It pays in real estate, they say, to be in the worst house in the best neighborhood. When it comes to towers in Manhattan, though, it pays to be the tallest building in a shorter neighborhood as that’s what gets you the best views. At least that’s how we felt waking up the other morning at the Ritz Carlton New York Nomad, our latest selection for Room Key.
The property is located on Broadway and West 28th Street at what are the foothills of the towers of Midtown Manhattan. The 50-story edifice was designed by Rafael Viñoly, who passed earlier this month and was best known for the supertall 432 Park Avenue and “the Walkie Talkie” in London. As one of the tallest buildings in NoMad, it has uninterrupted views stretching the lengths of Lower Manhattan on one side and on the other, of the start to the steep rise of the island’s central soaring towers.
The first thing one notices upon walking through its flower-laden entrance hallway and on into the lobby is the silence. The check-in area is low-key, decorated with panels of dark wood with only the glimpses of the bar at the end of the lounge on one end and of the restaurant Zaytinya on the other that the hotel is not as somber as it first might appear.
Luxury hotel groups have all been rapidly expanding over the last year and they’ve typically gone in one of two directions. One is the sort of luxury rehab aesthetic with subdued tones: lots of pale woods, with the only bit of pizzazz being a textured wall or one elaborate piece in the room. On the other end is the sort subjugation of the viewer by a more-is-more Baz Luhrmann-style decor. Here, the folks at Ritz Carlton wanted this property to look different than a typical Ritz Carlton, to represent the next generation of luxury travelers. As a result, they’ve decided to have it both ways. The rooms and suites, 219 in total starting at $895 a night, are the first style–sober and uncluttered, letting the large views of New York’s skyline do most of the work. The bathrooms, carpeted in terrazzo on floors and walls, bring the flair here.
At the top of the hotel, though, is a whole other world.
José Andrés, the superstar chef whose geopolitical work has made him as famous as his ever-growing roster of restaurants, is the man behind the culinary offerings at the hotel. He did the Club Lounge (a more intimate experience than most Ritz club levels) and the soon to be opened Bazaar, which will be a Spanish-meets-Japan experience. On the hotel’s first floor, he has also opened the second outpost of Zaytinya, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in a beautiful space evocative of that region designed by Rockwell Group. But at the top one finds Nubeluz, a jewel box in the sky designed to the max by Martin Brudnitski. Heavily sought-after these days for 270-degree sunset views, the bar is bathed in emerald green with a central bar of illuminated onyx and booths with backsplashes of peacock feathers.
Last, but certainly not the least, is the hotel’s spa. This is far from an afterthought here, as they can so often be, but a central part of the experience. Mesmerizing floss of Cipollino Ondulato marble greets you when you first enter and all guests have access to the steam and sauna facilities. We indulged in the Method Facial and, armed with a new face, took on the city.