The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review
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Hilary Stockton
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The Setai Fifth Avenue is one of our most popular NYC hotels, so I decided to experience it firsthand recently. You may have seen in the news last year that it's been acquired by Langham, and will be rebranded as Langham Place. It was supposed to take place in January, but this has been pushed back and for now, at least, it's still The Setai Fifth Avenue and there are numerous reminders of its former owner, Capella.

The Setai's location at 400 Fifth Avenue, between 36th and 37th streets, is best suited for business travelers with meetings in lower midtown, although of course it is just 2 blocks from the iconic Empire State Building, which was another motivation for our stay. Hint: You can only hear about the 102 floors and other Empire State Building trivia every night at dinner for so many weeks before you give in and take your kid there :-)

We'd had a busy Saturday, so arrived around 4pm. There was only one agent at the front desk, and she was busy speaking to a prospective guest on the phone when I arrived, but she ended the call soon and welcomed me. Our deal was only for the entry level Standard King, so I asked about a potential upgrade, knowing this is a slow time for the hotel. The agent offered to upgrade us to the next level up, a Superior, but mentioned she wasn't authorized to give any further upgrades. Fair enough, so I asked about paying for an upgrade, and mentioned how much we'd love to have a view of the Empire State Building. We arranged one at a fair rate, and we were on our way to our Empire State King Room on the 15th floor.

The design sensibility of the Setai Fifth Avenue is sleek, modern and minimalist--very akin to the Park Hyatt, though I found our room to have a lot more light than, say, the Park Hyatt Washington DC, thanks to the Setai's floor to ceiling windows.  The foyer offered plenty of space to remove our shoes, and on the left was an intriguing closet-like space, although not a closet since it had no place to hang things. Instead, it served as one of the (many) favorite hiding spots for the munchkin. There was also a Capella umbrella conveniently visible, though thankfully we had perfectly clear weather and no need for it.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Entry and umbrella

 

Entering the main room, we were struck by the space. Our most recent NYC hotel stay prior to this one was at the W New York Downtown, and while we enjoyed our corner room there, it was nothing space-wise compared to this: 930 square feet. 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Empire King

 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Empire King Room

 

Here's the sitting area:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Empire King Sitting Area

 

And the King bed, custom made by Duxiana with Pratesi linens. A bit low to the floor, but that was fine by us, and certainly fine by the munchkin, who as a special treat got to watch a Dora the Explorer episode on the flat screen TV.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Empire King with King Bed

 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Relaxing on the Duxiana Bed

 

Of course, the most arresting view came from the floor to ceiling windows facing south, towards the Empire State Building:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - View of the Empire State Building

 

There was a door to the bathroom and walk-in closet, which meant that we were effectively able to turn this room into a suite. We made up a cozy bed for our son in the walk in closet, with cushions from the chairs and an extra duvet and pillows, and he was very happy "camping out" there. Now, this wouldn't work for an older child or adult, as there's not enough space for an actual rollaway bed in there, but for us it was perfect.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Entrance to Bathroom and Walk in Closet

 

The bathroom has a deep Zuma soaking tub and separate glass enclosed rain shower:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Bathroom Soaking Tub and Rain Shower

 

There was a dual vanity with "his and hers" sinks, and the mirror had an embedded TV, handy if you wanted to watch the news while getting ready in the morning or...in the munchkin's case, "Sid the Science Kid" on PBS. I haven't watched PBS children's programming in a few decades, so it's come a long way since Sesame Street viewed on a black and white TV :-)

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Empire King Bathroom

 

The toilet is in a separate chamber:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Bathroom Toilet

 

Bath amenities are by Lorenzo Villoresi of Florence. A nice fragrance, although my personal preference is for L'Occitane. There were bath salts placed on the soaking tub, a nice touch, although my son would have preferred bubble bath, as at the Amankila in Bali. 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Lorenzo Villoresi Bath Amenities

 

The minibar was complimentary, a nice touch, even though we're not ones to maximize this as we don't drink any soda. Still, the complimentary Saratoga spring water was refreshing. There were also half & half containers available, if you didn't want to take your espresso black. 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Complimentary Minibar

 

I especially loved the in-room Nespresso machine, which is in every room, even Standard Rooms.

Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Nespresso Machine

 

Our room deal included complimentary breakfast, and from prior reviews, I thought that it might only mean coffee or juice and a pastry, but surprisingly, we were told it was a $70 credit. So in the morning, we went down to Ai Fiori. I pretty much savaged Ai Fiori last year for its Restaurant Week offering (lackluster service and food, except for dessert) so again I wasn't expecting much. 

I was pleasantly surprised this time around. Breakfast wasn't cheap, but no pricier than most other hotel breakfasts, and they didn't stint in the serving of the fresh squeezed orange juice:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Ai Fiori

 

There were three generously sized buttermilk pancakes, and while the ricotta and apple compote that they came with was a rather small portion, there was plenty of maple syrup, and even chocolate syrup.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Pancakes at Ai Fiori

 

The lobster benedict was fantastic--best I've had anywhere.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Lobster Benedict at Ai Fiori

 

We didn't have time to try Auriga Spa or use the fitness center, but the fitness center was a bit larger than I expected:

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Fitness Center

 

One of the things I love most about The Setai Fifth Avenue is the no set check in or check out time--you simply arrange your own with the front desk. Now, I've heard that some folks waited to check in, so I advise contacting the hotel well in advance if you really need an early check in, but at least for us, it was no problem to arrange a 3:30pm check out, and then move that later to 4pm when 3:30pm proved to be not quite enough time for us.

Another perk? The Maserati house car. Yep, enjoy arriving--to your meeting, dinner, or wherever you need to go in Manhattan--in style. Safe to say this was the first time for all three of us in a Maserati.

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Maserati

 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Maserati

 

The Setai Fifth Avenue NYC Hotel Review - Maserati

 

The Verdict: I hope Langham knows what it's doing and doesn't change much, because at least our experience, notwithstanding the transition from Capella to Langham, was excellent. Really, the only thing I'd say was missing was a true hotel lobby. There's a bit of seating off to the side of the stairs and sculpture, but nothing else, probably because that space was instead allocated to Bar on Fifth. Which is fair enough, this is pricey real estate, and the hotel wants to make some money from that space. The hard product is excellent, especially if you can get one of the larger rooms or suites, since it's rare to find this much space in a Manhattan hotel room. And every staff members we encountered was pleasant and helpful. Definitely recommended, at least for now--time will tell how well the hotel holds up under Langham.

Finally, note that obviously this is not a cheap place to stay in NYC, especially in an Empire King, even with a good rate. But if you can afford it and appreciate a spacious, modern room that's more like having your own luxury apartment in NYC than a hotel room, The Setai Fifth Avenue is a great choice.

If you've stayed at The Setai Fifth Avenue, what was your experience?

 

Related Posts

Empire State Building Visiting Tips

Ai Fiori NYC Restaurant Week Review

Romantic Getaway to New York City

New York City with Kids


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Comments
Avatar_60_masha Masha G. commented 16 Jan 2013
This is my favorite NYC hotel. It is not cheap, so I try to find less expensive ways to stay there. I guess I should thank TravelSort, because I booked my last stay there through TravelSort and it was by far the cheapest price available anywhere. So, thanks! I love the elegant, but not stuffy, feel of the Setai, and for me its Fifth Avenue location is perfect. I hope Langam does not try to change it too much.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 16 Jan 2013
Masha, So glad you enjoyed your stay, and thanks for booking with us!
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