In lieu of a private jet, there are few better ways to arrive in Manhattan than by helicopter, whistling you over the rooftops and traffic jams from JFK to Midtown, depositing you in under seven minutes at BLADE Airport, and just moments away from Aman New York, my home on a whistle-stop tour of the Big Apple.
It’s a fitting mode of transport when a hotel of this calibre awaits. Sitting pretty at the edge of Billionaire’s row, at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, Aman New York’s address is as storied as the building it has claimed its own – the historic Warren & Wetmore–designed Beaux-Arts Crown Building, formerly the first home of MoMA back in the 1920s. Bergdorf Goodman sits in front, Central Park just a few blocks away and Fifth Avenue’s holy grail of high-fashion boutiques all within easy credit card reach.
Opened just last August, Aman New York has quickly become the epitome of residential refinement wrapped up in a hotel. While the entrance is relatively unassuming, it belies the depth of what lies beyond, starting with a crackling fireplace that gives off homely feels as you’re transported from ground floor up to the 14th-floor reception, where all the action happens. Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston Architects, the renovations have created an oasis of quietude in the pulsating heart of Midtown Manhattan. Not an easy feat, but a roaring success. With Aman’s signature minimalism in mind, and centred around Japan-influenced aesthetics, the result is chic and exclusive with layer upon layer of whispered luxury. With a vision to create somewhere to call home whenever you’re in New York, its townhouse vibe is warm and welcoming, but with an air of decadence and mystery, thanks to its dark palette, shadowed corridors and soft lighting.
Coined the most expensive hotel in Manhattan, with some of the largest suites in the city, you can imagine the finishings. Rich textures everywhere you turn, silk screens, dark woods, hand-painted wall murals, fresh cherry blossoms throughout –Asian chic as only Aman knows how.
All 83 of its suites are furnished with fireplaces, and 718 square feet to a whopping 2,800 square feet. My Premier Suite on 57th Street stretches out over a roomy 815 square feet, with each inch designed to capitalise on both space and comfort. It has pivoting louvre-doors between bedroom and bathroom, double vanity sinks, a huge soaking tub, a disappearing TV (my favourite) and an easy-to-use iPad that gives complete control over the room, should you want it, or regular light switches for those with tech-fatigue. The sound-proof windows and blackout blinds prove essential when blocking out the city’s soundtrack.
Space is placed at great value in every room across every floor, with double-height ceilings in the reception, to vast pillars and floor-to-ceiling windows in the Lounge Bar, to a building-long Garden Terrace overlooking 57th Street, a three-storey spa that spans 25,000 square feet, and a 20-metre swimming pool on the 10th floor.
Exclusively commissioned artworks have similar sizeable impact, with a 10-metre modular copper wall installation by Federico Gori called Mirroring Gardens, an enormous recycled cardboard artwork by Brazilian artist Domingos Tótora, and a fiery giant bamboo and paper sculpture by Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar that floats above the atrium. One particular in-suite artwork is fashioned out of meteor dust, as you do. Wow-factor elements that are filled with confidence yet never overly showy. The crowd is as well-heeled as you’d imagine, pulling in New Yorkers in need of hushed urban respite, a place to decamp to in between meetings, or for sophisticated after-dark rendezvous. It’s the kind of place you come to and won’t need to leave, such is its at-home mindset where everything imaginable is on tap.
Take the spa for example... Book an early morning sweat sesh in the fitness centre, with its Power Gym concept and all-out Technogym gear; Then strip down at the spa for two minutes of ice-cold clarity in the Cryotherapy Chamber; Reward yourself with an Aman Advanced Facial; Then slip into the cerulean pool before curling up on a fireplace-flanked daybed. See, hours gone by in a blink of an eye.
Then there’s Aman New York’s restaurant scene, where Arva celebrates the southern Italian tradition of cucina del raccolto, and a simple side dish of char-grilled brussel sprouts becomes a talking point for days; Nama, which centres around washoku - an UNESCO-protected culinary tradition of Japan - plates up sushi and sashimi, with omakase served at a Japanese Hinoki wooden counter. And then there’s The Jazz Club, with Aman’s take on the quintessential speakeasy bar: underground, clandestine and unquestionably cool. A late night eases into an early morning, with cocktails sipped to the spine-tingling tones of Emily Braden. Refined, riotous fun all in one.
Distinguishing itself as more than a hotel, Aman New York is certainly in a class of its own. Polished and urban to the core, but homely at its heart. It dances to a different beat, presiding over this iconic city whilst creating a new vision for hotel hospitality along the way. Who will follow?
FROM THE BIG APPLE TO...
Swap the sidewalks of New York for the silky sands of Turks and Caicos, where Amanyara serves as the perfect weekend bolthole for city dwellers in search of island living. Perched on the northwest coast of Providenciales island, the Caribbean paradise is just a four-hour flight from JFK, meaning you can sip matcha lattes on Fifth Avenue at breakfast and refreshing coconuts on the beach at sundown, such is the ease of travel.
