Vivian's Corner
United States
Adventure & Sports
About Us
Yearly Index
Contact Us
Vivian's Corner
Four Seasons, New York

I. M. Pei's Dramatic Design

In 1993 during the first year in business Four Seasons, New York sold 100 of its mattresses to guests. In the second year none were sold. The hotel had to say "no" to the requests to avoid competition with the supplier. What is it about the mattresses that make them feel like feather beds? And the pillows that make them softer than other down-filled headrests? The mattresses are specially constructed for the hotel and the plump pillows are stuffed with just the right amount of goosedown. From that snug bed you can watch Gotham's hypnotic skyline or a movie of your own choice. But from that comfortable perch you might also quickly be seduced into sleep.

Details, drama and location describe Manhattan's newest caravansary, the only I.M. Pei-designed hotel in the western hemisphere. Situated on elite East 57th Street (with an entrance on 58th Street), the 52-floor building is the tallest hotel in New York and is close to the city's best shopping, galleries and cultural events. Pei said, "Four Seasons continues the grand tradition of a former time when going to a hotel was an occasion."

When we checked in we asked the assistant manager how to get to the health club and he pointed to a door near the desk. "Just come down in your exercise clothes or bathrobes," he suggested. "Everyone does. You'd pad around in your robe at home and we'd like you to feel at home here." The architect had stressed that he wanted to create "interiors designed around personal service and discreet ceremony."

Rooms and suites have 10-foot ceilings, lots of space and big picture windows. Interior designers used furniture in luscious pale woods, fine silks, thick wools, gleaming leather and soft color schemes to fashion a contemporary residential look. Architectural critics have likened the structure to some of the city's great Art Deco monuments, ones that went up in the 20s and 30s and have compared it in spirit to Grand Central Station, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Chrysler Building. But could Pei also have been influenced by Greco-Roman temple architecture? The lobby is 33-feet high and climbing the several commanding sets of stairs feels a bit like ascending the acropolis.

The majestic entrance foyer with the back-lit onyx ceiling and limestone-clad walls would make a great space for a large private event. If we were going to a party there, we would register as hotel guests once again, booking a room near the top of the tower. Then we'd dance our feet off on the marble floor, knowing we'd fall asleep instantly in one of those remarkable beds.

Four Seasons Hotel, 57 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022. Tel. 212-758-5700. Weekend room rates of $295 are sometimes available. www.fourseasons.com/newyorkfs/index.html

Spring 1995