Good hotels are a dime-a-dozen in Manhattan, so an establishment needs real pizzazz to stand out. For me, The Carlton is one of those hotels that outshines its competitiors, and it does so by virtue of its superb location – bang in the middle of Madison Avenue and its supremely comfy beds (more on that later). Hotel after hotel has opened recently in New York, and in comparison, at over a century old, The Carlton is a veritable grande-dame located in the heart of elegant Midtown Manhattan. The original Harry Allen Jacobs design underwent a multi-million dollar transformation under the direction of Henry Rockwell, who married the original classic décor including herringbone patterned word floors, distressed paneling and antique mirrors with sensitive modern updates to create an intoxicating cocktail of old-world luxury blended with crisp modern elegance. Passing through the revolving glass doors which lead you into the Carlton Hotels lobby, you instantly feel as if you are in the right place to have a lot of fun in New York City. Extremely helpful and charming doormen and receptionists greet you warmly, as you descend the marble spiral stairs into the cool, Beaux-Arts style lobby. The look that Rockwell sought to achieve refined decadence is in sympathy with its arty surroundings in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. I am shown to my executive king suite a spacious room, filled with natural light, with gorgeous creamy leather furnishings, high ceilings and a blissfully comfortable bed. I was informed on the room tour that some guests have declared the beds so comfortable that they have placed orders for one on check-out. After one night of unsurpassed slumber, my fiance and I can see why. The bed is not just low, well dressed and supremely comfortable, but served by brilliant lighting swivelable fixtures with strong bulbs. I later enquired about the make of the bed. Felipe Fernandez, the delightful Guest Experience Manager, informed me that I had slept on a Presidential Suite Serta Mattress; a fact that I have noted and plan to capitalise on at the nearest opportunity. The bathroom is modern, and complete with all the usual mod cons (including, unusually for New York, where time and space are in scant supply, separate shower and bath) and Molton Brown toiletries. Rooms are reasonably priced, with a standard room starting at around $299 a night, including free WIFI. Nowhere in Manhattan is cheap, after all, and here the impeccable service, great views and location will soften the blow to the bank balance. The Carltons concierge service was one of the best I have ever experienced. The team booked amazing experiences for us on a daily basis none of which were in the guidebooks helping us access hidden treasures of the city pulled from extensive knowledge of the city, combined with our esoteric preferences (vegan restaurants and quirky pet shops amongst them). I should also note that the Museum of Sex, which happens to be the museum closest in location to the hotel, is exceptionally good and well worth a visit. Breakfast on room service was promising: piping hot coffee (but with cold milk), good crunchy muesli with sliced banana and blueberries, and New York State honey. Dinner, at the hotels fantastic seafood brasserie, Millesime, was even better. The food was phenomenal. We were treated to some of the finest fresh, seasonal fish sourced from local waters and nearby farms, prepared with French flair under the expert supervision of Chef Laurent Manrique. I would particularly recommend the Cassoulet de lotte (roasted monkfish with white beans, pork belly and seafood sausage) the chefs signature dish – which consists of an impressive 19 different ingredients. It is one of the most beautiful and surprisingly healthy dishes I have ever tasted. The price of a three course meal for two with a cocktail each comes in at around $200. It isnt a cheap dining experience but apart from the cocktails, everything else was reasonably priced for the quantity and high quality of the food we received. In addition to the stylishly and thoughtfully designed ubermodern fitness centre (which provides complimentary earphones and refreshingly fridge-chilled towels), The Carlton has another couple of other strings to its bow – a lobby and mezzanine level bars (Salon Millesime and Bar Mille, respectively). Live music acts perform nightly at the former, and Bar Mille, which is reminiscent of an old Parisian parlour replete with fin-de-siècle burlesque images, is a fantastic spot for people-watching and nightcaps. The lobby is frequently used as a filming location it has appeared, for instance, in series including The Good Wife, Curb Your Enthusiasm and the film Bachelorette.
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