Sleeping Around NYC: The Marmara Park Avenue
By Shari Hartford
From the moment you enter the glossy white lobby with its twin fireplaces and fascinating art you know that this repurposed 1927 office building has become something very special…glamorous and sexy, yet functional and inviting. (I was directed to take a look at the rest rooms off the lobby…each a different gorgeous vibrant color. An odd amenity but worth the detour.)
Although I had just a small overnight bag, I was escorted to my room in a manner befitting this luxury hotel. Not just a finger point toward the elevator but a live person to explain the workings of my spacious deluxe accommodation–mine with a terrace. Although each room is equipped with an IPad Air with the Intelity app for guest usage, there is, alas, no electrical outlet next to the bed and no storage at all in the bathroom. In fact, barely enough room to put a toothbrush. That made for some careful juggling of “toiletry stuff.” But the sweeping views of the skyline at dusk more than compensated.
The rooms are elegant, the lobby welcoming, but it’s the wellness center that is the pride and joy of Marmara Park Avenue. While most hotels have a perfunctory fitness center, they pale in comparison. Here there is a swimming pool, a spa menu for massages and facials and the highlight…a hammam.
It is in the hammam (a Turkish bath that is a variant of a Russian banya) where I spent one of my finest hours. I had arranged to receive the hammam treatment, one of the choices from the wellness center offerings. After proceeding to the spotless ladies locker room where I received a fluffy robe, slippers and several large embroidered cloths, I was instructed to spend at least 15 minutes relaxing in the hammam before the start of the treatment. This hammam is a beehive shaped heated marble room with a center marble platform and marble seating around the perimeter. There were also several water features along the sides. After using the large cloths to cover my “personal areas” I relaxed on the platform and quickly started to doze. The room is heated from beneath and unlike a sauna or steam room, it is just a comfortable body temperature – my glasses didn’t even fog up and a person could conceivably read a book while relaxing. Since this is a wet room, if you are so inclined, you could take a copper bowl of warm water and splash it over yourself. Soon my therapist, Savas Cebeci, entered to begin the traditional treatment of exfoliation, massage and general detox. This Turkish god of a man (are there Turkish gods?) got right down to business by scrubbing all my exposed skin with a goat hair mitt. While he was scrubbing he was simultaneously dousing me with warm water using the aforementioned copper bowls. It became a much choreographed dance with water, scrubbing and later on, lovely smelling foam that drifted down from a balloon-type “thing” he flung in the air to inflate. Weird? Most certainly. Heavenly? Most certainly.
When Savas was finished with his scrubbing and water ballet I was invited to further douse myself with water to wash away any lingering foam. The hammam treatment is only available for hotel guests and I can see why. It’s all you can do to make it to your room and collapse for a catatonic nap. Every muscle is relaxed and you feel like a noodle. And, that’s not a bad thing!
The Marmara Park Avenue is an oasis of a hotel in the heart of midtown. Go for the hammam. Please go for the hammam!
For more information, see marmaranyc.com.