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HGU New York

From the perfect beauty sleep in the city that never sleeps to bold flavours to 'unfailingly charming' service, HGU New York really does come out on top, says Kat McAthley

The credentials:

In the city that never sleeps—where glowing billboards, blaring sirens, perpetual traffic, buskers, street-food vendors and the general cacophony of life all yell as loudly as each other—you’d be forgiven for not instantly noticing the stylish (but decidedly un-showy) exterior of the HGU New York. Nestled in the trendy NoMad district (literally the area ‘North of Madison Square Gardens’), it couldn’t be better located as a base for an adventure in the Big Apple.

Inside this Beaux-Arts gem you will find 90 rooms and suites, as well as an excellent restaurant, low-lit bar, and an all-important roof terrace for late night cocktails. Open for business since 1905 (their motto is ‘110 years in the remaking’), there is a distinctly pre-war feel to some of the hotel’s design features (check out its ornately plastered ceilings or tiled bathrooms to see what I mean) matched to the kind of modernity and cutting-edge cool that only New York can boast.

Well-chosen works of modern art (all by local New York artists) line the corridors and lounge area, combining with colourful and moody lighting to create the feeling that you’re entering an exclusive NY club rather than a luxury hotel.


Pleasingly for those of you that share with bed-hoggers (or, like me, you’re a single traveller who really loves to sprawl) all rooms at the HGU are Queen size and above. Bear in mind that this applies to bed space rather than floor space; the bed really does monopolise the room here, at least in the standard Queen-sized room (but this is New York—if you were looking forward to space I’d pick a different city).

Bed aside, though, there is still room for a small desk—for the business traveller—and a tucked-away armoire, where you’ll also find your minibar. Not to mention there was flat screen HDTV as big as the wall!

Designed by Asfour Guzy, the bedrooms are tasteful, modern and unfussy, with a comfortably ‘residential’ edge to them that helps you feel at home. If you’re amongst the technology-dependent, there’s plenty to keep you happy; from a wireless charging port to your own in-room iPad. And I’ve already touched on the tasteful pre-war-feeling bathrooms (by Toto, Grohe and Porcelanosa), complete with gorgeous waterfall showers and generously stocked with CO Bigelow toiletries.

When it comes to that all-important sleep, I couldn’t have been happier! The Sealy Posturpedic mattress makes sleeping a deep-dreamy delight, not to mention you have the option of soft, medium and firm pillows already in your room. I wasn’t even aware of our near-silent aircon, until I realised that it had kept us
effortlessly cool during a 28-degree stay without so much as a whisper.


They say it’s impossible to eat badly in New York, and at the HGU you don’t even need to leave your hotel to test the theory. The Restaurant at Rose Hill, from executive chef Keith Geter, is the HGU’s inhouse eatery and specialises in serving American dishes in a small plate fashion (they themselves describe it as ‘elevated casual’); from carpaccio to pasta to pizzette, all done with a fine-dining twist. Each plate, bursting with flavour and elegance, is a tiny snapshot of much that makes dining in New York exceptional. Some of the combinations were complete firsts for my palate, but I loved everything I tried, and if you’re a fan of big, bold flavours you will be as well.

It’s also possible to snack at either the small but achingly cool Rose Hill Lounge, or on the roof terrace.

Who goes there?

This is definitely one for the young and trendy market! Our fellow guests seemed to be either couples in their 20s and 30s or largish groups of friends travelling together. I would say it’s also an excellent fit for the solo or business traveller. Families might struggle, however, with its slightly limited choice of room sizes.

Out & about:

Whatever you want to do, eat, drink, see, you will be able to do it in New York, and at any time of the day or night; so, with the HGU pretty much slap bang in the middle of Manhattan, you couldn’t be better-placed to explore the city. Just within walking distance are the architectural delights of the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station, world-famous art gallery MoMA, as well as some of NY’s most iconic skyscrapers: the Empire State Building, the Chrysler and the Rockefeller Centre.

If you want to go further afield and you’re feeling brave enough for the subway, the HGU has a station practically on the corner. But of course, the stream of cabs nearby is relentless and hailing one is easy.

The worst thing:

As mentioned above, the bedrooms at the HGU aren’t exactly roomy. I do recognise this is New York; you want to be out and about, spending time in a large hotel room isn’t exactly top of the agenda. But the lack of a chest of drawers for those wanting to unpack might prove problematic if you intend to stay for a few days (and have more clothes than will fit in the compact wardrobe).

The best thing:

Even in a country renowned for its excellent customer service, the HGU really does come out on top. From the delightful woman who carted our horrifically heavy bags upstairs, to the chatty barman who threw in our second drinks for free without asking because ‘I could have done them better’, the staff at the HGU were unfailingly charming and helpful.

The details:

Rooms start at £230

HGU New York, 34 E 32nd St, New York City, NY, 10016-5503; www.hgunyc.com

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