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Central park style: upscale Art Deco accommodation in the big apple.

WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING FOR quality real estate, the watchword is "location, location, location." The same can be said of any hotel, especially in New York City. Manhattan is one of the world s great cities precisely because its identity is so closely linked to its architectural landmarks and scenic qualities, which, no matter how urban, evoke a sense of charm and romance rivaled only by Paris or London. When it conies to location in Manhattan, the pearl in the oyster is Central Park, And the prime end of that artful oasis is Central Park South.

Central Park South is a. parade of attractions, from Columbus Circle at Eighth Avenue on the west, to Grand Army Plaza and the Plaza Hotel at Fifth Avenue on the east. In between is a procession of horse-drawn carriages and yellow cabs, and four lovely entrances to the park, where the loops and drives take you through lush vegetation and past granite outcrops. The Pond provides a picturesque respite (one of seven bodies of water designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as part of their pastoral fantasy). With its quaint stone bridge and wooded nature sanctuary, the Pond may be just steps from high-end shopping on Fifth Avenue, but at its shores you can find peace and solitude, watch the ducks, and wonder, like Holden Caulfield, where they go in the winter. The ducks stay within the ecosystem of the park, but perhaps the lucky ones venture across the road to the luxurious Jumeirah Essex House!

In a city full of iconic structures, Jumeirah Essex House, which shares the same vintage as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State, was one of New York City's first landmark hotels when it opened, 44 stories high, in 1931. Now, though, it has become one of the city's last--the nearby Plasa Hotel, capitulating to market forces, was redeveloped for hotel condos in 2005. The Essex House remains strictly a luxury hotel: Its gorgeous original gilded facade still welcomes weary travelers from around the world; its guest rooms have been tastefully updated (most recently in 2007 with a $90 million renovation), but the exemplary Art Deco lobby has been immaculately preserved; and the distinctive, six-story 1930s-style red rooftop sign still proudly crowns the stepped structure. It is, thankfully, a National Trust Historic Hotel, and its Art Deco aesthetic is what makes Jumeirah Essex House a destination hotel. The metropolis blossomed around it in the pre-war era, and many of its public masterpieces belong to that time. Today, you can still soak up that atmosphere by ordering afternoon tea in the lobby or having an opulent Sunday brunch, just as Central Park strollers did back then.

The hotel is a favorite with world leaders and celebrities recently, I passed Morgan Freeman, a celebrity who has played world leaders, on the way to the elevators), and there is a feeling of exclusivity when you check in and receive an escort to your well-appointed room (with perhaps a breathtaking birds-eye view of the foliage in Central Park). Your room may look like a ser from a Jean Harlow movie, but it comes with high-speed Internet and premium-channel cable television.

With 20,000 restaurants to choose from in the five boroughs of New York City, it may seem odd to dine at the hotel, but the food and wine at South Gate are worth staying in for. The cuisine by chef Kerry Heffernan (formerly of Danny Meyer s Eleven Madison Park) is simple-yet-elegant modern American; the cocktails are delicious; and the international wine selection, featuring 1,200 bottles, covers all price points and palates (you also get to make your selection from nifty iPad menus).

To burn those calories, visit the fitness center, with its state-of-the-art cardiovascular and strangth-training equipment. For those who want to indulge their senses, the in-house spa has an inspired selection of massage treatments (including the best deep-tissue massage experience I've ever had). I especially liked it that they feature Australian-based Sodashi products, which are available in New York only at Jumeirah Essex House.

Because this is a luxury hotel, you might be checking in for a special occasion, and the hotel can provide you with all the amenities for your own fairytale lesbian wedding (not to mention proximity to the park for a photo shoot). For a union themed on classic glamour, you could have your reception in the Grand Salon, the embodiment of Beaux-Arts opulence, with its gold-leaf-accented ceiling, crystal chandeliers and hand-painted murals of French gardens. The adjacent Petit Salon provides a more intimate venue, and both salons are accessible at street level, with their own private entrance from Central Park South. The wedding team can assist you in creating the perfect day, sharing over 40 years of expertise in etiquette and event flow.

And if you can't bear to leave your four-legged babies at home while you enjoy your nights away, bring them with you. Jumeirah Essex House is delighted to offer them an equally luxurious stay, thanks to the Canine Turndown Program's in-room pet amenities, including a Wagwear dog bed with plush blanket, homemade dog treats created by the hotel's executive pastry chef, food and water bowls with matching placemats, and stylish Wagwear collars and leashes, so you can leave all your own pet accessories at home, (jumeirah.com)

RELATED ARTICLE: NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

With its convenient midtown location, Essex House is close to;

* Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping

* The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, the Whitney Museum

* Lincoln Center Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall

* Times Square, Broadway, and the Theatre District

* Hell's Kitchen restaurants and gay bars

* Chelsea, the West Village, SoHo, and the High Line are a quick subway trip or cab ride away.
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Author:Johns, Merryn
Publication:Curve
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Words:957
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