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The Stanhope Hotel, New York


During the great blizzard of 1996, no guests checked in or out of the Stanhope. Located on posh Fifth Avenue just across from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the snow-embalmed ground was a wondrous sight for those staying at the hotel. Executive Chef Scott Cohen decided to rescue the visitors from the winter blues by serving up spicy, tropical feasts during the worst storm in a century. Touches like these make the hotel legendary.

Since 1926 the four-star hotel has with exceptional luxury, taste and service been specializing in creating unique experiences like themed weekends. Select the "Romantic Weekend" and you will be bedded in a Fifth or Madison Avenue suite outfitted with roses and champagne. The ambiance for a "Be My Valentine" package is equally amorous. A Christmas package includes a limousine and driver to take you shopping to the finest boutiques, galleries and department stores in a city that sells just about everything.

The spacious suites face th e park and include entertainment centers (videos and CDs can be borrowed from the front desk); some have kitchenettes. All 140 accommodations (70 rooms and 70 suites) are furnished with reproductions of European antiques, such as seasoned oak desks, and a ccented with Chinese objets d'art, old books and beautiful prints. The marble bathrooms are stocked with toiletries from Saks Fifth Avenue. The penthouse was undergoing a renovation when we inspected the hotel, but it promises to be the ultimate in sumptuousness.

The Stanhope, New York

Even hotels that are decades old, open fitness centers for today's travelers. The one at the Stanhope is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and has a sauna. Personal training and massage can be arranged through the concierge. Joggers can avail themselves of six miles of park paths (get a map from the hotel), which are very accessible from the Stanhope's doorstep.

Recently we were asked by the manager of a European property about the upswing in fine dining rooms in American hotels and we cited the Stanhope's restaurants as an example. Weather permitting, it offers lunch and stays open until 9 p.m. Gerard's is the clubby-looking bar serving a light menu. But the real haute dining experience is dinner (breakfast and lunch are available, too) in the newly beefed-up Cafe M, which serves Mediterranean.

A complimentary Business Center provides conference room facilities, typewriters, fax, photocopying machines, computer stations and secretarial assistance by arrangement. Another special service for the traveler is the use of a limousine free of charge weekdays, which shuttles guests to meetings in the early mornings and to Broadway in the evenings.

The Stanhope 995 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028. Tel. 212-288-5800 or 800-828-1123. Rates start at $275. Take note that the hotel al so offers a special winter rate (Jan. 2 to Mar. 21) of $230, which is a thaw on any traveler's purse. www.stanhopepark.hyatt.com/property/index.jhtml

–Emily Fancher

Spring 1996