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We toured Aman New York, the city's most expensive (and exclusive) new hotel

Aug. 26, 2022
18 min read
hotel room with trees painted on walls, desk with chair
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Editor's Note

A previous version of this story stated that Aman New York was the brand's first location in the U.S., but there are two other previous locations, in Utah and Wyoming. The post has been updated to reflect that information.

After years of anticipation, Aman New York — the third U.S. outpost of the ultra-exclusive, Asia-based luxury chain, which also includes stunners like Amangiri in Utah and Amangani in Wyoming — finally opened its doors earlier in August, and TPG was able to get inside the exclusive property for a private tour this week.

It's a long walk up Fifth Avenue from 15th Street, where TPG's headquarters is located, to the hotel near the southern end of Central Park. But sometimes when you live in New York City, it's important to remind yourself that, well, you live in New York City. So, I made the 44-block journey uptown on foot, my excitement growing with every step.

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This stretch of Fifth Avenue (and its offshoot streets) is home to some of the most iconic hotels not just in New York City, but in the entire world.

I strolled past The New York Edition, set in what was once the tallest building in the world from 1909 to 1913, and then The Langham. Over a dozen blocks north, I came to The St. Regis New York, where staff members still wear white gloves. Across the street sits The Peninsula New York, and close to where the avenue meets the park there's The Plaza, which you probably know from the "Eloise" book series or the 1992 classic film "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York."

This part of Manhattan is a luxury playground for the ultra-rich, with some of the world's most expensive stores and hotels — all of the above can easily cost more than $1,000 a night on a cheap night. I was headed to tour the newest entry into that rarefied lineup: The long-awaited Aman New York, a so-called "vertical spa resort" in the middle of the city that never sleeps.

As a connoisseur of luxury hotels who has been reporting on this buzzed-about property since well before it even got underway, it was a day I'd been anticipating for a long time.

But as a (mostly) regular person, I was curious to see if the Jean-Michel Gathy-designed resort, which is allegedly city-soundproofed, was worth the $3,200 a night the hotel was charging for rooms (which keep selling out) when reservations opened in July.

Here's our look inside one of New York City's most exclusive hotels, and while these photos came courtesy of Aman, be sure to check out TPG's social media feeds for our own hot takes.

Inside the Aman New York

AMAN NEW YORK

Found on the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue mere blocks from Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art, Aman New York is tucked away inside the historic Crown Building, a neoclassical landmark from 1921 designed by Warren and Wetmore, the duo behind Grand Central Station. The gilded building, a work of art in and of itself, was actually the first home of MoMA from 1929 to 1932.

Now, more than a century after the building was first conceived, guests enter Aman New York when a doorman lets them past black velvet ropes suspended between gold stanchions. They are then directed through an understated entryway flanked by two trees and down a corridor of golden walls with a woven-like pattern that was inspired by rattan baskets and is echoed throughout the hotel.

If you're wondering about the restricted entry, this isn't a hotel where you can just wander in with your laptop and work for the day. In fact, you can't even get into the restaurant or bar for a drink without being a guest of the hotel or part of the hyper-exclusive membership club that has a jaw-dropping $200,000 initiation fee plus an annual fee of $15,000. (Let's hope that at least comes with a drink credit!)

But that's all by design. Exclusivity is sexy, right? And there are few places in the world with such an unbridled appetite for VIP treatment as New York, which is home to a number of membership-focused clubs and hotels, including the recently opened Ned NoMad, a moody sister brand of SoHo House. (By comparison, though, a membership at the Ned is $5,000 a year after a mere $1,500 joining fee.)

If you're lucky (or wealthy) enough to make it into the building, congratulations! You'll then head past the first of many fireplaces (more than 200, according to the PR representative who gave the tour) and make your way to the 14th floor to the stunning double-height lobby.

I made it inside for my tour — praise! — but before I got on the elevator, I worried something might be wrong with my ears.