From Providenciales airport, you can hop in a private car with the charismatic Fitzroy, with Bob Marley on the speakers, and we ruminate about rum punch, while he provides a running commentary on the history of this British West Indies enclave. Or, to rock up in style, customised private jet arrivals to the island can be co-ordinated too. Made up of eight islands and 40 small cays, Turks and Caicos is paradise on steroids, with the third largest coral reef in the world, some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen, and buildings painted everything from coral pink to sunflower yellow to sky blue.
Providenciales is the most populated of the islands, but Amanyara has secured a spot on the more undeveloped side of the island, where a dirt track winds its way from road to resort. Amanyara sits on the shores of an 18,000-acre nature reserve with its white-sand beach, limestone coastline and rocky coves overlooking the waters of Northwest Point Marine National Park, known for its wall and reef diving.
An arrival is never ‘just an arrival’ with Aman, with what feels like the whole staff turned out to welcome new guests. We’re gently ushered to Villa One, a Five-Bedroom Beach Sala Villa – one of 20 Amanyara Villas and 36 timber-shingled pavilions that comprise the accommodation. Set back from the ocean and centred around an inky black infinity pool and a reflective pond feature, the villa weaves in and out of nature, with hummingbirds and yellow butterflies making the most of the native island greenery. Privacy is something Aman does well, and save from the beach that lies beyond, you can stay tucked away for as long as you want.
The designs mirror Aman’s quest for excellence amidst minimalism, where wooden flooring, desks and bed frames are flanked by three glass walls, allowing of maximum light flow, with muted tones of cream and taupe contrasting against the enveloping greenery. An indoor rain shower plays second fiddle to my outdoor bathtub, that requires a starlit soak each evening.
The villa has a dedicated chef, the unwaveringly talented Ishara, and a villa host Jeff, whose inimitable approach to service is stealth-like and intuitive, always with a ready smile. Each morning my pot of tea waits for me – warm soya milk on the side – before I’ve even asked. It’s the small, personal touches that have the biggest impact.
The beauty of Amanyara is that each villa is replete with so much space, it becomes almost like a resort within a resort. We swim in the morning, and do Pilates on the terrace, eat exotic fruits and the freshest avocado, sipping coffee overlooking the ocean. Then collect shells along the powder-white beach and kayak through the glassy water, before watching the sun set from our private beach sala, all without leaving our Villa One bubble. One morning we even spot whales gliding past, blow-holes dappling the water-coloured scenery.
But there’s always time to explore and weaving around Amanyara’s pathways leads to the unexpected. Namely a Nature Discovery Centre, with its Learn to Sail Academy, Swim Camp and conservation lessons; a Clubhouse is stocked with all manner of games and even a cinema; and Amanyara Spa, which could be in the Everglades, set amidst winding waterways and rustling leaves. The landscaping and lush vegetation are beautiful, allowing guests to lean into the peace. We meditate on the terrace with Amanyara’s resident wellness manager Toby Maguire, gifted the feeling of floating on water, before being introduced to the spa’s Wellness Immersions, each following a programme of physical and mental practices to help guests shift focus inwards and guide them towards inner peace. It’s impossible to feel anything other than peaceful here, but this is Amanyara’s way of helping you bottle a bit of its serenity to take home.
Days build around a rhythm of lazy lie-ins and active hours; segueing from sunbathing by the resort’s 164-foot infinity pool made from black volcanic rock, to cruising through the aquamarine waters to find the best snorkelling and dive sites along the 27-kilometre barrier reef. Siestas are had, books are read, and the world put to rights under a Caribbean sky.
Seafood features heavily on our culinary exploration, with grilled conch the dish du jour, served at The Beach Club with cilantro, peppers and plantain, with just a hint of citrus mix. At The Restaurant, our table is perched on the rocks for dinner with a view, tiki torches lighting a path through the Pampas grass, the night sky blanketed with diamonds. Black cod and barramundi in banana leaf vie for attention with salmon maki and yellowtail usuzukuri. Plant-based dishes are cooked to order, with as much care and creativity as everything else. Bambarra rum and I-Ain-Ga-Lie beer also make a daily appearance; the former summarising the spirit and culture of Turks and Caicos in every sip, and the latter locally-brewed by Turks Head Brewery – both on Providenciales.
If you want to explore the island beyond Amanyara’s perimeter, you can hire a boat to find hidden coves and secret beaches; head to Providenciales Golf Club, which is rated among the top 10 courses in the Caribbean; visit the historic plantation ruins at Cheshire Hall, the rock carvings at Sapodilla Hill, and the ‘Hole’, a mysterious sinkhole; or drive 10 minutes down the road to Da Conch Shack, for a lively evening at the island’s iconic open-air beach restaurant and bar, where the conch is harvested right in front of you and served as salad, chowder, fritters, stir-fried, or as ceviche. From frenetic fun in New York to digging your toes in the sand in the Caribbean, this has to be the most extraordinary way to spend a weekend. One where opposites definitely do attract.
Aman New York, USA
+1 646 459 5302
Amanyara, Turks and Caicos
+1 649 941 5770