because this luxurious celebrity favorite is a must-stay in NYC

Only in New York could a five-star hotel be both a celebrity magnet and a neighborhood hangout.

The Mark in Manhattan has been a favorite among the city’s well-to-do since it opened its doors 95 years ago.

With a distinctive address on the corner of 77th Street and Madison Avenue, and steps away from Central Park, the property was redesigned for the 21st century in 2009.

Unparalleled levels of privacy ensure the contemporary hotel is a firm celebrity favorite and every May it transforms into the Met Gala’s ‘other red carpet’ as models, stars and fashion who’s who gather, try on and mingle at The Mark before and after the show .

But this modern abode isn’t just about celebrity residents.

It’s also the perfect spot for Upper East Siders, many of whom come with their pets, as well as New York visitors who want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Manhattan.

The National checked in expecting a sophisticated stay.

The welcome

A sleek black Mercedes picks us up at JFK Airport, which is about 30km from the hotel, and the journey makes good for the snail-like traffic in New York before our driver drops us right outside the Renaissance Revival-style building that is the Mark.

Entering the lobby, we get our first look at the interiors by renowned French designer Jacques Grange, who has also designed homes for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and the Princess of Monaco.

Blacker and pure white marble-striped floors lead to the reception desk, which is tucked away on the left-hand side.

Check-in is not tedious and the staff is easy to chat with guests. The concierge welcomes us as we head to the elevator, introducing himself and letting us know that the team is here to help with any request, big or small.

On the fourth floor, our luggage is already waiting in our room along with a beautiful welcome scene containing fresh roses, refreshments and cookies in the shape of a yellow New York taxi.

The neighborhood

Discreetly tucked away on 77th Street between boutique Madison and Fifth Avenues on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the hotel avoids the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan, but is completely walkable if you fancy a night on the town.

Just one block from Central Park, it’s also within walking distance of the New York City Mile Museum.

Security measures

Nothing of note, according to the city’s measures for Covid-19 during our stay.

The room

There are 106 rooms, 46 suites and a 1,000 square meter penthouse where Serena Williams hosted Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’s baby shower.

We stay in a 77 king-size room, so named because its windows frame the view of East 77th Street. With an entrance foyer, a king-size bedroom and a spacious bathroom, the room covers 46 elegant square meters.

Experience a high level of discreet luxury, expect polished marble floors in the bathroom, large-scale modern art on the walls and a single gadget to control lights, temperature, curtains and more.

The space manages to maintain a home-away-from-home feel, thanks to thick plush carpets, a soothing color palette of rich creams, whites and browns and [we soon discover] a king-size bed like a cloud.

Playful details such as cheeky illustrations on La Botega toiletries and coasters, and an American dream candy mini bar, show that The Mark doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The scene

The hotel’s personalized service and privacy attract celebrities at the same time as its Upper East Side location attracts the laid-back locals.

Fashionable vacationers also flock here, perhaps attracted by the hotel’s partnership with the upscale Bergdorf Goodman, which allows guests to shop in the chic 24-hour store or in its in-house salon, from celebrity stylist to the stars Frederic Fekkai.

But in true New York City style, anything goes at The Mark, and we don’t feel out of place even as we pass through the hotel in athletic gear on our way to climb one of Manhattan’s tallest skyscrapers.

Children are more than welcome and there are specially designed Maclaren prams available for the youngest guests, as well as slumber party arrangements for families staying in a suite.

The Mark is as welcoming to kids and pets as it is to A-list celebrities.  Photo: The Mark Hotel

Dogs aren’t forgotten either, and each furry guest gets an in-room dog bed and bowl, as well as an amenity kit filled with litter bags and a leash and collar.

The Mark Bar, with its printed stools and glittering ceiling, comes alive nightly for after-work, pre-dinner and post-theatre drinks.

There is a large gym on the second floor and guests can make reservations with one of New York’s top personal trainers, Dan Flores.

Designer bikes are lined up outside the hotel and can be rented for free. If you want to take them to Central Park, let the staff know and they can pack a picnic designed by Jean-George Vongerichte for you to take along.

There are also orange and black bikes for rent, an eco-friendly way to get around Manhattan.

The food

Breakfast at The Mark restaurant.  Photo: The Mark Hotel

Headed by one of the world’s most renowned chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, The Mark Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Our dining experience revolves around breakfast, which is enjoyed first in the main restaurant discreetly located at the back of the hotel and then on the sidewalk under monochrome umbrellas.

The menu includes classic and modern favorites such as buttermilk pancakes, avocado toast, pastries, cereals, eggs and granola.

The Mark Breakfast ($46) is a large platter of organic eggs, seasonal greens, Applewood smoked ham and a bagel, served with freshly squeezed juice and specialty coffee, all impeccably executed by executive chef Pierre Schutz.

The Russ and Daughters Norwegian Smoked Salmon Platter ($36) served with a toasted bagel, cream cheese and red onion is also highly recommended.

The service

The highlight of every stay at The Mark is the service. It’s personalised, welcoming and utterly down to earth with staff who are consistently polite but completely undaunted by the hotel’s celebrity clientele.

Little touches — like finding a Laduree macaron on your pillow, complimentary John Lobb shoe shine and fresh flowers delivered to your room daily — elevate the stay.

And playful elements, such as the TV tuned to a Jazz channel when you return from a night on the town, are in keeping with the hotel’s lively personality.

The concierge staff are a wealth of knowledge. Visit them for recommendations and suggestions you won’t find in a guidebook.

High and low

Without the pomp and ceremony often associated with five-star luxury hotels, The Mark offers contemporary luxury in a prime location, and there’s something utterly refreshing about staying at a hotel that’s as popular with locals as it is with expats.

Everything seems well thought out and nothing is too much trouble.

The only downside is that there is no pool or sauna in the hotel.

The secret tip

Try a $6 haute dog at The Mark's street side food cart.  Photo: The Mark Hotel

Get New York street food in style at Jean-Georges’s haute dog stand.

Right outside the hotel, the black-and-white-striped cart is decked out in an orange log and serves organic chicken and grass-fed hot dogs flavored with kimchi and classic seasonings for $6 each

It’s the most affordable Michelin-awarded meal you’ll find in town.

The verdict

Every once in a while, you come across a hotel that hits all the right notes. The Mark on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is one such place.

Combining refined elegance and a love of fun, it’s easy to see why it maintains an almost cult status in one of the world’s busiest luxury hotel markets, and it’s totally refreshing to realize that its celebrity-magnet status hasn’t been lost on his head.

The bottom line

Stays start at $1,075 a night, excluding taxes. Check-in is from 15:00 and checkout is at noon. www.themarkhotel.com

This review was conducted at the hotel’s invitation during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects the standards of the hotel over time. Services may change in the future

Updated: September 23, 2022, 6:02 pm

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