Did you ever notice how many Manhattan hotel exteriors are often buried in the jumble of surrounding architecture and obfuscated by the frenetic street activity? Without signage, you'd walk right past many of their entrances without noticing.
An exception to this scenario, Sofitel NYC, rises 30 stories above 44th and 45th streets, sheathed in a contemporary pattern of limestone and glass among midtown Manhattan's concrete canyons. Upon stepping through the doorman-attended glass front doors, you have entered a level of refinement that Sofitel, the only French luxury hotels brand with a presence on five continents, can create. Sofitel's signature French “art de vivre” is on display before even reaching the reception desk.
You walk through an enormous lobby filled with five individual seating areas lined with velvet couches and clusters of sumptuous leather club chairs surrounded by copious vases of fresh cut flowers. Pierre-Yves Rochon, a Paris-based French designer, created this setting along with all 398 guest room interiors that showcase a twist on classic Parisian and Manhattan 1940s Art Deco.
Perhaps the most definitive feature of staying at Sofitel NYC is how the hotel bridges French culture with NYC's penchant for brash displays of Americana. Bilingual France-Amerique magazine is prominently on display in the lobby and rooms, classic closeup photographs of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty line the walls, and most notably the menu at onsite Gaby Brasserie Francais invites you to luxuriate in French cuisine.
Named after a Parisian model who found inspiration and an eventual home in 1920s New York,Gaby's menu features classic French dishes ranging from coq au vin to steak frites, as well as foie gras au torchon and caille en crapaudine (marinated and seared boneless quail, grilled eggplant, yellow squash and red pepper, and porcini sauce), reflecting executive chef Sylvain Harribey's individual approach to flavors and seasonal ingredients.
Lenotre-trained Harribey's culinary achievements include winning first prize on Food Network's hit show Chopped and helming Philadelphia’s renowned Chez Colette before arriving at Sofitel in 2009. Harribey's quick to point out that he cooks from his heart, shaped in a big way by his upbringing in Rouen, a part of northern France's Bordeaux region. “I look for new ways to refine classic French recipes and techniques, trying new combinations of ingredients, experimenting with culinary traditions, and procuring only the freshest products from local farms when possible” says Harribey.
Along with an impressive list of fine wines and champagne, Gaby's bar serves up a wide range of expertly prepared cocktails ranging from the classics to seasonal concoctions like Four Aces, mixed with Ciroc, Domaine de Canton, lime juice, simple syrup, red grapes, and basil leaves.
Photos courtesy of Accor Hotels. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored visit.