You are currently viewing Magnificent in Midtown: The Peninsula New York

Magnificent in Midtown: The Peninsula New York

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Travel

[circuit type=review circuit_id=”9160″]

Editor’s note: The Peninsula New York provided a complimentary stay so that TPG could get an inside look at the hotel and its amenities. The opinions expressed below are entirely those of the author and weren’t subject to review by Peninsula Hotels or any external entity.

Although the first Peninsula Hotel opened in Hong Kong back in 1928 and remains an Asian landmark to this day, the brand is still one of the world’s smaller ultra-luxury hotel chains, with just a handful of hotels sprinkled around the globe. 

In fact, there are only three Peninsula hotels in the U.S. — in Beverly Hills, Chicago and New York City. While I’ve stayed at the brand’s outposts in Beverly Hills and Chicago as well as a few in Europe and Asia, a recent trip to New York was my first opportunity to visit the New York branch of this storied hotel company. 

Here’s what it’s like staying at the Peninsula New York and how to make the most of your time there.


What is the Peninsula New York?

The Peninsula New York is the U.S. flagship of the venerable (and historic) Asian hotel chain, whose outposts in Hong Kong and Shanghai you might have seen, not to mention those in Paris and a newly opened location in London. 

The hotel, which has just 235 rooms and suites, is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, though it occupies a 23-story registered landmark building that dates to the turn of the 20th century. 

Where is the Peninsula New York?

The Peninsula New York is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 55th Street, which makes it an excellent choice whether you’re in town for business or sightseeing. It is within easy walking distance or a quick taxi ride away from the major offices of Midtown, and just a few blocks from several subway stations, including those on the E, F, N, R and W lines. 

The Museum of Modern Art is just around the block and Carnegie Hall is a few minutes’ walk away, as is Central Park. If you’re in town to see a play or musical, you can walk to most major Broadway theaters within about 15-20 minutes. 


How to book the Peninsula New York

Peninsula Hotels does not have its own loyalty program, but its individual properties participate in affiliate networks like American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts, Skylark and Virtuoso, if you tend to book through a travel adviser, and the rates are typically the same as those available to the general public.

Over the next several months, rates at the Peninsula New York start at $695 per night, while the junior suite that I stayed in starts at $1,645 per night.

Try to book a rate that includes breakfast

It’s certainly worth booking a stay at the Peninsula New York through an affiliate network for the chance of value-added extras like an upgrade based on availability, late checkout, on-property credits and welcome amenities like plates of fresh fruit or even a bottle of wine. 

One of the most useful benefits of booking through an affiliate program like that is free daily breakfast for two. At the Peninsula, that can mean savings of well over $100 per day.

My reservation included daily breakfast, so the first morning, I ordered smoked Catskill salmon with a toasted bagel and cream cheese as well as fixings like red onion, tomato, caper and lemon ($36) plus a pot of coffee ($12), which, if ordered à la carte, would come to around $65 including a room service charge and a tip. 


Another morning of my stay, I headed down to Clement, one level up from the ground floor, for a more formal experience. Since the dining room was sparsely populated, I chose a corner table to admire the space’s 60-foot handpainted, okra-hued wall etched with jungle scenes, as well as to see other folks coming in and out. The table service was beautiful, with white tablecloths, silver vases containing cut flowers and a selection of French honeys and jams. Service was impeccable and friendly, with waiters stopping by at regular intervals to take my order and then make sure I had everything I needed.

I tucked into a flavorful bowl of huevos rancheros with roasted tomato sauce, corn tortillas, refried beans, avocado and sour cream ($39) plus two cappuccinos ($12 each). Aside from a tip, it was complimentary thanks to my booking, saving me well over $70.

Clement’s small bar seemed to be hopping during the after-work hours, with colleagues chatting over the day’s events by the bar or window-side tables, though they seemed to disperse before 8 p.m. since the restaurant is not open for dinner. I did not stop by for cocktails, but they include signatures like the Fifth Sling with Bombay Sapphire gin, pomegranate juice, fresh lemon and rosemary leaf ($27) and the Still Fall with Bulleit bourbon, local maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon ($27).

Across the lobby, the hotel’s Gotham Bar, which is typically open from 3-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday was closed during my stay.

The public spaces are grand and filled with art

Although it has only been a Peninsula since 1988, the neo-Italian Renaissance building (see if you can spy the statues of Roman goddesses on the facade) that houses the hotel was actually constructed as one of the city’s first skyscraper hotels (The Gotham) from 1902-1905.

Entering the building, your eye is immediately drawn up the dual-sided staircase and table holding elaborate floral arrangements, past the enormous chandelier practically dripping with crystals to the ornately molded ceiling. Contemporary paintings are on display there and throughout the reception and elevator lobbies, and the hotel regularly hosts artists for limited-time engagements through its “Art in Resonance” series.

