Sleeping Around NYC: The Kimberly
By Shari Hartford
Sometimes you encounter a perfect fit…it can be a store you visit time and time again, the perfect pair of shoes and then, sometimes, it’s a great hotel. Not one on a spectacular list, not one on the lips of the hip, but one that just gets it right for you. This is the Kimberly.
I’ve slept around for years now and can safely say I can judge a “good one” from a mediocre one. I have standards, I ask questions but I am decidedly not a demanding diva who checks the temperature of the bath water. So, it was a great surprise to step into the Kimberly on a rainy and humid summer evening when it seemed like the entire city was cranky and overwrought. The smartly attired doorman held the door and said, “Welcome home.”
Okay…hokey, but heartfelt.
The Kimberly, opened in 1985, has been under my radar until now. I happened upon it while walking crosstown on East 50th Street. The European-style ambiance sets it apart from the usual frentic and impossibly hip establishments that seem to be popping up on every city block. There is certainly room in this big city for enthusiastic hotels that have lobby games and encourage their guests to mingle and engage. I’ve stayed at a few and they are fun and exciting. But here at the Kimberly, there’s a calming elegance in the lobby, with its marble floors and traditional furnishings and spectacular cylindrical floor-to-ceiling fish tank.
I must admit that I usually look long and hard for something to criticize, something or someone to find fault with. Sorry to disappoint, but couldn’t find it here. The lobby porter who pushed my elevator button was charming and smiling, the housekeeper who asked if I wanted turn-down service and gave me the chocolates anyway when I said no was gracious and the gentleman who delivered my room service dinner (presented on dome-topped plates and set on a cloth-covered table) was so lovely that had I asked him to feed me, I’m sure he would have agreed. My suite, as all others, had live flowering plants and my extra towels arrived in a bag, rather than thrown on the bed.
Of the 194 accommodations, only 40 are regular rooms (unusually large queen or king rooms) and most have a wonderful city view. The remainders are beautifully appointed suites with a mini kitchenette, free bottled water and plenty of work space.
When you’re hungry there are in-hotel options…the Empire Steakhouse is a dark wood restaurant serving prime meats and Bistango offers Italian fare. Don’t worry about the season when considering a drink or light nibbles at the Rooftop at Kimberly. The lounge operates in nice weather and is heated in the winter. A hot toddy in November curled up on a sofa looking at the Empire State building at dusk? Looking forward to it.
In the morning I finally faced reality…I didn’t really live in my suite. I had to collect my belongings, return my fluffy robe to the closet, use the last of the L’Occitane bath gel and say goodbye to the smiling folks in the lobby. As welcoming as they all were when I arrived, they bid me an equally sincere adieu.
I frequently stroll along 50th Street…I’ll stop in when I need a fix of Welcome Home.
For more information, see kimberlyhotel.com.
Shari Hartford is the former managing editor for Diversion magazine, where she wrote about travel in the northeast and cruising. She is currently a freelance writer and editor based in her hometown of New York City.