One of many reasons the 212-room Equinox Hotel is unique is its adjacent climbing frame, namely architect Thomas Heatherwick’s 45m-tall honeycomb-shaped Vessel sculpture. More one-offs: enter the hotel’s main door to walk past an undulating aluminium and steel wall (remember distorting mirrors at fairgrounds?). At the 25th floor reception, fashionistas in white suits explained that the David Rockwell-designed hotel occupies floors 24-38 of the 92-floor Related-owned building, anchor of Hudson’s Yards redevelopment on the city’s west side.
Equinox Hotel’s corner room 3211 looks across the Hudson to New Jersey. The room’s functionality was relieved by a wall-set artwork of overlapping grey circles, a minuscule cactus and a heavy Phaidon hardback, Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art, 2017.
Highlight, also, is the black eatertainment wall, with minibar (Krug and Whispering Angel), Nespresso, snacks and an ‘alternative pharmacy’. I could have purchased awake and restore supplements, anti-jetlag help, travel probiotics, hypertonic ampoules, high-performance power kit, magnesium sleep drops, sex and lover’s oil (singular) – and a pencil case. Add to the hypothetical shopping bag full work-out gear, aromatherapeutic candles, eye mask, facial puffs, detox hydrolats, and, the most expensive item, high-performance anti-ageing and filler lip treatment, US$125. It is amazing there was room for a bed.
The room’s appeal was boosted by yoga equipment, Grown Alchemist pump-pot toiletries, free laundry, and entreaties by an anonymous author to say positive things, say happiness in the morning, gratitude at night.
I suspect, correctly, that the entreaties come from Equinox Hotels’ CEO Chris Norton, a long-time Four Seasons leader with years of following, and leading, the power of personal wellness.
He and his team all believe in high-performance living. This includes, here, interacting with the integral Equinox Club, an enormous, and seriously significant entity spread over two floors: after being somewhat intimidated by a near bootcamp corps of local members, I headed outside for a half-hour solo climb of the Heatherwick frame.
Electric Lemon bar-restaurant, which warrants 10/10 for ambience, noisy buzz as well as food and drink, is 30 stairs down from Reception. It is run by Stephen Starr’s STARR Group, which also produces room service, then delivered by some of the 150-total hotel staff.
We sit at what could best be described as an intimate wood table. I eat simply, crudités, with carrot juice and fermented soy sauce dip, followed by a 14oz prime ribeye from ‘44 Farms’ in Texas (this is the largest producer of Black Angus in USA). My steak is brought with a bowl of chimichurri, and a tomato salad. I have a Degrenne steak knife, from France. I drink Californian, Tyler 2017 Pinot Noir.
In the morning, the restaurant seems another world, quiet and spacious. A female crooner, taped, is soothing. I share my wood table merely with a small cactus and a bowl of sugar twists. As now seems to be US luxury-level breakfast mode, all dishes are ‘composed’. Beauty Bowl, for instance, is beet yoghurt, strawberries, raspberries, pistachios and bee pollen.
On the health tack there is also grilled avocado with smoked salmon, crunchy seeds and market herbs. Alternatives include an Equinox breakfast set, hot beverage, two poached eggs, nut-seed crumble, spelt avo toast, fruit, plus your choice of black pepper pork bacon, turkey bacon or chicken sausage. There is an Equinox pastries basket for the sweet-toothed. The non-stop coffee, from a black vacuum flask, is remarkably good.
It is raining, hard, as I leave. VP guest experience Nathan, from Singapore, is there to see me off, with a flourish. He hands me over to a bellman, a transparent uniform-raincoat over his white suit, who helps me to the car taking me uptown. Were I leaving straight for JFK, incidentally, I would have opted for the hotel’s US$195 helicopter shuttle, 15 minutes from West 31st St Heliport, three minutes from the hotel, to the airport.