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Conrad New York, USA

Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, the 25-acre Battery Park takes its name from the military units that once protected this now high-rise part of town. Decades before Ellis Island opened to process incomers, the Battery was where Europe s tired, poor and huddled masses first arrived in what was then the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. In recent years, the gardens and waterfront have drawn a new wave of incomers financial workers and young families. This might seem a disparate mix but the park is moments from Wall Street and the One World Trade Center complex where Santiago Calatrava s transit hub has just opened as well as retaining an air of green tranquillity, making it an attractive place to live. Since 9/11, the financial district has rebounded, and among the new buildings in the area s shifting landscape is the Conrad New York, the luxury elder sibling of the Hilton brand.

It s primarily aimed at business travellers but is also attracting increasing numbers of weekenders and bleisure seekers. The hotel certainly doesn t feel corporate. The design is sleek and understated, with an emphasis on contemporary art the hotel displays more than 2,000 pieces. None is more spectacular than Sol LeWitt s Loopy Doopy sculpture, which is suspended from the lobby ceiling an impressive 10 storeys up. A new Stay Inspired programme offers an array of experiences, from visiting the top of the Once World Observatory to the city s best bars.

All 463 rooms are suites, so you re not squeezed for space in this infamously cramped city. Hudson-facing suites offer sweeping views of the river and Jersey City shoreline. On the ground floor, Atrio is a buzzy restaurant-cum-wine bar with a Mediterranean menu of stone-baked pizzas, pastas, paella and salads that take you from Greece to Lebanon via Spain and Italy. A breakfast highlight is the bruffin , a delicious but calorific muffin crossed with a brioche. Time to give it up, cronut. In summer, the rooftop bar, also called Loopy Doopy, is the place to be, with magnificent views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty; take it all in with the hotel s signature ice-lolly drink, topped up with prosecco and fresh fruit.

But in the city that never stops eating, let alone finding time to sleep, there s always somewhere else to seek out. I was meeting a friend and old flatmate at Gigino Trattoria, an excellent Italian restaurant in Tribeca. After dinner we walked to the West Village to meet up with friends at the Irish-inspired rather than themed bar, Hudson Hound, for some very strong drinks. With a Sunday evening flight home, and my one-man mission to eat my way around New York rapidly drawing to a close, there was just time for brunch at Bell Book & Candle in the West Village. It s another farm-to-table-type place, crowned with a rooftop vegetable garden. I indulged with bellinis and a patty melt, followed by blueberry pancakes to round off my Augustus Gloop adventure before heading to the airport.

The fun didn t stop, though. I was flying out of Newark in New Jersey only 15 miles from Midtown and a damn sight less busy than JFK. La Compagnie, the boutique, business class-only carrier with 74-seater planes, has the right idea: regular flights from smaller airports close to where you want to be. Sadly I didn t get a chance to enjoy all the luxury as I fell asleep as soon as I d finished my champers.

Conrad New York, 102 North End Avenue, New York (001 212 945 0100; conradnewyork.com1; stayinspired.com2). Doubles from 156, room only.

La Compagnie operates daily business class flights from Luton to Newark from 1,100 return (020 3481 1575; lacompagnie.com3).

References

  1. ^ conradnewyork.com (www.conradnewyork.com)
  2. ^ stayinspired.com (conradhotels3.hilton.com)
  3. ^ lacompagnie.com (www.lacompagnie.com)
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