Top Line

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Inside New York's most expensive hotel room at $55,000

 New York's Ty Warner penthouse suite

New York's most expensive hotel room at $55,000 a night, the Four Seasons penthouse offers extravagance beyond compare

AUGUST 28, 2015 12:22
Four Seasons New York
New York is awash with fancy hotel suites, but for sheer extravagance and expense, none tops the Ty Warner penthouse in Manhattan’s Four Seasons hotel.
A hotel since 1993, the 52-storey I.M. Pei-designed building was bought by Ty Warner (the billionaire who made his fortune from Beanie Babies toys)  in 1999. He set about creating an unparalleled penthouse suite that would serve as his private New York pied-à-terre, before electing to instead make it available to guests for the sum of $55,000 (£36,000) a night, meaning it is currently, and by some margin, the most expensive hotel room in the city.
Even the world’s richest would think carefully before investing that sum in a one-night stay, and Four Seasons New Yorkhas gone all out to ensure guests are left suitably impressed. Measuring some 4,300sq ft (400sq metres), the one-bedroom suite occupies the building’s entire top floor and every room is laden with antiquities, rarities and artworks.
Press are rarely permitted access, but I was able to tour the suite for half an hour earlier this month (if stays in the Ty Warner penthouse were charged by the hour that’d equate to a £750 charge). It’s an incredible space.
With this floor of the hotel only accessible to penthouse guests, the lift doors open directly into the suite. There on your left is the living room, with its ceilings rising up to 17ft high and a dining table for two set invitingly by floor-to-ceiling windows. Here the silk rug is enlaced with platinum threads and the sofa is woven with strands of silver and gold; decorated with a lotus blossom design, a Qing Dynasty lamp stands on a table top; more modern accoutrements are less conspicuous, with invisible speaker systems embedded in the room and a 42” TV set rendered unnoticeable by the scale of the room.
While it’s common practice for numerous luxury hotels to lessen rates in their most expensive suites should guests commit to a long-term stay, or to discount them significantly in return for the PR opportunities generated when an appropriate high-profile celebrity or musician spends the night, the Ty Warner penthouse is never offered for less than the listed price and is only occupied about 10 nights a year. It’s a given that celebrities, used to preferential treatment, won’t stay, and instead the customer base is made up primarily of visitors from the Middle East and Asia.
Tasteful furniture from that latter region and chinoiserie elements strewn throughout cater to that audience. Bleached tamo ash wood panels are found throughout, Meiji-era vases from Japan carry fantail and pussy willow, the heated bathroom floors are made of honeyed Chinese onyx.
The library is the room intended for entertaining. A Bosendorfer grand piano stands in one corner and bookshelves (made from translucent amber onyx) are crammed with classics and volumes on New York. (Strangely for this market, though, the same books are stocked irrespective of who stays. At theRosewood Hotel in London, for example,  the Manor House Suite’s library shelves are curated for each guest.) Once guests could gather here for cocktails at sunset with the golden-hued Chrysler and Empire State Buildings as backdrops, but no longer. New York’s tallest residential tower, the controversial 1,396ft building 432 Park Avenue has been erected directly beside the hotel and soars above it, obliterating the view from this side entirely. It was designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, the team behind London’s controversial Walkie Talkie skyscraper.
When the time comes to relax, then, guests might prefer to rest in the suite’s spa, where treatments on the ostrich leather-topped massage table can be provided by a hotel therapist, or to relax in the adjacent zen room, lush with foliage and incorporating its own waterfall embedded with semiprecious stones.
At night, guests can recline in an immense canopied bed dressed in velvet and satin sheets. One of many artworks strewn throughout, a nearby pre-Columbian sculpture in veined serpentine stone shows a man standing upright and dates from 600-300BC. By the desk, a Cape Cod telescope with maple tripod is trained on Central Park, which is visible in its entirety below.
Despite the interior’s opulence, it’s perhaps that vista that is the penthouse suite’s main selling point. Though London’s new generation of hotel “super suites” offer comparable luxuries at near-similar prices, few other cities can offer a panorama like this. For the handful of guests who might stay each year, it must feel as though they’re right in the centre of Manhattan, and on top of the world.