Gansevoort Park Avenue — where history and glitz meet in Gotham.
By Anne Kim-Dannibale
Tucked away in the “NoMad” (north of Madison) district, the Gansevoort’s second Big Apple outpost (its flagship is located in the Meatpacking district) provides a chic and hip home base for exploring a vibrant and historic area. Built in 2010, it features 20 floors of oversized rooms and every amenity for an urban playground, from a heated indoor/outdoor pool, a tri-level rooftop with an impressive view of the Empire State Building, spa, sauna, salon and a world-class fitness center.
You can’t go wrong with any of the 249 guest rooms, especially when they average 475 square feet with vaulted ceilings (some with balconies and bay windows), oversized soaking tubs, double sink vanities and separate glass showers — rare finds for accommodations in New York City. Should you require a bit more elbow room, the hotel also offers 36 suites and a Presidential Suite. All standard rooms feature modern amenities, feather beds (hypoallergenic options are also available), goose down pillows (monogrammed for extra special guests) and 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets in a bold, modern décor highlighted by Deborah Anderson’s photographs. Be forewarned, however, as doors tend to slam and the walls in guest rooms are a bit thin. Ask for an interior room with traditional city views on the 10th-14th floors away from the elevators and the pool-top nightclub, which can be loud.
Asellina, the trattoria run by One Group (owners of Washington, D.C.’s hip steakhouse STK) is connected to the hotel via a hallway and offers modern Italian fare in a warm and welcoming atmosphere of natural wood and glass. Snag one of the tables in the living room lounge on warmer days when the front wall is opened up — an ideal spot to catch up with friends over wine and cheese. Weekend nights employ a deejay spinning a mix of clubby hits that make it impossible to converse with your dinner partner. The pasta dishes ($18-$28, gluten-free options available) left us yearning for nonna’s home-cooked meals, but the grilled 10-ounce tagliata ($36) was perfectly medium rare and brought back memories of Florence.
Across the street, Sarabeth’s provides a bustling spot to soak up some local atmosphere and top-notch brunch, while gourmands will be happy to know that some of the country’s best restaurants — including Eleven Madison Park — are located just around the corner.
The hotel is located in the heart of the NoMad neighborhood, right in the center of plenty of action. Post up in nearby Gramercy Park to people-watch or grab a Shake Shack burger while you contemplate the historical figures memorialized in bronze there. Walk off those extra calories with a 90-minute to two-hour tour of the neighborhood led by mustachioed historian Lee Gelber (Top Hat Lux Tours and Here Is New York), which includes stops at Edith Wharton’s residence, the old toy factory building and banner-decorated Marble Collegiate church where many celebrities — including Liza Minelli and David Guest — were married. On non-holiday weekdays, you may be able to snag a peek inside the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division building with its gilded classical architecture and statuary. The real standout, however, is the Church of the Transfiguration, or more affectionately known as the Little Church Around the Corner on East 29th Street. A mostly wooden structure built in the mid-1800s, it has a storied past of catering to actors and a jewel-box of a nave with some truly excellent woodwork. A two-hour tour costs $250; $350 for three hours.
Exhale Spa provides an extensive menu of massages and facials to soothe tired limbs after a long day of exploring. The hour-long, full-body Swedish-style Fusion Massage ($135/60 minutes) is a good introduction to the talents of the spa’s experienced staff, though some treatment rooms could be soundproofed better. If absolute silence is required, ask for a more serene room.
The heated indoor/outdoor pool and sundeck allow guests to lounge in the shadow of the Empire State Building on the hotel’s tri-level rooftop, which forms a secluded oasis in a concrete jungle.
Fitness junkies can also get their sweat on in several “core fusion” classes that incorporate yoga, barre and cardio that emphasize the body’s core strength.
Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC, 420 Park Avenue South at 29th Street, New York, New York, 10016. 212-317-2900. Standard rooms start at $395, suites start at $725. Duplex penthouse starts at $7,500.