New York City’s East Side Story

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The Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City offers the perfect Midtown vibe for travelers looking for a historic, worthwhile dose of classic New York.

When it comes to New York City, I’ve always been more of a West Side kind of guy – something about being near the wide expanse of the Hudson, I guess. But in truth, you can’t have west without some east, too.

On a recent trip to Gotham, I was reminded of a New York that predated the time of downtown trendiness, with its scintillating but slightly exhausting universe of Rihanna sightings and cronut offerings.

The living souvenir came my way the instant I stepped into the lobby of the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, a reserve of elegance and gentle verve in a city sorely in need of it.

With Park Avenue behind you, in front is the expansive 24-foot-high ceiling, which creates a grand entrance to a lobby that invites and energizes with a soupçon of Art Deco, effectively bringing New York’s unmistakable Midtown vibe to this legendary spot a few blocks north, very close to Central Park, the shops of Madison Avenue and Museum Mile.

Loews Regency was long a landmark New York City hotel, but now welcomes guests back with a sparkle after a yearlong $100-million transformation. The hotel features 328 apartment-styled guestrooms and 58 suites boasting crisp lines and a fresh, spacious aesthetic. At the Lobby Lounge, alluring seating and décor makes for an inviting respite to relax and mingle with other guests and visitors. The lounge area, with rich crushed velvet sofas in cool lavender and other tones, sits under an impressive art installation by Brooklyn-based artist Nina Helms.

The guestrooms, like the lobby lounge, are designed by Rottet Studio and offer a fresh aesthetic combined with luxury and understated style. Linens by Frette, plush Garnier-Thiebaut towels made in Turkey, amenities by Julien Farel (whose flagship salon and spa is also in the hotel), smart televisions and complimentary Wifi high-speed internet access. There are six signature suites ranging in size from 700 square feet to 1,550 square feet, each featuring its own design concept and views over Park Avenue and 61st Street.

Plus, you can’t go three feet (or three paragraphs) without talking about New York food, and Loews Regency is no exception. This is the place, after all, that gave birth to the original power breakfast. It was informally introduced back in 1975, during the New York City financial crisis.

Today, the power breakfast stands as one of the most iconic dining experiences in Manhattan. Regulars of this special ritual include Katie Couric, Larry King, Joe Lhota and Al Sharpton. The power breakfast is served in the lobbyside Regency Bar & Grill and is a Monday through Friday affair, which meant that I missed mine, thanks to the subpar travel website Vayama, which I absolutely cannot recommend.

That is, unless you like having zero notification of a pre-booked and paid-for international flight two hours before what was supposed to be its scheduled departure. Bad news, as is the entire experience of transiting through Newark International.

Frankly, if there’s one place where it’s okay to lift your nose to the air a little, it’s a Park Avenue address, where you can leave thoughts of all lesser provinces behind. And that doesn’t mean snobs surround you. Au contraire, I walked into this place looking like I had just rolled off the back of a dump truck, with a mound of luggage that made it worse, but the front desk staff could not have been more affable, directing me to a UPS store on Second Avenue and even sending me there gratis in a nifty new Fiat 500L – the Italian carmaker has teamed up with the hotel for a unique partnership that to my knowledge is the first of its kind.

Later, back at reception, I was too tired to go out so they helped me order a real NYC pizza from John’s which I savored in my room with the New York City skyline as my sole starry-eyed companion.

I want the full power breakfast (though my Saturday morning repast at the restaurant was delicious) and the chance to pop into Sant Ambroeus at the Regency, a Milanese style coffee bar with a separate entrance on 61st Street. I also want to have lunch at Le Cirque, close by on East 58th St., then sleep away the afternoon and go for another spin in the Fiat 500. Now, I just need the one thing New York never has enough of: time.

To learn more about Loews Regency, visit: www.loewshotels.com/Regency-Hotel.