Ever since the Dutch paid the Lenape tribe a pittance for the island of Manhattan – just $24 worth of glass beads, so the legend goes – New York City has been defined by business transactions. For much of its history it was a centre of maritime trade, connecting the Old World with the interior of the New.
Over time, trade took more abstract forms – finance, media, technology and art – and New York grew in importance until it played an outsize role in virtually every industry of note. Today the city regularly tops the Global Economic Power Index. At last count it was home to 79 billionaires.
Geographically, business maps onto New York in a fairly straightforward manner. Lower Manhattan is home to Wall Street and the surrounding Financial District (FiDi). Moving north, you pass through TriBeCa, SoHo and NoHo, where many tech start-ups have set up camp (others are found across the East River in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Dumbo and beyond).
Passing 34th Street, you reach the Garment District, where fashion businesses are concentrated, and then Times Square, which is the magnet towards which newspapers, magazines and television networks have traditionally been drawn. Also called Midtown, this entire area is a dazzling grid of high-rise power where law firms mingle with multinationals.
New York is one of the easiest cities in the world to navigate but notorious traffic congestion means staying near your place of business is a wise approach. As such, this guide spotlights hotels scattered across the length of Manhattan. It offers tips for getting around. And it recognises a significant truth about New York: next to business, the most important thing here is having a good time.
The New York Edition
From legendary hotelier Ian Schrager, The New York Edition is akin to Soho House: one for the creative business professional. Opening last year, the converted clocktower has been filled with fashion, film and art. The floors feel like an upmarket apartment building, while the guestrooms are masterworks of luxurious comfort. Ask for one overlooking Madison Square Park.
Business facilities: No but the hotel has nearly 200 square metres of meeting/event space, including a 10-seat boardroom and studios. Multilingual secretarial staff are available.
Wi-fi: Free and fast throughout.
Food and wine: The Lobby Bar, with its wall of amber glass, is a smart-casual spot for coffee or cocktails. Up the spiral staircase is The Clocktower, which serves fine British cuisine by executive chef Jason Atherton. The billiards room is a place to be seen, as is the stunning Gold Bar.
Fitness and wellbeing: The reasonably well-equipped gym is open 24 hours for guests. Personal training sessions can be organised on request. The Urban Spa offers two treatment rooms and oxygen inhalation therapy to help overcome jet lag.
Run route Head six blocks east to East River Greenway then turn north to reach the United Nations Headquarters. A round trip is about six kilometres.
5 Madison Avenue, Flatiron District
Four Seasons Hotel New York
Little things add up to make the 52-floor Four Seasons Hotel New York a perennial favourite: 368 oversize rooms (averaging 56 square metres), a chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom available for drop-offs and the terrific smartphone app that enables speedy check-in and room customisation requests (extra pillows, eye masks and so on). Some specialty suites have terraces and the penthouse has a grand piano. Guestrooms are being progressively renovated so ask for a newer one facing Central Park.
Business facilities: Business services are available 24 hours. You can even request a printer for your room.
Wi-fi: Complimentary but high-speed wi-fi costs $US25 a day.
Food and wine: The lobby features the newly updated TY Bar and The Garden restaurant. Both are good for meetings, though you may have to wait for a table during peak hours.
Fitness and wellbeing: A huge gym with state-of-the-art equipment and certified trainers on request offers everything you could need. L.Raphael Beauty Spa includes a hair salon and nail stations. Men looking for a hot towel shave will find plenty of options in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Run route: Central Park is one block away. A full loop of the park on the dedicated running trail is almost 10 kilometres.
57 East 57th Street, Midtown East
SEE ALSO: Explore Central Park in Winter
Mandarin Oriental New York￼
Starting on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center, Mandarin Oriental towers over most New York hotels – figuratively and literally. Its 244 rooms and suites are spacious and warm, tailored for the business traveller with multi-line phones and generous desks. The Shops at Columbus Circle, possibly the city’s most upmarket mall, is conveniently located below. Ask for a Central Park view for the best outlook.
Business facilities: The business centre feels like a private club and features a dedicated staff member and a full boardroom.
Wi-fi: Complimentary for suite guests and $US15 per 24 hours for guests staying in other rooms.
Food and wine: The Lobby Lounge is a popular spot for meetings, as are MObar and Asiate, a modern-American restaurant populated with 3000 bottles of wine. Downstairs in the mall are the legendary Per Se and Masa; have the concierge phone ahead for a reservation at either.
Fitness and wellbeing: There are yoga mats in every room, plus a wealth of facilities: high-tech fitness centre, 23-metre lap pool, personal trainers and running buddies on request. The Mandarin Oriental has one of only two five-star spas in New York. The dedicated gentlemen’s menu offers facials and half-day retreats.
Run route: Columbus Circle is on the corner of Central Park but, for a change of scenery, head west and then north along the Hudson River to Riverside Park.
80 Columbus Circle, Manhattan
Conrad New York￼
When Conrad New York opened on the edge of the Financial District several years ago, it brought a much-needed touch of luxury to Lower Manhattan. The hotel’s 15-storey lobby is a giant aquarium-like cavern finished with a Sol LeWitt mural called Loopy Doopy but this is a serious hotel aimed at business professionals. That said, the hotel has devised one-, three- and five-hour itineraries to help you navigate the highlights.
Business facilities: Yes and there’s more than 2700 square metres of customisable meeting space.
Wi-fi: Complimentary but high-speed wi-fi costs $US14.95 a day for up to three devices.
Food and wine: Atrio Wine Bar & Restaurant is located in the lobby. Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar is popular in summer for its view of the Hudson River and prosecco ice-pops (and guests get preferential access). Just down the block is Le District, a vast French food court.
Fitness and wellbeing: The 24-hour fitness centre is modest but Conrad New York has a partnership with a nearby Equinox gym. There is no spa but the on-site barber shop is run by a man who’s had a Goldman Sachs following for more than 20 years. Ask him for a story.
Run route: Conrad New York offers direct access to the Hudson River Greenway. Running north to Chelsea Market and back is about seven kilometres.
102 North End Avenue, Lower Manhattan