The rooms are large and luxurious

In a city as crowded as New York, space is at a premium, so it’s worth noting that even standard Superior-category rooms start at 370 square feet. My junior suite was 575 square feet, with an entry foyer that contained a bench for luggage along with drawers, a closet for hanging clothes and the minibar. The bathroom entrance was off to the other side.

The minibar held some complimentary bottles of water and snacks like chips, mixed nuts and Serafina gummy candies, as well as a minifridge stocked with On the Rocks bottled cocktails and even a demi-bouteille of Peninsula’s own Champagne cuvee by Deutz.

The living room contained a small sofa with a coffee table along the wall closest to the front door. Several framed paintings and sketches graced the wall. 

There was a large wooden desk by the windows, whose drawers contained handy office supplies as well as a fax machine (just in case you still use those). 

The single large window next to the desk let in plenty of light and overlooked busy Fifth Avenue. Even with all the foot and car traffic, though, the double-glazed windows kept noise to a minimum, and the heavy draperies blocked out all light as needed.


Across the room, the king-size bed had a dark wooden frame and was dressed in spotless white linens with silver and gold piping and there was a divan at the foot of it, providing another space to sit. There was also an armchair wedged into the corner away from the windows.

The nightstands to either side of the bed were lit by sconce fixtures and held Peninsula’s signature room controls, which are panels with buttons for the lighting, air conditioning, the television, do not disturb and housekeeping signs, and an alarm clock. There was also a power bank with U.S.-shaped plugs and multiple USB-A ports, which made it handy to keep multiple devices charged. 

On the wall to the left of the bed was a large chest with audio-visual plugs for the television and a DVD player. A 40-inch LED flat-screen television was mounted on the wall above it. The hotel also offers guests fast, free Wi-Fi.

The bathroom was enormous and tiled in creamy marble and black stone. It had just a single sink with a large mirror and a smaller wall-mounted makeup mirror.

The tub took up the entire far wall and had a TV embedded in the wall above it, which you could control with a panel of buttons, along with a basic phone function.

There was a separate W.C. with the toilet and a walk-in shower with a small ledge and both overhead and handheld showerheads.


The hotel stocks bespoke bath products created by “local fragrance curator” Mackenzie Reilly with top notes of quince, peony and musk. 

Overall, the suite felt spacious and finely but not ostentatiously appointed thanks to its muted palette of taupe and beige with silver and dark wood accents. While all the furnishings were in good shape — not a scuff or scrape in sight — the look does appear a bit outdated. The hotel hinted that it might soon be undergoing some renovations, so the decor might be refreshed with a more colorful or up-to-date look in the near future, though no timeline has been confirmed with us.

The gym has great views and is well equipped

Located one level up from the spa, the 22nd–floor gym was positively expansive with lots of natural light thanks to the many windows looking west and north. It contained plenty of LifeFitness cardio and weight machines, a mirror fitness system, Peloton bikes, free weights and a space for stretching. There are also complimentary daily group classes and the hotel can arrange for private personal training sessions. 

Across the hall from the gym, Vu Hair offers salon services.


The pool is popular with families

Across from the fitness center, the indoor pool had plenty of seating areas including loungers and tables with chairs, plus wraparound windows for natural light. The dark tile floors and wooden columns are looking a little dated, but that didn’t stop families (and especially those with young kids) from splashing around and enjoying themselves. No one appeared to be doing laps while I was there, but this would have been good for a quick aquatic workout, too.

The spa is pricey but uses excellent product lines

The hotel’s spa is up on the 21st floor and has 10 treatment rooms. It proffers an extensive and varied menu of experiences including a Medical Beauty Research age-defying customized facial ($375) and a deep tissue massage incorporating Antara Organics Collection CBD oil ($265). 

The hotel also uses high-end labels like Biologique Recherche products in some of its facial treatments and Ayurveda-based Subtle Energies creams and oils from Australia.

Get to the rooftop bar early

One of the hotel’s most distinctive venues is the rooftop Salon De Ning, an Asian-inflected space inspired by a 1930s Shanghai socialite and her art collection. Guests enter through a separate door on West 55th Street and take an elevator directly up to the 23rd floor. From there, it’s a short walk down a mirrored hallway accented with carved wooden screens.


The space comprises an indoor bar with high stools as well as vignettes of low-slung couches and armchairs. There is a narrow, standing-only balcony looking north toward Central Park. But the main attraction is the large, umbrella-shaded outdoor terrace with both restaurant-style and sectional seating. The views of the surrounding skyline are stunning, so no wonder it was popular even several hours before sunset.

Although the front desk staff said I would have no trouble securing a table (only parties of 10 or more can make a reservation), by the time we arrived at 6 p.m., about an hour after opening, there were no tables left outside and only a few bar stools available.