Having just walked nearly 50 blocks on a busy Tuesday afternoon to a hotel in one of the most bustling, congested parts of New York, I realized that, despite still being on the ground level, the space was absolutely devoid of the city sounds reverberating off the canyon of buildings outside. No horns. No sirens. Just the faint sounds of intimate conversations of passersby heading to the elevator and the well-dressed employees behind the entry desk.

This, I later discovered, was due to intricate glass soundproofing throughout the building.

I stepped into the lift and before I knew it, the doors opened and I was up, up and off to spend an hour in an entirely different world that felt far more than a borough away from my 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

The lobby

AMAN NEW YORK

Throughout the hotel, and especially in the lobby, guests and "founders" (Aman argot for members) will find a blend of light, contemporary design embodied in natural elements such as stone, oak and walnut woods and profuse floral arrangements inspired by the Japanese art of Ikebana.

A dark and moodily lit check-in area sits before the entrance to the much brighter, warmer and more inviting Bar Lounge. Pictured above, the Bar Lounge is centered around a glass-enclosed fireplace and a floating installation of paper and bamboo by artist Peter Gentenaar that, to me, looked like an artistic expression of a species of rare jellyfish.

AMAN NEW YORK

Off to the side, past a grand piano, the 7,000-square-foot Garden Terrace sits above the busy intersection of 57th and Fifth and is filled with plush but casual seating, understated elements of greenery, including potted trees, and a fireplace in the middle of a tranquil pool. An imposing, rattan-inspired facade and screen give the space privacy and fresh air. Thanks to a retractable glass roof, the Garden Terrace is set to be open year-round.

While I wasn't able to enjoy a drink, the Bar Lounge serves "New York-inspired light meals" and cocktails with a Japanese flourish. During my early afternoon visit, the lobby was surprisingly full with guests chatting and taking phone calls. I kept wondering who these folks were exactly.

AMAN NEW YORK

On the far side of the lobby is Arva, "Aman's tribute to Italy's rich culinary heritage," an outpost of which you will also find at Aman Venice. The restaurant, helmed by chef Dario Ossola, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves sharable dishes created with sustainable ingredients like fresh pastas made daily in-house; salt-encrusted black sea bass; and rack of lamb from famed Elysian Fields Farm.

Here, too, there seems to be a driving desire to pull the outdoors inside, with floor-to-ceiling windows that stream with sunlight, banks of shrubs separating the rows of tables along with still more dramatic flower arrangements, and heavy wooden tables surrounded by slender-profile wooden chairs and high-backed upholstered banquettes.

I'd love to tell you more about what it was like, but even with my media escort, I wasn't allowed to enter the space while guests were eating lunch. As Countess Luann de Lesseps of "Real Housewives of New York" fame sings, "money can't buy you class," but it certainly can shield you from the prying eyes of a jealous journalist.

On the other side of the 14th floor's main reception area, there is also Nama, a traditional washoku Japanese restaurant, which was preparing the final touches for its grand (albeit invitation-only) opening when I visited. Expected to operate Tuesdays to Saturdays, Nama serves Japanese delicacies like Wagyu beef, sweet miso black cod and nigiri or sashimi.

The real highlight here, though, is a Japanese hinoki wood counter where celebrated chef Takuma Yonemaru will serve a 15- to 18-piece omakase dinner under a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired ceiling. I can confirm that the space was beautiful. As for the taste, hopefully, I can tell you at a later date.

The rooms

The public spaces were sleek, highly designed areas that balanced a certain sterility with an aura of high luxury — a kind of look-but-don't-touch ambiance. So, I was curious to see if that aesthetic extended to the accommodations, of which there are 83 suites in a variety of sizes and configurations.

The first suite I saw was a corner suite, which is offered in one- to three-bedroom configurations that measure between 1,700 and 2,025 square feet. Corner suites can also be connected via a foyer to studio rooms and other suite setups for even more space.

The one-room corner suite alone, without the adjoining rooms, is a whopping 1,690 square feet — nearly triple the size of my apartment. It is also priced in mid-September for $20,000 a night, which is more than six times my monthly rent.

AMAN NEW YORK

My eyes were immediately drawn to the windows where, across the street, a building-size ad for Tiffany & Co. filled the entirety of the frame.

Despite looking down over cacophonous Fifth Avenue, the suite was magically hushed. It was like being inside one of the airtight jewelry display cases at Tiffany across the street, with its carefully guarded treasures.

The one-bedroom corner suite's expansive living area contains a dining table with seating for four, should you not wish to eat among your fellow guests during your sojourn. There are also simple but expensive-looking cream-colored couches that practically demand you sit there with a flute of Champagne after navigating the city streets outside or invite you to repose with one of the Phaidon books on the stone-topped coffee table.

Most dramatic of all is a dual-sided fireplace embedded into the wall separating the living room from the bedroom. In a first for New York, every suite has one.

Also separating the living room and bedroom are a series of backlit rice paper panels with intricate woven patterns that can close off the space for privacy so guests can enjoy the "oversized" king bed.

Past that is an alcove that serves as a small office space, almost like a proper study, where I would be more than happy to write from every day.

And then there is the bathroom, which almost feels like its own self-contained spa The palatial space is anchored by a custom-designed, low-set freestanding tub (available in all the suites) that looks right into the bedroom (though the illuminated rice paper screen panels do close). Should a prolonged soak simply feel too decadent, fear not: There is also a walk-in shower with a rainfall showerhead and a steam mode.

Blending an almost ascetic severity with high-design simplicity, the double vanity has a stone countertop with two sinks and square-shaped, brushed-metal faucets, along with other stone elements.

AMAN NEW YORK

But I was personally more inspired by the standard premier suite (which is just 815 square feet!). In this room, you enter and the bathroom is on one side of a long entry hallway separated by those beautiful rice paper panels, which open and close for privacy. In the bathroom, pictured above, that same gorgeous tub sits not too far from the bed alongside a side table with a jar of Aman bath salts for relaxing. Aman has its own collection of spa, skincare and fragrance products, each inspired by one of its resort destinations, including a new scent designed for New York.

One fun feature was a cream-colored cushioned stool tucked under a freestanding vanity table opposite the double sinks. It had a hidden mirror that folds out and serves as a more comfortable place to put on makeup or fix your hair. Luxury and comfort combined, this spot will probably be popular with the many wealthy (in cash or followers) influencers and celebrities who will surely flock here.

AMAN NEW YORK

But the grandest part of the space is the wall-size recreation of "Pine Trees" opposite the bed, a stunning ink-on-paper mural spread across multiple screens from the late 1500s and designated a national treasure by Japan. That and the fireplace, of course.

Aman New York. AMAN NEW YORK

I'll be frank: If I were to stay at Aman New York, I'd opt for one of the smaller suites because they felt more like what you'd expect from a spa resort — a golden-hued, weighted blanket in room form that could swaddle you in tranquility.

Considering Aman New York has the most expensive entry-level rooms in the city, you should also be weighted down in literal gold (or at least cash), as there's not a single room available from September through the end of the year for less than $3,000 per night.

The spa

AMAN NEW YORK

Aman is world-famous for its spas — and this new city edition is sure to add to that reputation. Although maze-like, the layout makes sense considering the facilities sprawl across three floors and 25,000 square feet.

Before seeing the space for myself, I was very excited to check out the 65-foot heated indoor pool. I had not quite believed the photos I'd seen were real, but it really, truly does exist.

AMAN NEW YORK

Luckily for my tour, there were no guests in the pool area, so I was able to take it all in. Lounge chairs and cushioned daybeds that felt like they were taken from a spa relaxation room were smartly placed around the long, rectangular pool. Circular glass fireplaces with ceiling-high copper vent hoods lined one side of the pool, while the other had more traditional fireplaces set against the wall.

Though the photo above shows open windows, heavy curtains covered them, blocking the midafternoon light and allowing the turquoise water to glow. As for the pool itself, I can't imagine anyone wanting to ruin the stillness of the space by swimming laps, but I could easily imagine myself soaking in the heated water and then curling up in one of the plush chairs near a fireplace.

