The Tuscany New York
120-130 East 39th St., 212-686-1600, 1-888-406-8588, tuscany.stgilesnewyork.com; 124 studios and loft suites from $495 (U.S).
Arrive unreasonably early at most hotels and front-desk staff will give you a strained smile and the bum's rush: Leave your luggage but come back later, a lot later. Our unreasonably early arrival at the Tuscany, a St. Giles luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan, however, was taken in stride – fruit-infused water is offered, jokes are shared with the doorman and the genial front-desk staff make us feel at home before we've even signed the register.
Formerly a W hotel (there's been a hotel in this building since the 1950s), the Tuscany has gone through a multimillion-dollar reno and reopened as the luxury sister to the Court, another St. Giles hotel just three doors down. The rooms are large and plush, with most rooms bigger than some NYC apartments, at about 450 square feet. Both properties are the first foray into North America by the growing London-based chain that specializes in urban hotels with killer locations.
What you'll love about the Tuscany is its unpretentiousness and homey feel (homey if you stock Molton Brown lotions in your bathroom, watch a 46-inch HD flatscreen in your bedroom and describe your decor as "contemporary New York pied-à-terre"). But the real beauty of this four-star hotel is its central residential location. You're in Midtown Manhattan, tantalizingly close to landmarks such as Grand Central Station (two blocks away), Times Square and Broadway (five blocks away), the Chrysler Building (a four-minute walk) and so on, and yet the tree-lined streets of Murray Hill take the edge off the big city. It's hard not to feel like a local as you wander through the affluent neighbourhood of (relatively) low-rise buildings.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
Gaze upon the art-deco wonder of the Chrysler Building from rooms facing north starting on the seventh floor. Empire State Building views can be had from the 10th floor if you're facing south. Eventually you'll be able to book the 17th-floor penthouse (ready later this year) and see both landmarks from its wraparound terrace.
Aside from the location, it's got to be the ample-sized gym on the second floor. A windowed ceiling offers plenty of natural light, and free headphones are provided to plug into the dozen or so cardio machines. Mats, balls and free weights round out the workout, and there are plans to build an adjoining sauna. Second-best amenity? The full-size iron and ironing board in every room – which came in handy after an impromptu theatre ticket purchase meant we had to look presentable.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
More soundproofing would be nice. Eventually, you want to tune out New York's aural landscape, but that's hard if your room faces the street, your neighbour likes rap music past midnight and high heels pace the hardwood floor above you. At least the entry hall (built into every Tuscany room) dulls any late-night clodding down the corridor, but I'm glad I brought ear plugs.
EAT IN OR OUT?
Eat out, at least until the Tuscany's restaurant opens later this year. À la carte breakfast is available in the lobby, but wander three doors down to the Tuscany's sister hotel, the Court, for a much more reasonable $15 buffet of exactly the same foods (and more). For dinner, the young hip staff will cheerfully recommend good places.
WHOM YOU'LL MEET
When you redeem the free drink ticket you received at check-in, head down to the lobby bar later at night. Since it opens onto the street, you'll likely rub shoulders with a few well-dressed locals on their first stop of the evening – Murray Hill is full of pretty young things. Your fellow guests are smug, savvy leisure and business travellers pleased to have discovered this little known Midtown marvel.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.