The lowdown If there were just one place in the world where haute bohemian chic meets old world grandeur, it is here at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. For nearly a century, artists, writers, musicians, actors (Humphrey Bogart got married here) have flocked to the GPH. Originally opened as a hotel in 1925 on the site of a townhouse where Edith Wharton was born, this is one of the most perfect and peaceful locations in the city. The hotel overlooks New York City’s only private park (be sure to ask the concierge to let you in) and is within an easy walk of the East and West Villages, Union Square and the shops and restaurants of Nolita. A brisk half hour walk and you are in the Meatpacking District.
As you enter the lobby (left) from Lexington Avenue, you are greeted by a heady scent – a heavenly Le Labo candle (created especially for GPH) burns in reception day and night. A huge glass chandelier hangs from the ceiling and 20th century masterpieces by the likes of Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol adorn the walls.
The rooms Each of the 185 rooms and suites are uniquely designed in rich colours - jade green, blue, deep pink - and feature original creations by Julian Schnabel and Maarten Baas. The rooms are total luxe and super cosy, with thick velvet drapes and throws, the most comfortable beds, studded armchairs and chests, hand-tufted rugs. And as you would expect, all 21st century mod cons are here too – a flat screen TV, iPod dock, superbly stocked mini bar.
Eating and drinking Situated on the ground floor, Maialino (Italian for suckling pig, a speciality and great to share between two or three) pulls in the crowds at all times of the day (book well in advance is our advice). It has the feel of a true, buzzy Roman-style trattoria with classic dishes featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is the perfect place for a lazy weekend brunch. The Gramercy Terrace, once an exclusive private club, is now (luckily for non-residents) open to the public. Perched on the 18th floor, this rooftop garden, which has a retracting glass roof, is an absolute haven, especially on a summer’s day. Head here for breakfast, a casual light lunch or while away a few hours at any time of the day with a cup of coffee and a good book. Be sure to check out more stunning works of art by Damien Hirst in the sitting room. The hotel’s two bars, The Rose Bar and the Jade Bar, are both uber popular NYC hangouts, where you can sip cocktails (try a lychee martini) until the small hours.
Out and about New York is a shopping mecca of course, but should you tire of trudging up and down the streets of Manhattan and are after a few designer bargains, get the concierge to book you a trip to Woodbury Common (NY's version of Bicester). Only an hour or so away, you'll get VIP treatment. Visit www.premiumoutlets.com
The details Three nights in New York with Virgin Holidays + Hip Hotels, including Virgin Atlantic flights and accommodation at Gramercy Park Hotel, on a room only basis, starts from £1,035. Prices are per person based on two adults travelling and sharing a superior room. Includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Prices are based on low season departures in 2011. Visit www.vhiphotels.co.uk or call and speak to a VHip Travel Guru on 0844 573 2460.
By Jeannette Arnold