In a world full of luxury hotels, with new ones opening all the time, which ones are the best? In our ongoing series, we share our finds. They’re hotels and resorts at which we’ve personally stayed (with no promotional consideration involved). We’d recommend these to friends and family – and to you, dear reader. In this edition of best luxury hotels in the world: The Whitby Hotel in New York.
This property in midtown Manhattan is absolutely, profoundly enchanting. If you haven’t stopped in yet, we strongly advise you to do so. Its a lovely bit of Great Britain in the heart of New York.
our “best luxury hotels in the world” series
Through the years, we’ve been in and out of a number of hotels around the world, for both business and leisure travel. And we’ve run the gamut of possible experiences.
For example, we moved out of one property because it was so hideous (we will not name names, but it was in Miami, and we sincerely hope that someone will stage an intervention and attempt to save the place). Happily, we’ve fallen in love with many more.
Such is life on the road. A new hotel can turn out to be a new love, or an epic fail.
We’re all about focusing on the positive, and celebrating those who work tirelessly to get luxury exactly, precisely right.
So we’re more than pleased to share the details of our recent joyful stay at the Whitby Hotel in New York.
the origin story of the whitby in new york
This is their first Midtown venture, and the property has been open for about a year.
The Whitby is the perfect launchpad for some of the best luxury experiences in Midtown: it’s walking distance to Bergdorf’s, the MoMA, Broadway, and Central Park. We’d had lunch in the hotel’s stunning dining room, and had vowed to return. This was our first overnight stay, and it was sensational.
the lobby and common areas
We felt good vibes as soon as we walked through the door: the bellmen and concierge warmly introduced themselves by name, and provided an escort to the reception desk.
The lobby is vibrant and charming, but a bit small, so the swirl of color and movement can be a bit overwhelming for a first-time visitor. Thus the value of a friendly and reassuring welcome (in fact, the staff members all greet us throughout our stay by saying “Welcome home” when we pass through the lobby. Nice touch.)
Check-in’s a breeze, and we were upgraded at no charge to a junior suite on the second floor (that had nothing to do with this post, BTW).
The fitness center is on the lowest level of the hotel, and it’s open 24/7.
Like many boutique hotels, even the elevators here have a lot of personality: their interiors are bright, whimsical, and highly embellished.
Our favorite common area – reserved exclusively for hotel guests – is the Library just off the lobby on the hotel’s main floor. There’s an honor bar, lots of books to peruse, and over-sized sofas and arm chairs perfect for hanging out and lounging around. You could even do it in your chic PJs and slippers.
There’s whimsical art throughout the Whitby, including on the bathroom walls, so you can’t miss it. We loved the global feel of it – many of the paintings featured people of color, and the whole vibe is cheerful, embracing and inclusive.
Our room was lovely – and also quite large for a Manhattan property. The thoughtful decor gave it the feel of a guest room in the private home of a sophisticated and smart friend. Soft grey, white and pops of tomato red comprised the color scheme of our particular room, but each one is different. Fashionista friends, take note, they even included a dress form for us as a reminder that we’re in one of the world’s great fashion capitals.
The mini-bar was well-stocked with food and drink, and the closet had ample hangars, a vibrant orange and blue logo’d umbrella (expect to see people swiping those — they’re super-cute), and plenty of storage space.
All of that was nice, but it was the charming wooden secretary tucked in a corner and stocked with a curated selection of hardcover books that really made us swoon for The Whitby.
We were already infatuated, even before seeing what was on the shelves. Then we saw that two of our absolutely favorite novels, books that we have listed in our Recommended Reads – The Newlyweds and The Essex Serpent were among them. That’s when it became true love. They really get us! They like the same books that we do! OMG. We want to live here.
We have a friend who is obsessed with the size of the bathrooms in high-priced luxury hotels in New York. She’s frequently disappointed. This one should pass her test: it’s huge. And well thought-out. There’s a graceful free-standing tub with a video monitor set into the wall at eye level, so you can soak in a bubble-bath and binge-watch at the same time. Livin’ the dream.
The hotel has its own line of bath products and fragrances designed by Kit Kemp, called RikRak. They’re really special: the Gardenia Greenleaf fragrance is yummy, the hand soap is thick and rich, and the complimentary pillow spray the hotel provides sent us off to the land of Nod with a smile on our faces (why don’t more luxury hotels provide something like that?)
All of these products, and more, are for sale in the lobby and online, and it occurs to us that they would make for perfect hostess gifts, or holiday gifts, or self gifts. You get the idea. They’re really nice. And the packaging is adorable.
food and drink
Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you should definitely have a meal there. The dining room, which has three separate areas — the Bar, the main dining room, and the Atrium — is a wonderful place for a business meal or private tete-a-tete.
Above the Bar hangs a collection of woven baskets, which lends a Casablanca air to the proceedings.
The main dining room is filled with fresh flowers and a mash-up of floral prints.
our favorite spot
As lovely as the other dining areas are, we think the Atrium is the most special of all.
We would never have been able to create such a space ourselves – but we really love it.
It’s suffused with natural by day, and as dusk settles in, the candlelight makes for a golden ambiance.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the coffee is really hot and strong, just the way we like it. Who says the Brits only know how to make tea? The first cup of the day was a winner. Yaasss!
In sum, the Whitby is the Gucci of hotels: vibrant, cheerful, highly embellished, highly inclusive, and an absolute riot of color. A little eccentric, but warm and chic just the same. We know how wildly successful that aesthetic has been for Gucci — we suspect it will be the same here. We certainly hope so.
On our list of the best luxury hotels in the world, the Whitby in New York is near the top.
As the great Brit Oliver Twist once said: More, please.
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