A Grande Dame Gets a Makeover: A Review of The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
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To The Point
The Ritz-Carlton Central Park, New York is a beautiful property that blends classic New York glamour with 21st-century practicality. Pros: Convenient location, elegantly renovated guest rooms and amazing service. Cons: Average bathrooms, high food/drink prices and poor elite recognition for Platinum members.
Since I moved to New York almost three years ago, I’ve had my eye on The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, a classic property located right below Manhattan’s Central Park. I’m not a huge fan of the gilded style that the hotel used to sport, but I still wanted to experience the property to get a taste of the New York that existed long before I came to town.
The stars aligned when the hotel revealed that it had completed a renovation of its 253 rooms and suites. Plus, when the new Marriott Bonvoy chart was introduced on March 5, the hotel moved from a Category 7 into the pricier Category 8. When I learned that my mom was planning a weekend visit from Michigan in early March, I knew it would be the perfect time to lock in a staycation at the newly-renovated property before it jumped from 60,000 points per night to 85,000.
I was going to stay at the hotel from March 8 to March 10, but I was able to get the 60,000-point rate since I booked before March 5. I booked a deluxe room directly through the Ritz-Carlton website using 120,000 points. (If you’re looking to use points for a stay now, you’ll have to use 85,000 per night.) Rooms were going for just about $1,000 per night, so using points here — especially at 60,000 per night — was the right call. I got a value of about 1.6 cents per point, considerably higher than TPG’s valuation of 0.9 cents apiece.
I charged the incidentals to my Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card (no longer open to new applicants), which earned me 6x points per dollar spent at Marriott properties. I was hoping my Platinum status would score me an upgrade, but according to staff, the hotel was completely full (the front desk mentioned many visitors were in town for an Elton John farewell concert) and there were no upgrades available. That was disappointing, because I had really hoped for that coveted Central Park view, but I ended up being happy with my room anyway.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park is in a landmark New York City building that dates back to the 1930s. It’s in a prime location for tourists, overlooking Central Park and close to tourist attractions like Rockefeller Center, the shops on Fifth and Madison avenues, Lincoln Center and more. Business travelers will find the property convenient to Midtown, and there are a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and subway stops nearby.
When I arrived around 3:00pm on a Friday, I was warmly welcomed by staff and immediately checked in. I was slightly bummed when I heard there were no upgrades available and even more so when the check-in agent told me that the restaurant and bar were still under renovation and wouldn’t be open until April. Instead, guests could have light bites and drinks in the lobby lounge. The space itself had been redone with the hotel’s renovation project, but it had yet to receive its new furniture and decor.
The lobby itself, though, was gorgeous. Small but elegant, it gave off a very old-New York vibe, with its gold-plated vaulted ceiling, ornate hanging chandelier, shiny marble floors and large, intricate crown moldings.
I was handed the keys to my room on the 20th floor and was told that our bags would be waiting for us when we got to our room.
My deluxe room was on the 20th floor, and my first thought when entering was that it felt like I was entering someone’s home. After I read a little more about the hotel’s renovation project, I realized that that was exactly what the designers were going for with this renovation.
I especially loved how the dark wood contrasted with the white moldings and beige window treatments.
The room felt very upscale but still approachable, with its comfortable king bed dressed in crisp, white linens, white marble-topped tables and good-looking and sturdy furniture pieces. The neutral window treatments added to the high-end but understated feel of the room.
It felt thoroughly modern, too, with outlets (two USB and AC) built directly into each nightstand.
Although I didn’t have a view of the park, I actually didn’t mind, because our room looked directly onto the Midtown skyline, which felt very New York to me, and it was a dramatic change from the views I get from where I live in Brooklyn.
I was able to find light switches easily, and the room had other practical touches like a true desk for working and chair and a new smart TV — perfect for watching Netflix as I would at home. The photograph hanging on the wall definitely felt like it belonged in an Upper East Side townhouse, and fit in perfectly with the rest of the decor.
I parked it on the chair in the small seating area to read all about Justin Bieber’s wedding to Hailey Baldwin (JK, I really was reading about planes on my phone, of course). At any rate, the magazines left on the marble-topped table were yet another touch that contributed to the homey feel of the room.
