades. It spills over to an open terrace, where even now on a cold winter's night, patrons - an eclectic chic mix of hotel guests and native New Yorkers - are sipping on a cool selection of cocktails. Most popular right now is the Passion Martini (Grey Goose L'Orange, Crème de Peche, Fresh Passion, Orange and Cranberry Juice). A stream of Asian inspired shared plates can also be sampled such as Smoked Salmon Tartare, Sesame, Shitake Mushrooms, Scallions and Crisp Wonton Chips or Chilled Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Thai Curry Aioli.

Down just above lobby level in Fives, the main hotel restaurant, Asian flavours - including a traditional Japanese breakfast - are now being sprinkled through the traditional all-American menu. The breakfast specialty of the moment is Poached Eggs with Lobster and Crab Hash and Truffle Hollandaise, but you sense that they'd just as happily throw in some noodles if you so desired. This sort of discreet no-questions-asked service is ultimately what is the signature of the The Peninsula.

With pillbox hat and white uniformed bellhops on the march through Manhattan to collect your whims, and the hotel's timeless tradition of in-house pet stay, the excellence of the hotel's ability to meet your needs is never-need-to-lift-a-finger clear.

Check in: The Peninsula New York, 700 Fifth Avenue at 55th, New York, NY 10019, USA. Tel + 1 212 903 3949
Ultimate Luxury: Baths come with built-in flatscreens - sip on champagne and soak in a favourite movie.
Most Indulgent Moment: Peninsula full-day Spa Retreat.
Insider Secrets: The baths in the South West corner Junior Suites have incredible views of downtown Fifth Avenue.
The Little Things: The daily 'Inspirations' news sheet that gives a rundown of happenings in the city and in-hotel activities. The by-your-door outdoor temperature reading. We love that there is loose leaf tea when you order the Peninsula Afternoon Tea. We're sad that it's only a tea bag if you're ordering just one cup.
Junior Luxies: Ask about the Junior Academy which has activities such as a Kids in the Kitchen Program.
Dress code: Euro designer label. Don't think comfort, think heels.
Perfect luggage: Anything from the LV range should theme you in.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.peninsula.com/
Prue Rushton 29/3/10
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