There was also an accessible pool lift near the entrance so the pool can be used by everyone. But what the glossy press photos don't show are the necessary, legally required distractions like "No Diving" signs, safety equipment hanging on the walls and the depth of the pool embossed on the sleek floors.

As for the spa's treatment offerings, if you want it done, they probably offer it. Freeze away your physical stress in the double-capacity cryotherapy chamber (apparently, you and your friends can have a dance party in the subzero temperatures to your favorite song); try a not-so-traditional Fotona4D facial, which is basically a nonsurgical facelift; or opt for an Aman Signature Facial ($630) or a 90-minute massage ($480).

AMAN NEW YORK

And if you really, really want to splurge (and I assume you can if you're spending a night here), book a private Spa House, which is a double treatment room with a living area, an outdoor terrace with a hot bath and cold-plunge pool, and either a hammam or banya, for a full- or half-day experience.

Sadly, beyond the pool, I wasn't able to check out these spaces myself.

Though what I did see felt luxe, it also felt clinical — more about high-tech, next-generation equipment than about services or spaces to help guests recharge physically, spiritually or emotionally, which is why I typically head to the spa. Beyond the high price tags of treatments, which also make many of these experiences feel out of reach, something about the pristine spaces felt subdued rather than salubrious and completely disconnected from, rather than energized by, the vibrancy of the city just outside the walls.

But I guess that's the point.

Speakeasy

AMAN NEW YORK

Beneath the hotel, there's a subterranean space called the Jazz Club. This was my favorite part of the tour, and I was excited to learn about its state-of-the-art sound system, which allows music to be amplified in different ways to create the ideal sound environment for the show, from a small chamber with a perfect echo to one that feels like a reverberating cathedral. I heard it with my own ears — and it was very impressive.

Thankfully, the Jazz Club will eventually be open to the public for gourmet snacks (think: truffle grilled cheese) and pricey craft cocktails and live music. Like any vibey spot, the general manager of the club told me they want to fill it with cool but laid-back patrons, meaning you don't need a head-to-toe Balenciaga makeover or a bespoke vicuna suit to get in.

My black jeans, silk button up and black loafers would make the cut, I was told. (Praise, again!)

Bottom line

AMAN NEW YORK

Until I get to spend more than an hour in this middle-of-the-city oasis, it will be tough to say what exactly Aman got right and what still needs some fine-tuning.

Overall, the hotel is filled with beautiful, smartly designed public areas and rooms, and you can feel the exclusivity from every corner of the property.

But Aman New York also feels somewhat antiseptic, like a gorgeous space you are invited to admire but not to enjoy. It's as though the attempt to bring a beloved uber-luxury brand to New York City and to create the perfect urban resort kept it from taking on a personality other than "expensive."

Perhaps the austere palette and toned-down furnishings with eye-catching elements here and there are meant simply to be a canvas upon which visitors create their own experiences and which the presence of patrons will bring to life. But that's a lot to ask of guests paying well over $3,000 a night.

Earlier this summer, I also toured the brand-new Ritz-Carlton, NoMad about 30 blocks downtown from the Aman. It, too, has a beautiful spa I can't wait to visit, stunning and spacious suites, a José Andrés-led food and beverage program and, from my brief walkthrough, a lot of character thanks to a multitude of colors as vibrant as its neighborhood and stunning bathtubs that face out in some rooms to one of the greatest skylines on Earth. It draws inspiration from the city rather than trying to sequester guests from it at all costs — and for a significantly less expensive price tag than Aman New York.

The city's hotel scene is competitive, but is its luxury clientele the same? They could be — and a sold-out slate of rooms at the Aman would lead me to believe they are. But in a place as colorful and characterful (and some would say cynical) as New York City, I'll be curious to see how the hotel fares after the initial excitement wanes.

Then again, for some clientele, the whole point of a visit to Aman is tranquil exclusivity, and that might hold true for this New York City iteration. We probably won't know ourselves ... until we get in there for a proper night of sleep on those pretty, plush beds.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that Aman New York was the brand's first location in the U.S., but there are two other previous locations, in Utah and Wyoming. The post has been updated to reflect that information.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Aman)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases