We booked a 3 night stay here based on what has become a potent trifecta for most of our travel decisions: enticing rate from a private sale website, good TA reviews, and the hotel's own website. We actually tried 2 hotels and neighbourhoods for this trip--we went south to the Cooper Square Hotel (see separate review) after the Surrey.
I have actually been to this location twice in the past--both times to dine at the restaurant, first when it was Daniel (Daniel Boulud first opened Daniel here before moving to its larger location on East 65th), and then when it was Cafe Boulud. I knew there was a hotel adjacent, but really took no notice. The furthest north we've previously stayed on the Upper East Side was the Pierre on 61st. Thanks to a huge ($60 million and 14 months, I was told) renovation of this former 1926 residence hotel, you now cannot help but notice the Surrey. It reopened in 11/09. It is a quietly elegant UES find; a place to consider alongside the neighbouring Carlyle and Mark hotels. The UES is decidedly upscale, mostly residential. Central Park and Madison Ave. boutiques are a short stroll away, as is the subway stop and Lenox Hill Hospital.
The remodel, by Rottet Studio, is meant to evoke an NYC townhouse "passed down through generations, keeper of a lifetime of memories". It is simultaneously modern and nostalgic. The marble lobby is of good size, with a tapestry of Kate Moss adorning one wall (I think the art installations rotate). Cafe Boulud is on one side, Bar Pleiades (a stylish lounge) on the other. Both have outdoor seating.
I had asked for a street-facing room; ours was a corner room with windows on 2 sides plus the bathroom, so lots of light. It faced Madison Ave. with its New York symphony of honking horns, which thankfully usually took an all night intermission. Rooms facing 76th are probably quieter, although there was street work being done during our stay. The room was the smallest offered--a Deluxe Salon--but was still of decent size, with all the amenities of the next room category (Grand Deluxe Salon), except it was not as long, the 2 chairs were smaller, and there was one bathroom sink vs. 2. Done up in shades of gray with touches of brown, a filigree pattern is echoed in the carpet, pillows, glassware, drapes and A/C unit screen. The minibar is extensive, with large bottles of liquors--there is a Boulud Cocktail program where a mixologist will come to your room with enough accoutrements for 4-5 drinks and mix them up for you. The TV is high def with innumerable channels, including music and an IPod dock. The room light switches are unique--they control all the lights based on the time of day. Rizzoli coffee table books. Cute desk with lift top to hold stationery. Room service menu with some selections from Boulud. The marble bathroom had fantastic lighting, making the magnifying mirror unflinchingly honest. No tub, but a large shower with 2 perfect heads. Pratesi robes.
The spa (which we did not try), fitness center and business center are on the 2nd floor. On the roof, or penthouse level, there is a fabulous outdoor garden/patio open to guests only, with a view of Central Park. It is open seasonally, weather permitting, from about noon well into the night, and is a great place for a drink (they specialize in lemonades muddled with any variety of fruits and herbs, with or without vodka), or a bite to eat (select items from the In-room dining menu). We had lunch reservations at Cafe Boulud one day, but had to cancel, unfortunate especially because Restaurant Week this summer was extended to Labor Day. We did breakfast there one morning and did le petit dejeuner l'express buffet. Consider dressing up for lunch and certainly for dinner.
Service was uniformly outstanding and congenial from reception to housekeeping, with everyone extending a greeting as you passed by. We did not require the services of the concierge, but the head concierge is a member of Les Clefs d'Or. The nattily suited, tall Asian staff member with whom I casually conversed by the elevator at the roof garden turned out to be , I discovered later, none other than General Manager Spencer Wadama. Had I known, I would have complimented him on taking the time to personally respond to each TA review.
Lastly, a few glitches. We arrived in a light rain, bet there was no umbrella in the room. The lobby ran out of umbrellas before 10:30am, so I had to go up and get the (small) one I had fortunately packed. The room also had no lint brush or shoe horn, things I use if they are around, but they were probably available on request. The leaky toilet that left an unseen puddle on the floor necessitated a change of pants. I was told there was no house car, although a TA review mentioned one. Also mentioned in TA reviews is the 50 cents/minute charge for internet use in the business center--ridiculous!
We've tried many NY hotels and neighbourhoods over the years, and the Surrey ranks highly among them. Its smaller size, personal service, style and location are all winning, and we would gladly return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The #1 hotel in New York City as voted by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, The Surrey is a discreet escape on Manhattan's Upper East Side Steps from Central Park, world-class museums, and Madison Avenue shopping, the hotel features Cornelia Spa and Daniel Boulud's Michelin-starred Café Boulud. It is New York City's only Relais & Châteaux hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Surrey Hotel New York City
- Surrey Hotel New York City
- Surrey Suite Hotel
- Surrey New York City