I find myself in a massive living room overlooking Central Park, nineteen floors towering above the iconic New York City skyline. I continue speaking to the bell hop, Anders, exclaiming something fairly generic like, “Oh, wow, look at that view!” Meanwhile, inside I’m doing my best to contain the emotion that is finding itself in the tear ducts of my eyes (aka I’m teary-eyed, fine).
Luckily, TJ is in the bedroom by now, also exclaiming his shock of how endless and stunning the room is, which is keeping Anders entertained while I recompose myself.
I’ve felt this way a few times in my thirty-four years: every time I’m in Scotland, basically anywhere within the country. Walking into the Chartres Cathedral in Tours, France. Sitting on a deserted private beach in Kauai. Overlooking the front gates at the Greystoke Castle in England.
And now: staring out the window of our absolutely gorgeous suite in The Ritz-Carlton overlooking Central Park in New York City. It’s a Grand Park View Suite. Two rooms: a bedroom and a living room, both with TVs that are set to music upon our arrival. Two full bathrooms each with its own shower and tub. There’s an adjoining walk-in closet in the hallway connecting the two rooms. And if that’s not enough storage for you, there are more closets in the bedroom.
Were we expecting this room? No. But what we come to discover very quickly about The Ritz-Carlton is that their whole mission, seemingly of every staff member you’ll meet, is to exceed your expectations.
So, let’s back track a bit. Neither myself or TJ have ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton before. While I’ve always been curious about what makes this hotel brand so iconic, TJ really only knew about “The Ritz” from the Young Frankenstein movie (“Puttin’ on the Ritz“) and the knowledge there was one in London. When he told his best friend, “Yeah, we’re going to stay at The Ritz-Carlton. Have you heard of it?” His friend laughed – and then, “Oh, you’re serious. Yeah, TJ, of course I’ve heard of The Ritz-Carlton, haven’t you?”
We both didn’t know what to expect, for opposite reasons. Maybe I was a bit intimidated by the iconic name, while TJ was just discovering how iconic that name was.
The Ritz will be our last night in NYC. We’ve been here for three nights already in other properties. We roll up in our taxi and are immediately greeted by the jovial doorman, who takes our luggage, gives us a tag, and tells us know where we should head to next.
We’re there early, about 11:30a, to drop off our bags. We arrive at the check-in desk and when I give the gentlemen my name, he beams, “We’ve been expecting you, Ms. Sandifer. Your room is ready.” He hands me an envelope with my name typed on it. And then, we’re immediately greeted by Chelsea, who’s taken over for James in helping coordinate my photography while I’m there. She asks us if we want champagne or water. I gladly accept the water, and TJ is giddy when he says, “Champagne? Well yeah, I can’t say no to champagne!”
Chelsea hands us over to Anders, our bell hop for the day. It’s then that he whisks us up to our suite, shows us around our room, and then escorts us down to Contour for our lunch reservations.
Not even an hour into arriving, and our greetings feel more like those at a well-loved bed and breakfast than a huge hotel brand, so we’re already over the moon with how welcoming and non-intimidating it is.
Contour is the restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park that has several areas of seating, depending on your mood, as well as a bar. You can eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner here. I rarely opt for a salad because I typically have fear of missing out (FOMO as the kids these days call it) if I’m just eating lettuce. But, gotta say: I took a risk and ordered salad and it was dynamite. TJ’s grilled cheese was also worth getting gluted over to sample (if you’re new to this blog, I’m gluten intolerant).
After lunch, our bags are delivered to our room by yet another lovely bell hop. We relax in the room for a bit and I take a million photos because that’s me living my best life. We get a knock on the door. It’s a gentleman dropping off a bottle of whisky: exclusively bottled for Ritz-Carlton.
