The gal went to New York to look at a home-away-from-home, a luxury hotel that prides itself on being an extremely desirable pad, rather like your own apartment (The Lowell, on East 63rd Street between Madison and Park was, indeed, an apartment block until 1982). Over 60 percent of people who stay here at what is now a privately-owned 74-room hotel are regulars, and the staff say welcome home, when you come back, even for a second time. Come into what seems like a private palace, to be welcomed by its caretaker and boss, Ashish Verma, and the concierges, and a selection of fruit waters and fresh fruit.
Take a typical room, sorry, suite, number 12-A – that sounds like an apartment, for a start. Like all the hotel it is designed by Michael Smith, who does not ‘do’ hotels. He is a private designer, for apartments of the rich and famous, even, it is rumoured, right up to White House level. The hotel also has its own permanent decorator, who follows Michael Smith’s designs and makes sure that everything is totally meticulous. No scratch or tiny blob, here. 12-A is almost awash with white orchids, even in the bathroom, next to a stack of lovely DDC28 bespoke toiletries, chosen by Dina de Luca Chartouni, who happens to be co-owner, with her husband Fouad Chartouni.
It is all so tasteful. The colours are taupe and champagne, there are cashmere throws, a proper log fire is lit by the fire butler in winter (yes, as well as a full-time decorator there is a winter-time fire specialist, and, every day of the week, an IT specialist). I have shelves and shelves of books, from Ian Rankin’s The Complaints to Angus Kress Gillespie’s Twin Towers. Yes, there are masses of books on New York, really helpful for visitors who are about to explore but want the background to the experience. Uniquely, even the pillowcases have an outline silhouette of the Manhattan skyline.
Whereas the public areas of this exquisite luxury hotel have old prints on the wall, bedrooms have framed black and white photographs of Manhattan. Yes, you know where you are here. If the weather permits, go out on the balconies of 12-A, looking down to leafy East 63 Street, and look at the brownstone houses around you. Memo to all luxury travellers: a hotel that makes you feel at home and simultaneously provides an ambience suitable for the locale is really special.