|The Honeymoon Suite is a spacious hideaway atop Central Park.|
We’ve walked by the Helmsley Park Lane on Central Park South dozens of times over the course of our Manhattan publishing career; we just never had a reason in particular to go in. A few months ago, however, we were invited to try out one of the Executive Junior Suites on the hotel’s newly refurbished executive floors and ended up enjoying our dose of old New York hospitality.
Visitors to New York will know they’re in a real city hotel when they enter the Park Lane. It’s bustling with guests and business people populating the public spaces. The best part? Once you’ve checked in, the front desk attendant rings a bell, and a bellman appears. When was the last time you saw that?
Upstairs, our recently redone Junior Suite (No. 4500) was incredibly spacious, with a generous seating area that overlooks probably the most enviable views of Central Park in town. Perched high on the 45th floor, we could see the West Side on the left and the East Side to the right, stretching for miles and miles uptown. Talk about romantic. Wollman Rink was a tiny dot below us but we could still see the skaters gliding about.
Once we were settled in, it was time to go downstairs for our complimentary drink at Harry’s New York Bar. (If you stay on one of the executive floors at the Park Lane you get a free drink during Happy Hour, which runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, plus a variety of other perks, including free local, long-distance and international phone calls; Wi-Fi; use of a meeting room; and early check-in and late checkout). If you’re looking for a great rendezvous spot in Manhattan, or want to go somewhere with someone you shouldn’t be seen with, this is it. (It’s on the second floor and there’s very little pedestrian traffic.) It’s dark and discreet and run by super professional bartenders and waiters who are quick to pour you a Bellini (which is what we had) or a Park Lane Toasted or some other luscious beverage.
The next morning, we enjoyed our generous continental breakfast, served in the Park Room on the second floor, where all the seats are great because you’re so close to the park. Do try for a seat at the window where you can watch the parade of humanity rush along with the steady pace of horses and carriages.
|The Helmsley Park Lane is a classic fixture on Central Park South.|
The Park Room is also open for lunch and dinner, when the menu standouts include filet of beef au poivre and Colorado lamb shank, as well as other meat, chicken and fish entrées.
Reserve a week out and more so for holiday periods. If you’ve got special food and beverage requests, you can contact the F&B assistant manager, Dany Hasbani ([email protected]; 212-521-6639).
If you’re seeking a truly special event, including a wedding for up to 150 (the hotel will send you an anniversary card every year afterward), reach out to Belky Cabrera, catering/conference sales manager, at 212-521-6210.
More Helmsley hints: It’s hard to get a bad view at the Helmsley Park Lane, but to be sure, request a room on the 10th floor or above. Those on floor 25 or higher have unobstructed city and city/park views.
Another hint for those of you who like to travel ensemble: On 39 floors of the hotel there’s a three-bedroom connected suite, which can hold up to seven people. If those aren’t grand enough, request the Helmsley Suite or the Honeymoon Suite.
What we love: In a world where many new hotels are daring to go tubless, every one of the Helmsley Park Lane’s guest bathrooms have bathtubs; some also have a walk-in shower.
What to wear in public spaces? We say it’s “smart casual” all the way though we’d definitely feel comfortable dressing up in sequins for an evening in the Park Room or Harry’s Bar.
The hotel, which is pet-friendly, doesn’t have a spa, but this is New York and that means there’s a spa just next door. Chief Concierge Thomas Meckl ([email protected]; 212-521-6283) can arrange a treatment; he can also provide private car service pickup wherever you are in the city, including JFK or LaGuardia airports and you can take your pick of a sedan, SUV or stretch limos. He and his team are also capable of fulfilling wondrous tasks, including arranging for a proposal in Central Park, complete with a picnic basket.
The hotel is run by General Manager Zack Zahran ([email protected]).
It’s always busy in New York but be particularly mindful of the New York Marathon (this year it’s November 4), the Thanksgiving Day Parade and really all throughout from September through December and from April through June.
The Helmsley Park Lane is steps away from the amazing shopping on Fifth Avenue (Bergdorf or Tiffany anyone?) and Madison Avenue. It’s also just a few doorways down from The Plaza, whose new Todd English Food Hall is a must-visit, with all sorts of great dining areas and bars serving up brick-oven pizza, tapas, pasta, burgers, you name it. It’s very elegant with great amber lighting; a lovely complement to a stay at the Helmsley Park Lane.