For our most recent ever-so-brief New York visit (2 days, 1 night), we decided to try the Setai, based on TA reviews and a decent flash sale private website offer. The hotel was pleasant enough, but a bit overrated in my opinion, mostly due to inconsistent service. My brother also happened to be staying at the hotel, using the same flash sale but for a longer stay, so we were able to compare our experiences. His room was actually directly above ours.
First off, I would have to say this is not my favourite New York neighbourhood--5th Ave. between 36th and 37th. While such tourist sites as the Empire State Building, Macy's and Lord and Taylor are nearby, I prefer the sites and shops on or near 5th Ave. 15-25 blocks north-- Saks, Barneys, the Top of the Rock, MOMA. Bryant Park, the NY Public Library and the Morgan Library are also nearby. When we walked from the hotel toward Times Square to catch a play ("The Heiress"), we walked down a street (37th?) that had store after store of cheesy discount evening gowns.
The hotel itself is lovely, occupying the lower floors of a 57 story building designed by Gwathmey Siegel, who did the Guggenheim Museum's addition. This was one of Charles Gwathmey's last projects before his untimely passing. Perhaps most unique are the hotel's angular windows that open to let in a decent amount of fresh air. The lobby is more like a foyer, not really a space to sit and relax, but has some nice design touches, especially the curved stairway leading to the 2nd floor restaurant (A Fiori) and the pendulous teardrop-like sculpture in its centre. The Bar on Fifth, where one can sit and relax, is just beyond the lobby. The hotel has a flexible check-in/check-out policy, so when we arrived rather early after our red-eye flight, our room was ready. A very kind and friendly bellman escorted us to the room and remembered and acknowledged us whenever we passed by later on.
Our room was a Standard Room, the lowliest of room categories. It was actually quite spacious by New York standards (420 sq. feet), with almost half the space occupied by the sumptuously appointed bathroom, leaving the bedroom area a bit cramped. The next room category up, the Superior room, has the same square footage but a larger bedroom and smaller bath. The room was sleekly designed in shades of brown and beige, with wood paneling. The view was a "courtyard" view of the backsides of buildings that faced 36th or 37th St.--there was actually a good amount of natural light, and the bathroom also had a window, All windows were floor to ceiling. The bath had a dual head shower (rain or hand-held) over the tub.
What I liked:
The complimentary Nespresso machine and refreshment centre (minifridge with sodas and water--no minibar). The high definition TV. The aforementioned angular windows. The nicely designed door jam that is a refreshingly modern alternative to the standard chain and bolt. The bath toiletries. The large WC alcove.
What was less impressive:
The highly touted Duxiana bed was low-slung--a box spring topped by what looked like a mattress topper but no mattress (A peek at the Duxiana website shows that this is in fact one of their bed's designs--the "magic" apparently is in the number of springs in the base. Yes, it was comfortable, but not out of this world). Only 2 king pillows--4 would have been nice. Only one hand towel and one face cloth, but 2 bath towels and 2 bath sheets. The WC alcove could have used a door. Our shower curtain was full-length, but the one in my brother's room was at least a foot short of the tub ledge, leaving a frightfully dangerous, slippery wet marble surface after showering--a lawsuit waiting to happen. The TV is not wall-mounted, but rather sits on top of the desk, usurping valuable space. There is free Wifi, but no one told me you needed a password. The closet in the Standard rooms are not full length. The bedside cordless phones are hard to operate. The desk phone has a large lighted screen than cannot be dimmed while sleeping. We did not receive morning newspaper delivery, nor did my brother on any day. My brother got cookies with turndown, we got water from the refreshment centre. After we had checked-in (early), we spent an hour or so in the room, during which time the housekeeping staff and others could clearly be heard going about their business. At least 3 people tried to enter the room, only one knocked (luckily we had the door jam engaged). We heard a lot of doors opening and closing--it turned out the room across the way from ours was being used as a housekeeping storage room. A stairway door was also nearby.
Our package included breakfast (a set value to be used in the restaurant or in-room), which we took in the restaurant--quite nice. Interestingly, for some selections, one is not served potatoes, but always a small salad. We also had late night room service (club sandwiches)-- also quite nice, and again with salads instead of carbs. There is a spa and salon that occupies the 4th floor, but we did not try these services. The fitness centre is on the 3rd floor (although the elevators say its on the 4th), as is the business centre--2 small key-accessed rooms housing computers and printers.
If this hotel was situated in an area more suited to my likings, it would definitely be on the list of possible accommodations. Even now, I would consider a return visit, but the luxury hotel milieu in Manhattan is highly competitive and somewhat large, so the Setai must pay attention to every detail to stay in the game.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Gracefully complementing Manhattan's luxurious Fifth Avenue and boldly accenting New York City's famous skyline, Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue is a renewed celebration of sophistication and style. Soaring more than sixty stories above the city, Langham Place, Fifth Avenue represents the new heart of the world's most inspired metropolis. Accommodations exude the very essence of luxury and elegance. Duxiana beds, Pratesi linens, and floor-to-ceiling rain showers leave guests breathing easy, if not breathless. ... more less
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