Experience the Big Apple with a bit of Asian flair at Kitano New York.
I took my first trip to Japan in 2004, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was also my first time to Asia. I stayed for almost three weeks, visiting my brother while he was stationed there in the Navy. While I haven’t been back to Japan since then, it’s definitely on my list of places to revisit (and I don’t say that often). Until I get a chance to make it back there, I will have to satisfy my yearning for Japan with a stay at Kitano New York. It’s the first and only Japanese-owned hotel in New York City.
The 18-story hotel—owned and operated by The Kitano Group of Japan, which has under its umbrella 19 worldwide enterprises, including resorts in Australia, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Japan and Vietnam—offers gorgeous views of city landmarks. Located in Manhattan’s historic Murray Hill district, just four blocks south of Grand Central Station on Park Avenue at 38th Street, Kitano New York is just steps away from the posh shops of Fifth Avenue, the Theatre District, Times Square and of course, lots of other must-see sites.
The hotel opened in 1973 and underwent a $55 million reconstruction in the mid ’90s. The interior of the Kitano features a two-story marble and mahogany lobby, with a central Y-shaped staircase—leading up to the mezzanine—as its focal point. In 2007, award-winning designer Jay H. Leff redesigned all 149 guestrooms. Each now surprises with custom-made mahogany and cherry furniture, comfy down pillows and custom-made mattresses. Guests also enjoy Japanese green tea service upon arrival, mini-bars, flat-screen plasma TVs, and plush slippers and robes.
Designed by FMA Architects, the interior of the Kitano features a contemporary interior with silk walls that serve as a backdrop for an impressive collection of museum-quality artwork throughout the public and private areas of the hotel. In addition to the guestrooms, Kitano also boasts 17 suites and a one-of-a-kind, authentic Japanese Tatami Suite.
Luxury suites include separate sleeping and sitting rooms. And in true Japanese style, the suites are equipped with heated Japanese-style commodes with bidets and bedside alarm clocks that will wake you up to the sounds of nature. The townhouse suites offer sweeping views—thanks to large bay windows—and guests will enjoy the selection of books about Manhattan culture.
The Tatami Suite, designed by Chhada, Siembieda & Partners, Ltd. and Junzo Yoshimura Architects, features authentic Japanese decor, including sand-textured walls; living and dining area with traditional tatami mats; delicately painted shoji rice-paper screens and a Japanese Tea Ceremony room. The bathroom features a deep-soaking tub and a modern shower.
An adjacent and historic townhouse, which previously belonged to the Rockefeller Family, was integrated into the hotel during the reconstruction in the mid-’90s. It houses three luxurious one-bedroom suites as well as the hotel’s Jazz at Kitano (a jazz-infused supper club that offers a menu of contemporary American cuisine with a Pan Asian twist). Try the sake steamed mussels and miso-glazed steak, while listening to the jazzy tunes of musicians like Fred Hirsch, George Cables, Aaron Diehl and Jeb Patton.
Also on offer at the hotel is Hakubai, a Michelin-rated restaurant that provides a traditional Kaiseki experience. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term (as I was), it is a multi-course meal served on porcelain, pottery and lacquer dishware—all brought out in carefully timed intervals. The restaurant has invested more than a $500,000 on its collection of Japanese dishes to provide the utmost in elegance. Kaiseki beginners can try the monthly sake-paired dinners, which teach how to enjoy Kaiseki, and aficionados should go for the Kaiseki Omakase menu option.
Overall, you’ll find ultimate comfort and service at this AAA Four-Diamond hotel, with a mix of traditional East and West services and amenities—all topped off with New York style. If all of this isn’t enough, Kitano also offers complimentary amenities, such as limousine service to Wall Street; Japanese tea; and guest passes to the New York Sports Club. Does it get any better? For reservations, call 800.548.2666.