Right inside the entry door, there was a small foyer with a full-length mirror and a closet. Inside, I found the usual suspects, like a safe, iron and board, robe and slippers.
Half of the room’s minibar was on a side table in the entrance foyer, but at $60 for the baby bottle of Patrón tequila, I was not going anywhere near that. The rest of the minibar could be found in the slide-out fridge in the dresser under the TV.
The hotel provided two wine glasses, two Champagne flutes and two rocks glasses — just like you’d have at your bar at home. I would have loved to mix myself a cocktail and sip it on the comfortable chair, “Mad Men” style, but with the prices of the booze in the room, I stuck to the free water bottles (which were replaced often and generously, by the way).
The room was wonderfully quiet — the windows blocked out just about all of the noise from the busy city.
While I loved how the bedroom looked, I was less impressed with the bathroom renovation.
It felt like a holdover from the previous design. The color scheme was right, but the marble tiles themselves didn’t seem new, and the lighting was poor in the shower and over the bathtub.
I liked the photograph, but the shower/tub combo looked dated. I would have much preferred that the hotel scrap the tub completely and focus on a larger, more luxurious shower.
Speaking of the shower, it was indeed small, but the pressure was excellent. I did like that the molding detail was carried through into the bathroom, but I wish they’d gone a little further with the bathroom renovations. As usual, the Ritz had Asprey amenities, which I always love (and try to steal from any Ritz I stay at).
Food and Beverage
As I previously mentioned, the bar and restaurant were under renovation during my stay. The staff (and the sign that was posted outside the space) told me the new spaces would be open in April, but the hotel’s website now says that they’ll be opening in May.
Although the space was a little dark for dining, it had a cool, classic vibe — it felt a little like a cigar lounge. Staff told me that the furniture in the lounge would soon be replaced, and I look forward to seeing how they redecorate.
I had a bowl of French onion soup here for lunch on the cold, drizzly day we checked out, and it was delicious.
Room service was another area in which the hotel excelled. It came impressively fast, and my Western omelet was tasty, hot and big. My mom is a dedicated coffee drinker and loved the hotel’s joe so much that she called down for a second pot. The staff brought one up in just a few minutes and didn’t even charge for it.
Considering breakfast for two cost almost $100, though, only plan to order if you really don’t want to leave your room. Otherwise, there’s just too much good food in New York — you could even grab a bagel and a coffee at a nearby deli for not much more than $5. It was unfortunate that my Platinum status didn’t count for much in this regard — Platinums don’t receive free breakfast at Ritz-Carlton properties.
If you’re staying at this property, it’s likely that you’ll view its location as its best amenity. It’s just across the street from the southern end of Central Park, meaning the entirety of the park and all it has to offer is just steps away. Plus, the hotel is near many of Manhattan’s top attractions, so it’s probable that you won’t be spending a ton of time in the hotel.
And, since it was a city hotel, the list of amenities was shorter than you’d find at a sprawling beach resort, for example. The main attraction here was the revamped La Prairie spa, but I didn’t have time for any treatments during my stay, since we were out and about for the majority of the weekend.
There was a small gym available for guests, as well, though the staff told me that there would be a new, much larger gym unveiled in the next couple of months.
Wi-Fi was complimentary for Bonvoy members, and I was able to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both on the smart TV and on my computer with no issues whatsoever.
I was very impressed with the way the hotel presented old-school New York glamour mixed with modern, cozy and practical rooms. And though I wasn’t a fan of the bathroom, the renovation was a success. The service we received throughout our stay was also exceptional — I was specifically impressed by the room-service servers who took the time to not just set up our food but also to chat with us and get to know us. Also, each time we entered or exited the hotel, a white-gloved bellman opened the door and greeted us by name. That’s definitely something I could get used to!
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, is a truly elegant property that exudes classic New York while fully embracing the 21st century. It was a cozy and luxurious base for a staycation in Manhattan, and I think that pretty much anyone visiting the Big Apple would enjoy a stay at this property. The staff wowed me throughout my stay with their friendliness and professionalism, and once the new bar and restaurant are completed, I think it could even become a place where locals would hang out and have a drink or a bite to eat. I would certainly stay at this hotel again, though next time I’ll be begging for a room with a Central Park view.
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