The Lowell Hotel, New York, is one of those luxury hotel gems that some know about and share with friends. The gal was lucky enough to be staying there when her good friend Mary Gendron, on the left of the photo, said that the last time she was here it was at a business meeting with Sarah, Duchess of York, which brought back memories of another meeting that former-royal had held at The Berkeley in London. She obviously favours meeting in great hotels – as do so many top people, and although ‘the brands’ will assert otherwise, really Top People like meeting away from the madding crowd.
I thought of Vera Wang and her statement that hotels should, like her wedding dresses, evoke glamour when I entered suite 7-B of the 74-room The Lowell. Look at the flowers. They make you want to twirl. Go into the bathroom, and both basins have electric magnifying mirrors, and the tub is really deep – with a television in the wall at the foot – and there are bathsalts as well as exclusive DDC28 toiletries, named for Dina de Luca Chartouni, who co-owns the hotel. Suite 7-B is for the aesthete, who also appreciates having hardback books that range from Birds of Prey to Inside Bellevue, whatever that is.
Insider tip, here. Make sure that you are one of the 33 rooms that has a real log fire (this is the only hotel in New York that offers this). Just as at Taj Boston, you can ask a fire butler to come and light it. He arrived, with a firelighter brick and extra really-dry logs, and one flick of a firelighting wand and the fire was away. There is nothing nicer, even in summer, than a proper fire. Where else do you get log fires in hotels in the USA? Does Fairmont’s Sonoma Mission Inn still have them? I do remember having to try to light that one myself, which was a 100 percent failure. Yes, we all have failings and firelighting is high up my list.
Anyway, with the fire lit I was able to appreciate the suite even more. I love the bed, with its metal corner posts soaring to about eight feet (I know, I tried to put my raincoat over one of the posts and I could not reach). It has a taupe cashmere throw, with a simple L on it. The Lowell is not into heavy branding. I head down to the second floor gym, which offers not only equipment and a Pilates ball but lots of fruit, and health bars, and a health menu. Yes, I could order an organic vegetable platter and a mango lassi, to eat and drink right here, while watching Channel 7 Eyewitness News.
But I prefer to eat in the Pembroke Room, a lovely private-feel boudoir that offers breakfast, weekend and holiday brunch, and daily afternoon tea and pre-theatre suppers. The room has lace curtains at the windows, and Regency silver and a traditional feel, and I have the feeling, at breakfast, that most of the people around me are regulars, either hotel guests or Manhattanites meeting, away from those madding crowds. There is certainly a big deal being discussed at the next table. Mary Gendron is held up by floods and a waiter asks if I would like something to read while I wait.
They are unusually perceptive, here at this gem of a luxury hotel. When I leave, I have just arrived at reception (well, a corner area with walls covered with bookshelf-facsimile wallpaper) when the young lady there says ‘you have left your cellphone in your room, may I send someone up?’ How could they know, so quickly? There was no-one on the floor as I left. And then, again as if intuitively, the hotel GM, Ashish Verma, appears. When you realise he was trained by Oberoi and went on to Orient-Express, you begin to understand why The Lowell works.