The best feature of this hotel is its location, overlooking Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. The hotel also has a rear entrance backing on to the street behind. It is a very tall but not overly wide building. It towers probably twice the height of the neighbouring Plaza Hotel. I called in to the hotel about 2pm on the day of arrival. The registration and cashier desks are separate although diagonally opposite. Both areas are quite small which makes the reception area generally look as though the check-in and check-out process is rather incidental. Most hotels make a feature of their lobby area with a long and busy reception area. The lobby is not overly large and not all that elaborate. I cruised up to the Registration desk and asked if they had my reservation, which was only made that morning. The attendant at Registration had no record of it so indicated she would check with Reservations which was in an area behind Registration. After a minute or so she returned to say the Reservations attendant was at lunch and would not be back for 5 or 10 minutes. She said the reservation had come through as she could see it on the Reservation attendants screen. She suggested I come back at 3 o'clock. Not the best welcome or handling of a check-in, nor of a guests first impressions of a hotel.
At 3pm promptly I returned and there was a different reception attendant who immediately tracked my reservation and welcomed me to the hotel. Check-in was brisk, a bell on the desk was rung and a bellman appeared immediately to take my luggage, whilst I was directed to the lift bank (6 lifts) and the 12th floor to Room 1208.
I was met at the door by the same bellman, who showed me over the room and facilities. He also pointed out there was a small refrigerator in the bathroom and a convenience store was just a few meters from the back entrance of the hotel. The room itself was average in size for a deluxe hotel with Edwardian styled furniture done in rich blue and yellow colors. All the soft furnishings, bed coverings and bed head, drapes and furniture upholstery were all in the same material. Four modern prints decorated the walls which were covered in good quality beige wallpaper. The king size bed had two very large chests to each side, each with two large drawers and replica-marbel tabeltops. A large, rather elaborate glass lamp adorned each one. On one of the tables was a stack of loose leaf note papers, a pen and a phone, whilst on the other there was a digital clock radio. The clock radio was fixed and facing outwards so it wasn't a great deal of use if lying in bed. It is also fixed on the other side of the lamp so is about 3 feet from the bed (not easily manouvered). Alongside one of the walls there was this quite extensive cabinet, about 9 feet in length which contains 3 separate components of drawers. A marbel coated timber top adorns the top with a magnificent framed mirror standing watch. There is also a very large decorative lamp on one end of the structure. There is an electric shoe buffing machine in the room for shining shoes, an unusual and welcoming feature. A work desk faced another wall with a mirror facing the desk. A good sized desk, again with the marble type finished top (actual component being timber). There was a lamp, a hotel compendium and a phone. The phone however did not have a cord. I telephoned the operator to report this as I needed that phone connected so as to work from the desk. The phone by the bed had a connecting lead, as did a phone in the bathroom, however it is difficult to work from either of those locations. Within 5 minutes a handyman appeared who immediately supplied a connecting lead. In the corner of the room was a free standing TV and nearby were two richly upholstered Edcwardian armchairs with a good size table ('marbel' top) and lamp. On the wall opposite the large cabinet was a huge window with elaborate drapes. The view was of other buildings, mainly the rear of buildings, and was not exciting. Many of the rooms facing Central Park, if the windows are the same as this room, would have magnificent panoramic views of the Park.
The bathroom was a good size with full size bath and shower (combined), the already mentioned fridge and wallphone, a hairdryer, toilet and a good sized bench with basin. There was more than enough bench space and the usual guest amenities. There was also a large drawer to one side which included additional amenities. A double-sided vanity mirror came out from the wall, one side being a magnifying mirror. The vanity mirrow and the main bathroom mirrow were both non-steam mirrors. There was also a stool under the bench. The lighting in the bathroom, and in the bedroom, was excellent. The bath towels were oversized and embroided.
The wardrobe, near the entrance to the room was quite large and contained an iron and an ironing board as well as a safe. To open and close the safe door you simply swiped one of your credit cards. Once swiped only your credit card could reopen the safe. Another unusual but nifty feature, unless of course the valuables you want to lock away include your credit cards.
In the evening the hotel provided a turndown service.
At night I ventured down to Harry's Bar on the second floor. This watering hole has a popular reputation, although the numbers on the night I called were not that great. The decor was fine and the atmosphere good, as was the service. Nearby is The Park Room Restaurant, a fine dining room furnished in a splendid manner, reminiscent of another time. The menu was extensive with my choice being the crusted lamb chops and garden vegetables. The restaurant also specialises in seafood and had an excellent array of fish dishes. The restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
I later took a tour of the fitness center located on the 'C' level. State of the art Cybex machines, treadmills, bikes, mountain climbers and free weights were provided, and the center was open 24 hours a day and is complimentary. There are restrooms but no dressing rooms.
The hotel has a newsstand and gift shop which seemed to be open all the time although I'm sure its not. A nearby convenience store, full concierge, beauty salon, multi-lingual staff and on-site parking. Neighbouring the hotel is Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Atlas, a restaurant with French cuise and British accents (the chef is British).
If visitng the hotel and you like Indian food there is a great Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant immediately adjacent to the hotel facing Central park called Nirvana on Rooftop. There is a Maharahjar standing out the front of what appears to be a residential building. There are no elaborate signs. You just go up to him and you will be directed to a lift at the back, and then sent to the penthouse of the building. At the top you are greeted again by a costumed concierge and then you are in the hands of the waiting staff and taken to this magical room overlooking Central Park and the lights of New York City. The wide panoramic windows and the candlelit tables with the NYC and Central Park background is a sight to behold. And the food, the menu, presentation and quality is absolutely first class, although not inexpensive. The restaurant was a real find and touched off the stay at the Helmsley Park Lane.
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