PanaTimes

Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

Inside Richard Branson’s playful new Manhattan mega hotel

Inside Richard Branson’s playful new Manhattan mega hotel

It’s been years in the making — does Virgin Hotels New York mark the start of a new luxury travel empire for the British billionaire? Alexandra Jones travels to the States to find out

This is Sir Richard Branson’s first New York opening — a vast, 460 room, 39-floor glass behemoth with multiple roof terraces, bars, a pool and even a taverna, which will one day become an ivy festooned wedding venue (though admittedly when I see it ahead of the hotel’s grand opening the ivy is yet to grow in, so it’s all looking a little skeletal).

Branson broke ground on the project way back in 2015 and the development represents hundreds of millions in terms of investment. It’s one of the flagship openings which is meant to set the tone, in terms of scale and ambition, for the rapidly expanding Virgin Hotels empire. This year the company will also begin work on sites in Miami and Denver and has an eye on London too — it’s a far cry from 2020 when, as Branson recently told the BBC, thanks to the pandemic he “thought we were going to lose everything.”

Virgin Hotels New York was purpose built: the company broke ground on the site in 2015

Has all that time and money paid off in New York? In a word: yes.

Admittedly, Virgin Hotels New York is trying to be all things to all people. On the one hand, it’s giving vibey party hotel with a Pool Club that serves cocktails all day and a late night ‘Shag Room’ (think karaoke, crimson banquettes and a statement chandelier), on the other, it has the kind of sober and unfussy bedrooms that seem much more suited to business travellers.

Still, it would be difficult to have a bad time there — the place exudes an air of fun and frivolity. The staff are effusively polite, the views are impeccable, the music is (quite often) live, the food is standout. If this is Branson’s bid to shore up Virgin’s future, it’s a good one.

Virgin Hotels New York


Where is it?


Right in the middle of Manhattan, towering cheek-by-jowl next to the Empire State Building.

The view from the pool deck at Virgin Hotels New York

Most of the rooms have spectacular views of the landmark (as well as the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty). Even if you’re sprawled by the pool (it’s reserved exclusively for hotel guests), which is on the fourth floor and dwarfed by the skyscrapers around it, you’re still afforded one of the most iconic vistas in Manhattan thanks to the hotel’s proximity to the Empire State.


It’s a slice of prime real estate in NoMad (short for North of Madison Square Park) which puts you within 30 minutes’ walking distance of Central Park (perfect if you want to get a morning run in), 20 minutes from MoMA and Grand Central Station, and just ten minutes from Madison Square Garden and Times Square.

It’s ideally located for anyone looking to explore Manhattan on foot. NoMad has recently seen a slew of new hotel openings including the Ritz-Carlton, The Ned (which opened in late 2022) and The Ace — all are just a block or two from the Virgin location and it’s easy to see why it’s become such an attractive area for a certain breed of vibey hotel chain — this is the quintessential New York experience.


Style

Virgin Hotels New York

Despite how big the hotel is, the communal spaces feel warm and playful with Everdene — the all-day-dining restaurant and terrace which takes up the hotel’s entire third floor — acting as the heart of the operation. It’s a 4000-square-foot space, suffused with light and buzzing with activity from sun-up to way past sundown. Floral-festooned armchairs, blue velvet sofas, a scarlet baby grand piano, statement scarlet staircase — it borders on chintzy but is undoubtedly a fun space.

The Shag Room at Virgin Hotels New York


The Shag Room is a low-lit, late night cocktail bar serving nibbles and party vibes. Karaoke can be requested, though the crowd when I stayed seemed too cool for it.

Virgin Hotels New York


By contrast, the ‘chambers’ (i.e. rooms) have playful touches but are fairly basic on the whole. Virgin have optimised the space by turning the entrance hall area into a dressing room (complete with vanity and softly lit make-up mirror) and then have a sliding partition door in case you want to separate it from the bedroom.

Virgin Hotels New York


It’s a clever use of 25-square-metres and makes everything feel spacious and well thought out. The standout feature in each chamber is really the floor-to-ceiling windows — and admittedly, you don’t need zany artworks and plush fabrics when Broadway and the Empire State Building are your backdrop. Otherwise, the rooms are simply but comfortably furnished and decorated mainly in white — with pops of Virgin’s signature red here and there (each room, for instance, comes with a red Smeg mini fridge).


Food & drink


The modern American menu at Everdene is the work of chef Freddy Vargas (an alumni of Scarpetta in Beverly Hills — now closed, though once a regular haunt for the likes of Rihanna, Samuel L. Jackson, and Hilary Swank). And wow-ee, the food is good — whether you’re in for breakfast, lunch or dinner the fare at Everdene is fresh, unpretentious and big on flavour.

At breakfast the egg white frittata with spinach, shitake and goats cheese was a revelation. Egg white anything is always a good barometer for a chef’s culinary skills given how bland it has the potential to be — this frittata was positively moreish. I asked for the recipe. Equally not to be missed, the indulgently creamy scrambled eggs with burrata. At dinner, the tagliolini with forest mushroom, garlic, chive and a mountain of parmigiano reggiano was the standout — deliciously indulgent and earthy. A fine dining restaurant is set to open in the building too in the coming months, though Everdene, with its nightly live jazz performances (that red baby grand gets put to good use!), more than holds its own as a destination restaurant.


Extracurricular


You’re right in the middle of Manhattan and the island is your oyster. If you want to be wowed by the city itself, head to the nearby One Vanderbilt and try the Summit Experience — it’s part viewing platform, part art installation and is one of the most spectacular ways to see the city from high up.


AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.
Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
US and European Intelligence Agencies Uncover Evidence of Ukrainian Role in Terror Attack on Nord Stream Pipeline
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Hold Power Talks with President Biden in Washington
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
If you donated to BLM, you got played
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Saudi Arabia and Canada Restore Diplomatic Relations
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Last Walmart in North Portland Closing Down
Florida's DeSantis seeks to disqualify judge in Disney case
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Disney has canceled plans to build a new campus in Florida worth almost $1 billion
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
Tucker Carlson is back, soon!
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
US Congresswoman threaten Twitter Files journalist with arrest
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
The land of the free violence
×