Even though it’s the bit of Manhattan most visitors head to, historically, I’ve avoided Midtown. It’s busy, crowded, loud, bright… Like Bladerunner on too much cold-brewed coffee. So, the Iroquois Hotel, nestled in there between Times Square, Grand Central Station and the Diamond District was going to have a hard sell where I was concerned. Wouldn’t a hotel smack bang in the centre of Midtown be a bit, well, hectic? Not the gracious Iroquois. The moment the street door closed behind me, everything became much… more… relaxed. And quiet. We all know New York is the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t come near to describing it these days. However, the jolly Iroquois receptionist who greeted me looked so fresh she might have just started her shift, the foyer was blissfully serene and very quickly I was being whisked upstairs by the swift elevator to my 10th-floor suite.
Like water evaporating off a hot pan, any stress from being in such a mad city disappeared as I explored the two luxurious rooms. A comfy sofa, flatscreen TV, mini-bar, table-desk and chair all spread out on deep-pile carpet was in the first room; in the second, a quite frankly enormous bed with what surely must be an antique box-lid writing desk, large dresser and mirror, closet and bathroom with shower and bathtub, which had fully functioning water jets for that all-important pummelling soak after a long day. Ahhhh….Suite Parlor
This is a hostelry that knows the importance of detail. If you’ve stayed in a few hotels, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. The pen on the table-desk? Not some scratchy-nibbed, useless plastic thing, but a smooth, weighty, Parker-like writing tool. Likewise, the metal fittings in the rooms were gleaming brass, the wood furniture lacquered pieces of the sort you might have in your own home (if you could afford them!), towels were soft and fluffy, water was hot, the mini-bar was fully stocked with a good range of drinks and snacks, and the front desk answered immediately when I called it. The hotel information book was clear and to the point: I would find The New York Times outside my door in the morning; breakfast was served in the white-tableclothed Triomphe restaurant downstairs and, if I fancied a nightcap, Lantern’s Keep, a cosy bar at the back of the lobby, would be happy to suggest one of their carefully curated cocktails.
A tip: do eat breakfast at Triomphe. For a start, as it’s downstairs, it’s very easy. But just as important is that it’s a little quiet haven before you face the frenzy of another New York day. Smiling waiters bring you a beautiful plateful of eggs done any way you want them, or pancakes, waffles, an omelette, plenty of coffee or tea, juice – well, you get the idea. And you can sit reading your New York Times as long as you like. Unless, of course, you have business to attend to, in which case you may have booked one of the Iroquois’ well-equipped meeting rooms and arranged to have the private dining room to toast the deal in later.
If you can squeeze some time out of your schedule, definitely sign up for one of the six, 90-minute walking tours offered completely free to Iroquois guests. Each one focuses on a different neighbourhood and are friendly, jolly affairs. Continuing on my theme of getting to know this neighbourhood I had never warmed to before, I chose the Midtown Walk and I’m so glad I did. By the end, it felt like an old friend and I knew all sorts of new things, like, before the subway came Uptown in the 1920s, Times Square was just fields. Hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago it was still so bucolic!
At the end of a second frenetic New York day, I returned late to the Iroquois and it was very comforting to know there are 24-hour, recognisably liveried doormen here, with a well-lit entrance and front of building.
Suddenly, I got it: you can have all the convenience of being close to everything – businesses, transportation, and 5th Avenue (soooo essential for shopping, darling) a diamond’s throw away – but get all the comfort, quiet and sense of being taken care of in the old-school way at the historic Iroquois, a sanctuary of calm in the middle of all the craziness.
The Iroquois New York
49 West 44th Street
NYC, NY 10036
+1 212 840 3080
Maiden-voyage.com members receive a special offer of 10% off Best Available Rate, please use promo code MAIDEN when booking your reservation either by phone or online at www.iroquoisny.com. Members also receive a welcome amenity and a pair of Iroquois slippers during your stay (proof of membership is required)
Liz Granirer is a transplanted New Yorker who now lives in London. She works as a freelance journalist, writing for inflight magazines, parenting magazines and various websites, mostly on travel, restaurants and hotels, but also lifestyle, interviews and entertainment. You can follow her travels at lizgranirershelloworld.blogspot.co.uk