The quest for best hotels in New York City isn’t easy, especially when you have about more than 700 options around. And it gets even harder when it’s your first time in Big Apple, which can be overwhelming but a possibility for so many new experiences. Some trendy non-touristy, some sit in the heart of it all. Some you stay at for the scene, others ideal for not being seen at all. But the common denominator among them? They’re all, well, cool. Because it’s New York City and there’s no denying to how people and places here define the trends for hotels worldwide. Its hospitality here that is haute.
I had always romanticised New York City, thanks to Gossip Girl and any other drama-show based in the town and so for me first time being in there was special: first summer abroad, studying filmmaking and in the centre of it all – finding myself weekending on the Fifth Avenue at The Langham, before even my classes kick off, was just a perfect warmup to New York. The ornery, enduring truth about New York is that it’s all always right here — the talent, the beauty, the energy, the vitality, the smarts, the grit and the peerless cinematic backdrop – “the only city which in reality looks better than on the postcards,” but it’s about how well you can absorb and take it in. And well, The Langham was just the right spot for it. To absorb the piercing skyline and the haute stilettos you notice crossing the Bryant Park. Keep your eyes open, because all it needs is a focus and a frame to know you’re in the right place and at the right time in New York.
Set on New York’s favourite Fifth Avenue, which happens to be the most happening place, The Langham is located in Midtown Manhattan, between Bryant Park and the Empire State Building, featuring 234 luxury rooms, range of recreational facilities and an award winning French and Italian Riviera inspired restaurant Ai Fiori.
I walked into an open lobby, a large mural behind the reception desk clutched my attention. Beautifully crafted six abstract portraits that form one art piece reflected natural sunlight against beige and navy tones — muted pastels added to a space that was expansive on a grand scale and maturely stride the line between achingly hip and just plain cool.
The swift check-in, even when the hotel is almost full, had to be a highlight, because it was literally so convenient and hassle-free.
At this point, as soon as I was handed the key to my Executive Club Room, all I could think of was changing into my shorts and heading to explore the city. However, as I entered my room, I realised the thought of heading out from this space instantly needed to be put on hold.
The contemporary, modern room, much to my surprise, was lavishly spacious and at my disposal for the entire weekend; naturally, it seemed like the right thing to absorb the place completely before actually looking for other amenities at the hotel. Warm lighting, shades of beige, in-room workstation, a little seating area to invite some friends over, the city view, to look out over the busy streets of New York spotting some fashion and the tip of Empire State Building, a kitchenette installed with coffee/tea machine, a bed that simply hugs your body as you sink into oblivion, and a restroom with a modern, solid-base, freestanding tub, which is great for relaxation with a luxurious spa feel — in short, the room was actually a cute apartment that offered the luxury of just staying in with the views of New York City which itself is expensive in every sense.
It was cosy and filled with sweet details, including the chocolate boxes and a pastry for a warm welcome, handwritten note, placed on the workstation ‘Dear Asad, Welcome to The Langham, New York! We are so happy to have you as our guest. I hope you enjoy your stay with us.’
So, then I got my robe on, put my feet up in the comfortable cotton slippers as my bath tub filled with bubbles and I got my recent read out of my luggage because it was a break, at last! I felt refreshed, and the sun was almost set as I head for the evening drinks and canapes at The Langham Club while waiting for my friend to join me for dinner later. The facility is exclusively available to guests staying in one of the Club Rooms or Suites and, I must say, it was worth my upgradation. It has a calm ambience, dim lighting and lives and breathes an absolute vibe of fine dining. It’s a perfect lounge for some family bonding.
For dinner, I opted for Ai Fiori, an award winning restaurant offering some exquisite French and Italian delicacies that has also introduced some new authentic dishes to the menu. With so many people vacationing in Italy on my social media, but gone are the days where you have to buy a plane ticket to visit the Italian Riviera and Paris in order to enjoy the wondrous Italian and French cuisine. And so I thought why not also be part of the experience, whilst sitting right here in New York? A city so inclusive. Everyone who’s into Italian and French food will recommend authentic places to you in New York that doesn’t involve too much fusion of cuisines and here’s why I am at Ai Fiori: it’s fantastic.
Spaghetti (blue crab, lemon, bottarga, calabrian chiles) was truly a great starter to begin the meal. The crab was so delectable and lightly seasoned that, for someone who’s not a huge seafood fan, it was a tasty palate-changing moment. One can figure how it was cooked slowly to make it really tender and grilled to give it charred crispy edges.
As I sipped my sparkling water with lemon waiting for my main: Pesce Spada (grilled swordfish, fava beans, ramps bagna cauda), I noticed the detailing of the beige and muted interior, the beautiful wicker lighting and the open bar that’s quintessentially true to the strand the restaurant follows.
Not only was the flavour off the charts of sword fish, it was also such a healthy dish. The well marinated fish with onions and peppers along with herbs and spices does it for me —all crunchy and nicely coloured.
I called it a night post dinner, and head back to my room looking forward to the next morning.
The comfort of bed made me late for breakfast but morning carbs are essential for me and so I began my day with a delectable breakfast at the Club: carrot juice and full English breakfast including omelette with cheese, onions and chillis with baked beans and chicken sausages. A kind of hearty breakfast that I’d have in the comfort of my home.
With looking forward to a shopping spree and a walk to Bryant Park and Rockerfeller – my day’s been all about sun tanning, getting the right dosage of summer warmth and Vitamin D.
A chilled out weekend in New York is hard to find and manifest. If you’ve been to the city you’d know. So, in respect of that I called it a night, snuggled in my bed with laptop on running the new episode of Gossip Girl reboot, a franchise I have been profoundly fond of.
Signing off from my staycation at The Langham New York, everyone can agree on one thing, tans fade, highlights go dark and we all get sick of sand in our shoes. But the end of a staycation is the beginning of a new season. Bisou Bisou.
If you’re planning for a summer in New York, The Langham New York is a place to stay and experience.