- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
In the immortal words of Kermit the Frog, “It’s not easy being green.” A hard lesson that more than a few well-meaning hoteliers have learned in the past.
Talking the talk is easy. Walking the walk is something far more complex indeed, for at properties like these, luxury cannot be forsaken in the name of eco-friendliness and sustainability. Heaven knows, there is nothing remotely luxurious about rough hemp sheets and a minibar full of kale and brussel sprout smoothies.
The creative people at 1 Hotels, however, have a gone a long way to getting the balance between luxury and eco-awareness exactly right. At the same time, they have come up with a truly unique concept that is well-executed in almost every respect. This really should not be a surprise though, as 1 Hotels shares its provenance with newly-launched Baccarat Hotels and is the love child of Barry Sternlicht and his Starwood (not to be confused with the hotel group of the same name) Capital Group.
What I really like about 1 Hotel Central Park, apart from its great location, is that it is super contemporary and, dare I say, brazenly hip. It’s warm, friendly and very welcoming, without compromising on style.
Well-crafted and genuinely unique hotel concepts are surprisingly hard to come by. And whilst New York has a plethora of great hotels, no matter how style-forward or supremely classic they may be, there is often a level of ‘sameness’. 1 Hotel Central Park breaks the mould with its eco-friendly concept, while not losing sight of luxury even for a nanosecond.
Unfortunately, I happened to strike upon one of those famously rude New York cabbies who think that customers are an annoying inconvenience. He unceremoniously dumped me, with my luggage, a block away from the hotel in the pouring rain. Needless to say, I took great joy in not tipping him.
And yet, almost immediately, a doorman came rushing down the street with an umbrella, took charge of my suitcase and ushered me into the lobby. I stopped for a moment and let the rain run down my coat while taking in the aura of the reception area, refreshingly different at first glance. The 1 Hotel concept is very ‘eco’; this particular property is about recycled timbers and greenery, and in homage to New York City, lots of exposed beams and ironwork. The result is immediately welcoming and quite wonderful.
As a reminder that guests and visitors are in fact in a hotel, there are large seating areas with wonderfully comfortable couches and chairs dotted about which is all very pleasant and cosy, the complete opposite to the usual hyper-hip designer hotel styles. Somehow here they can pull this warmth off without compromising on the contemporary feel and sophistication of the locale.
Front desk staff were extremely friendly and efficient and, unlike the hotel’s sister property in Miami, intelligent, well informed and in sync with who appeared to be some well-travelled guests.
Rooms and suites
I loved the room here where I stayed. Warm and welcoming, it was downright comfy and sexy at the same time. Rather like the converted warehouse apartment I’ve always wanted to own, it’s all recycled wood, large iron beams, exposed brickwork, and ultra-smooth concrete leading into an open-plan bathroom. A Nespresso machine and minibar are hidden away in wooden units. Industrial-style lighting throughout makes for a great atmosphere.
Yet the real star of this room is the wonderful window seat. It’s the perfect place to perch with your iPad and a glass of wine and watch Manhattan bustle about below you. I kept coming back to sit here and spectate throughout my stay.
Beds are supremely comfortable, in fact one of the most comfortable hotel beds I have ever slept in, featuring a hemp-blend, custom Keetsa mattress covered in swathes of 100% organic cotton bedding.
In room technology is hot. All room functions are controlled on a Nexus Android phone, the TV is 52” HD flat-screen, and internet speeds are lightning quick. Other devices, including the music system, all hook up via Bluetooth.
The bathroom and bedroom areas are divided by a large iron-framed, glass walk-in shower which can be enclosed by a large curtain for privacy if required. The bathroom itself is very smooth with concrete flooring, timber and a solid, concrete basin and vanity. It’s all very industrial looking; in fact beautiful in its simplicity.
Toiletries are the hotel’s own custom-made brand, offered in wonderfully large pump action bottles in the shower and on the vanity; no fiddling about in the shower trying to find a tiny shampoo bottle.
Jams is the brainchild of celebrity New York chef, Jonathan Waxman. The interior design is in keeping with the rest of the hotel, that is rustic New York chic, lots of exposed brick and iron work, dominated by a wonderful U-shaped bar.
Waxman’s food ethos is all about ‘farm to table’ with as much as possible sourced locally. He takes even the most humble dishes and creates simple, incredibly tasty and well presented food.
But don’t go expecting Michelin-star eats or for that matter groundbreaking cuisine. Jams isn’t either of these things. But what you will find is incredibly good food using exceptionally fresh, locally sourced ingredients that are contemporary but not fussy.
One small word of caution, if you are planning a quiet and romantic evening, don’t choose Jams. This is a popular and very busy restaurant and because of the somewhat industrial interior design, it is very noisy.
Service throughout dinner was excellent but sadly, the same could not be said about breakfast when no one was even around to refill my coffee cup.
Staff and service
Someone is doing something very right at this hotel. Service is ‘grown-up’ and intuitive, with the exception of breakfast that is. Mostly I found that staff are in-tune with the type of guest that chooses to stay in this style of hotel. They treat guests as intelligent individuals in a direct but very friendly New York sort of way.
Staff members constantly offered assistance and made sure I had everything I needed. Unprompted, they offered helpful information and were great ambassadors for the 1 Hotel brand. This was good service delivered by a well-trained and capable team.
Fellow guests were mostly couples and friends visiting New York for some pre-Christmas shopping and partying. Young, urban and hip, but not in that monochrome sort of way.
Super friendly and efficient; I really just did not want to leave.
How to get here
50 minutes by road from John F. Kennedy International Airport
229 rooms & suites