“U.S. Open?” the hostess asked.
I did a double-take: Lately, you could be forgiven for thinking the country’s been closed, what with all these months of political nastiness. Why, just the day before, I’d come from a meeting with an industry executive in LA hoping to discuss a show called “American Purgatory,” only to be drawn into yet another Donald diatribe… American purgatory, indeed. But here, thankfully, I was simply being shown to my table at the birthplace of the power breakfast, the Loews Regency New York Hotel.
A press release states that the hotel has defined Park Avenue hospitality since the moment it opened its doors in 1963—which is actually true—and notes a recent renovation to the tune of $100 million, which is evident from the moment you enter the gleaming lobby. And after fighting (there is no other word for it) through the degraded state of New York’s nominally world-class airports and hell-inspired traffic, a bit of sparkle is exactly what the travel doctor ordered. But let’s not conflate shine with glitz: Loews Regency is no Trump Tower.
This is more on the order of a classic Manhattan hotel, with a Park Avenue address and all the understated luxury that implies. You don’t want, after all, to stay in or around congested Times Square these days, unless you’re some kind of masochist, European tourist or both. Soho is no-go, another victim of one glossy travel mag spread too many—in short, too crowded (I hear Trump’s got a hotel downtown too; skip it.) Park Avenue at 61st Street puts you in a good place geographically—an easy walk to Midtown and even easier stroll to the Fifth Avenue side of Central Park. You’d never guess from the airy, sleek lobby, with its shimmering updated Art Deco accents, that there are 379 guestrooms (of which 58 are suites) above you. There are, but the most famous spot on the property is undoubtedly The Regency Bar, just off the lobby. This is the place to hobnob and there are plenty of locals from the New York business and media worlds who are doing just that on a nightly basis. On a daily basis too, because once you cross this threshold, which leads to the dining room, you are entering the domain of the original power breakfast. In the mid-1970s, hotel founder Bob Tisch would invite Gotham’s movers and shakers over for breakfast and an iconic New York experience was born.
I mentioned the U.S. Open: British power tennis player Johanna Konta was staying at the Loews ahead of the famous tournament, about which I admittedly know nothing. But that’s a quality I admire in a hotel: the nose for what might at first seem like unlikely pairings. Millennial types call these “activations” but I would call it alchemy, and it can make a stay every bit as memorable as plush fabrics and killer views. Because there I was, chatting about the tastiness of Hungarian cold tart cherry soup (Konta’s parents are Hungarian) with this tennis star over a power breakfast that included luscious cherry Danishes among many other goodies. Later in the day, after a hard slog through Manhattan’s high-octane but also cacophonous streets, I found myself in the steam room of the hotel’s immaculate Julien Farel spa with Konta’s coach, talking about tennis—something about which I now know slightly more than before.
Back to the rooms for a moment: 275 square feet is the starting point for a superior king, and that’s pretty good for New York. I appreciate having a desk and, apart from that, a nice spot to sit that isn’t the bed. And it’s nice to be able to open the windows. Marble bathrooms with pastel-accented consoles are easy on the eyes. The style throughout is more classic than design flavor-of-the-month, but when it comes to tucking yourself in at night, comfort always trumps what’s trending. These are quality, even serene surroundings, which is something you are going to appreciate when you need to power down in a demanding city that tends to grab you without easily letting go.
Did I mention Loews Loves Pets? Yes, Loews Regency New York is a pet-friendly hotel. A one-time fee of $50 per stay (not bad for pricey New York) ensures that your cat or dog will be waited on “hand and paw.” Specialized bedding, leashes and collars are available, as are litter boxes, pet placemats, special treats like rawhide bones and catnip and even a gourmet room service menu for dogs and cats prepared by the hotel’s executive chef. And remember that Central Park, Manhattan’s very necessary rectangular forest, is just two blocks from the hotel’s Park Avenue entrance. Are you ready to make yours?