Part of our reservation includes Club Lounge access. Guys, this is worth every penny, if for the food and drinks alone. New York City can be insanely expensive to pay for meals three times a day (unless you dine on 99 cent pizza, which I also highly recommend doing). Club Lounge has a revolving spread of amazing food for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacks, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and desserts. This was hugely convenient to pop down to the second floor for quick bites or longer hangouts. You are also welcome to bring most of the food back to your room if you prefer (but be a pal and bring your dishes back down). Best of all was our concierge at the Club: Lazar. I’m actually sad we can’t see him on a regular basis. He is a true New Yorker with wonderful wit. He took us under his wing. Thank you, Lazar.
We’ve booked tickets for the Top of the Rock observation deck. Tickets are $20 cheaper if you arrive a little earlier than peak sunset hours, and it’s nice to take your time to the top and then wait for the sun to set. The views are second to none (I’m assuming), especially from the top deck that is completely open-air. We watch the selfies and the shivers of those who didn’t dress for the wind on the 70th floor.
After that, we head back to The Ritz. I’d eaten at Tavern on the Green in Central Park on my first trip to NYC the year before. I wanted to take TJ there, so he calls down to the concierge to take them up on their offer to make reservations there for us. We opt for walking, it’s a 13 minute leisurely walk through Central Park.
When we arrive, we’re seated in the middle of the patio outdoors under the canopy of lights. Our waitress brings us Prosecco, compliments of our concierge.
Our walk back to the hotel through Central Park is delightfully uneventful (this is a positive thing for those of you who might have a pre-conceived idea about Central Park via too many movies from back in the day, like TJ did).
We arrive back in our room and low and behold: A tray of macaroons is waiting for us. Concierge is killin’ it – completely spoiling us. TJ and I have never been impressed by macaroons. I’ve always wondered what the fuss was about. One bite into one of these Ritz-Carlton macaroons and our eyes light up and our tastebuds go, “Ohhhhhhhh!!! We get it now!”
After getting some champagne and coffee from the Club Lounge (some might say that’s a strange combo, but it actually is pretty perfect), we spend the rest of the evening in the room, bundled up in our robes, and sitting in the windows looking out at the city. This is after, mind you, we both take baths. Separately. My bathroom on one end of the suite, TJ’s bathroom on the other end. We Facetime each other while drinking champagne enjoying our bubble baths, because it just seems too ridiculous not to. We don’t even have two bathrooms at home.
I wake up early to catch the sunrise. There’s not much of one on that cloudy morning, but I’m going to enjoy every second I possibly can in this beautiful room. TJ snoozes away, the best connoisseur of sleep there ever was.
I head down to the spa to check it out. The entire spa team is, of course, incredibly friendly and accommodating. Fun fact: you can get a couples massage in your room if you prefer.
There’s a gym, too:
After the spa, we head to the Club Lounge again to grab breakfast. I feel like enjoying our breakfast with our room views, so we bring it back up with us. We have a newspaper hanging from our door handle, too.
We’ve got a little more time to enjoy NYC before our late check-out for the airport. We head to Central Park again, just a few steps from the lobby. Families are fishing, kids are playing, couples are kissing, it’s a dream. There’s a book in our room called “Central Park, An American Masterpiece.” And I believe it.
We decide to spend our lunch time back in the Club Lounge and say our goodbyes to Lazar. I’m already sad our stay is nearing the end.
It feels incredibly cliche and cheesy to write, but it was an experience of a lifetime. And that’s how we feel as we do our last looks of our beautiful suite and close the door. It’s always strange to me when I know I’ll probably never have a certain experience ever again.
The Ritz-Carlton Central Park felt like exactly that. How would we ever top this at another hotel?
Do they treat everyone this good? Based off the research I’ve done: yes. Their motto: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” If you’re interested, I found this article really interesting, called “Outrageous Acts of Kindness: How the Ritz-Carlton Turns Good Values into Good Business.”
Thank you to the entire staff at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park that we had the pleasure of meeting. Thank you also to James Baldwell for your trust and opportunity and Chelsea Drake for your on-site assistance.
I really wish I’d taken portraits of all the staff that assisted us during our stay. Ah, next time, I hope.