A refuge is exactly what you need on a visit to Manhattan, and the InterContinental New York Barclay, which has just undergone the most ambitious restoration in its history, delivers. When the New York Central Railroad, owned by the Vanderbilt family, decided to electrify its rail tracks and place them underground, it sparked a building boom on the street level in the area just north of Grand Central Terminal and invigorated midtown Manhattan development. New, sumptuous Park Avenue penthouses and gleaming skyscrapers were erected. The Barclay, built in 1926, became one of the notable railroad hotels to service the well-heeled men and women travelling to New York City.
The Barclay is around the corner from everything—just a quick stroll to Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center and Times Square. Each day, when we arrived “home” after doing the tourist things with a first-time Manhattan visitor, we truly appreciated the quiet elegance of the lobby’s fresh flowers and its attentive staff. Lingering memories of the room include fine linens and fragrant best quality toiletries. Club Intercontinental is worth the upgrade as it includes an extensive choice of gourmet breakfast options, table service, afternoon tea, and complementary evening drinks and light bites in the private lounge. Even if you aren’t staying at the Barclay next time you visit Manhattan, it’s worth it to pop in for a drink at the Gin Parlour, where 88 premium gins and house made tonic are served. The house Gin & Tonic, infused with lemon grass and artfully presented, bestows a renewed appreciation for this classic cocktail.
Now, if you’re also doing that touristy thing while you’re there, here’s our list of must-dos: lunch at Carnegie Deli, a visit to one of the iconic department stores, a Broadway play, dinner in Little Italy, a rooftop bar. Seeing Lady Liberty from the water was emotionally moving; the inexpensive New York Water Taxi ticket makes a loop to see it, along with One World Center, and the famous bridges and buildings. We stayed on for an extra stop to get off at One World Center. And perhaps the best of all was the tour of Central Park; we opted for the less expensive electric-assisted pedicab instead of the horse drawn carriage for the full tour. Choosing between the Central Park BoatHouse or Tavern on the Green will be a hard choice, but dining at one of these is definitely on the list for our next Big Apple weekend. Be sure to check out the nearby Ritz and the Plaza Hotels near the park. It is worth a $16 cocktail as price of admission just to experience these. Last but not least, stay an extra few days and take a side trip to The Hamptons for great beaches, gorgeous estate homes, lots of American history, great seafood, wineries, chic boutiques and celebrity-watching.