That said, the bar staff were extremely quick to get us menus and take our orders, and it was about three minutes after sidling up to the bar before we were sipping on specialties like the Manhattan Sunset with Maker’s Mark, Earl Grey syrup, St. George Spiced Pear liqueur and creme de cassis ($29). The bar also serves small bites like a watermelon feta salad with heirloom tomatoes and cucumber ($28) and a simple snack trio including Parmesan, olives and mixed nuts ($23). Those who indulge can also peruse the in-house cigar menu.

Service is spot on

Of course, the clientele at a high-end hotel like this would expect some of the best service in the city, but the Peninsula New York still stands out thanks to the diligent and yet understated care its staff takes of patrons. 

For example, when I pulled up in an Uber, a doorman immediately took my bag while asking my name, handed it off to a colleague and escorted me up the stairs to reception where he introduced me by name to the reception agent. By the time I got to my room a few minutes later, my bag was already there.


As I checked in, I also asked about dinner suggestions in the neighborhood, and within 10 minutes of settling into my room, the concierge called me with a list of recommendations. At another point, I needed some ice, and within five minutes of calling reception, an attendant was outside my door with a bucketful. Each morning when I left, a housekeeper popped out of a room along the hallway to ask if they could service my room, and on the other hand, they waited until they had confirmed I had left for the evening to perform turndown service. 

In short, everyone had their service flow down to a science … and one they performed with a smile. 



The Peninsula New York has several accessible accommodation types including:

  • Grand Luxe Double
  • Deluxe King
  • Superior King
  • Superior Suite

The accessible rooms and suites include wheelchair-accessible routes within the room, multilevel door viewers, accessible bathrooms with tub grab bars or roll-in showers, lower counter heights and raised toilet seats. Guests can also request amenities such as communication kits with door knockers, under-pillow vibrating alarms, strobe light communication devices, TTY kits, visual alarms and portable smoke connectors.

Although the hotel’s main entrance on West 55th Street has stairs, and then another set that leads to reception, wheelchair users can enter through the nearby door to Salon De Ning and take an elevator up to reception from there.

For use of the pool or gym, wheelchair users can take the guest elevators to the spa on the 21st floor and then a separate elevator up one level from there. The pool has a chair lift to help guests enter or exit.

Reasons the Peninsula New York might not be for you

The Peninsula New York is an excellent place to spend a stay in New York, but even so, it might not be for everyone.

  • The room rates can get very high, even for the luxury hotel scene in New York.
  • The decor in the accommodations and some of the public areas like the spa and pool feels dated, so hopefully a potential upcoming refresh will give them a new look.
  • The hotel’s dining scene is limited, which might not be an issue for most since this is New York, but if you are hoping for a hopping restaurant or trendy bar, this isn’t the hotel for you.
  • Prices are also high for the food and drinks — considering breakfast can cost north of $80 per person — so make sure you can book a rate where some meals or expenses are included. 
  • Although the location is very central if your business or leisure plans have you mostly in another part of the city, the Midtown location might not be ideal due to traffic congestion.

Alternatives to the Peninsula New York

While the Peninsula New York is one of the city’s most popular luxury hotels, there are also quite a few nearby options where your hotel points can come in handy to help you save.

Just across Fifth Avenue from the hotel, you might spot the St. Regis New York, that brand’s historic flagship. Rates start at $745 or 84,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. While that’s a lot, the white-gloved service, ornate room decor and irreplicable ambience in the King Cole Bar make it feel worthwhile.


One of Hyatt’s hottest hotels, the Park Hyatt New York, is a couple of blocks closer to Central Park and has one of the best hotel pools in the city. The aesthetic is more contemporary and pared down, but still luxurious. No wonder room rates start at around $700 or range between 35,000-45,000 points per night.


Those with Hilton points can check out the Conrad New York Midtown on West 54th Street. Room rates start at $646, but some of the suites start at just about $700, so a small upcharge can get you a lot more room to spread out. Award nights start at 95,000 points per night.


Finally, just up Sixth Avenue from the Peninsula, you can check into the sustainability-focused 1 Hotel Central Park, where rooms are kitted out in a rustic-chic style (think unvarnished wood paneling and dark glazed tiles) and the minibars are stocked with all kinds of local treats. Rates start at $429 per night, and the hotel is also bookable through Capital One Travel’s Premier Collection, which means eligible cardholders can count on perks like a $100 on-property experience credit to put toward charges like meals, availability-based upgrades and free daily breakfast for two.

Checking out

The Peninsula New York undoubtedly remains one of the city’s most refined luxury hotels, with the accommodations and service to match. A possible upcoming renovation means its public areas and rooms should get a fresh look. Hopefully, that will also mean some exciting new dining and drinking venues, though its current restaurants and bars remain popular with the Midtown after-work crowd. But whether your visit to New York is about work or enjoyment, the hotel’s central location and easy access to public transport as well as various museums and theaters make it a great base from which to explore the city.

Related reading: