Michelangelo Hotel - New York City
The Michelangleo Hotel for the longest time was what I considered to be one of the best kept secrets in the city. The name sums up the theme. Artful, Italian, and cultured. The lobby will greet you with a feeling of bold richness (some might find it gaudy if you are not accustomed to red velvet…everywhere). The staff, as I discovered on many visits, but especially during the blackout of August 2004, is capable of maintaining a professional decorum even during the most trying of circumstances: Heat, darkness, mayhem, and a lobby packed full of guests waiting to be escorted one-by-one up several flights of stairs in the dark to their rooms with no access to elevators or electronic room keys.
Fast-forward 5 years to my most recent visit to the Michelangelo which was, of course, pleasant as usual. There are automatic unrequested upgrades handed out if occupancy is lower than normal. My last stay included one of these fortuitous upgrades, and the suite I was given was absolutely stunning.
The Michelangelo is centrally located at 51st Street and 7th Avenue. For those of you business travelers who also consider themselves fashionistas, planning business trips around Fashion Week, this location allows for a short walk to Bryant Park. Cabs are plentiful for longer commutes and in bad weather. Otherwise, the subway is just a short walk.
Rooms at the Michelangleo are priced based on the season and occupancy. During certain times of the year, you may get a standard room in the mid-$200 range. Larger rooms during busier times will run you upwards of $300 - $700 per night. I have stayed in almost every type of room, and from the smallest (about 250 sq. feet) to one of the largest suites (three rooms, two bathrooms), the amenities are plentiful. Bathrooms have deep soaking tubs, marble countertops, and small televisions for monitoring the news in the morning. The beds rival the “Heavenly Beds” at the Westin. There are also corporate apartments available. Layouts and photos are available online.
A word of advice to those traveling from the west. If you arrive on a red-eye and arrange your check-in time for the wee hours of the morning after you land in order to get a few hours of sleep, be sure to request a room away from the elevator. In classic-big-city-upscale-hotel fashion, the elevators “ding” every time the lift arrives at the floor. Having a room across from it will keep you awake.
If you need recommendations for food, travel, entertainment or any other service, visit the concierge next to the front desk. Any recommendation from him will prove to be good advice. I have not been let down in seven years of being a regular guest at the Michelangelo.
For me, the Michelangelo has been the scene of some of the most memorable and successful business trips I have taken. The atmosphere of this hotel helped set the tone for some of these days based on the simple concept of comfort and professionalism.
Also, I cannot write this article without mentioning one of the most memorable characters in my hotel-staying history, Vittorio Nasti. He was the evening bartender at the Michelangelo’s lobby bar for many years, and one who would always greet the guests, especially the ladies, with a smile. He served the best port in the late hours, and during the blackout of 2004, he somehow managed to keep a bar full of weary guests as happy as humanly possible, even when the ice, the beer, bottled water, most wines and many liquors started to run dry, and the toilets on electrical pumps began to back up.
Vittorio died of cancer in 2008, but his spirit lives on in such a warm way, even after the bar’s renovation…which is quite fitting, as it was never the same without him. My mind sees him out of the corner of my eye each time I check in. My head turns to greet him, yet someone else always stands in his place, to which I do my best to smile back, and hope my disappointment is neither visible, nor offensive.
Please visit the bar and raise a glass to Vittorio the friendly Italian ghost during your stay, and take very good care of the current bartenders. They have big shoes to fill.
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