By Debra Simon and Brack Johnson

Sure, you could bunk with Great Aunt Bertha in the Bronx. You could take your chances on Priceline.com. You could even tough it out in a flea-bag motel.

But for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, nothing compares to breaking the bank on a luxurious hotel room in the Big Apple.

We set out to discover the feeling of living large in over-the-top properties offering the likes of $1,000 eggs, $12,595-a-night presidential suites and $35 water dishes delivered via room service for a pampered pet.

Since New York is the ultimate melting pot, we selected three West Side hotels, all recently opened or renovated, with influences from around the world: Sofitel, inspired by its home country of France; Mandarin Oriental, giving off an Asian-contemporary vibe; and Le Parker Meridien, broadcasting in an outrageous New Yawk accent.


Gazing up at Sofitel’s glittering limestone-and-glass tower on 44th Street west of Fifth Avenue, a prized location for frequent visitors to the city, we know we’re about to enter a ritzy world of hushed conversations and big deals.

Just five years old, the Sofitel lobby feels like both New York and Paris in the 1940s, with clubby leather furniture and major architectural structures, such as a spiral staircase and massive columns.

Shown to our sumptuous quarters by an exceedingly polite employee, we’re bowled over by a two-room suite that continues the updated Art Deco theme.

Cool, contemporary honey and cream colors play off a three-paneled, full-wall headboard. There’s a posh bathroom with dark-wood accents, fluffy towels and pricey toiletries.

From our lovely perch, the view of the City That Never Sleeps is so striking we can’t tear ourselves away.

So we do what any member of the manicured set would do in the same situation — stay put and dial room service.


Talk about magnificent views! Opened in 2003 in the upscale Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, the Mandarin Oriental is a wall of windows offering breathtaking vistas of the Manhattan skyline, Central Park and the Hudson River not just from its stunning lobby, restaurant and bar but from our very own room.

In a city replete with high-class hostelries, the opulent Mandarin Oriental redefines glamour. If there was ever a reason to splurge, this is it.

Greeted by a phalanx of handsome security guards (actually there to receive a motorcade of real VIPS), we’re awed by the elegance of it all — from the fusion of modern and Asian design to the deferential treatment by every member of the staff.
And then there’s the 14,500-square-foot spa.

An urban oasis offering holistic rejuvenation in a tranquil, meditative setting, the spa is distinguished by its “journeys of the senses” concept, in which one books blocks of time rather than specific services.

Our particular journey takes us not to the treatment rooms but to the state-of-the-art fitness center and the sparkling, 75-foot lap pool.

Wrapped in thick robes and clad in soft slippers, we pad back to our quarters, where, after showers in a bathroom of Spanish marble and Italian granite, we tussle over who gets to flop on the plush, inviting chaise strategically placed (where else?) by the window.


French name? Fuhgettaboudit! Journey of the senses? Enough already!

If hotels could talk, this one would sound like a taxi driver from Brooklyn.

A multimillion-dollar renovation several years ago brought sass, as well as class, to the smooth marble floors and vaulted ceilings of the formerly stuffy place on 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

From the moment we enter the elevator, outfitted with video monitors playing Charlie Chaplin and Tom & Jerry clips, we get the hotel’s nod to New York attitude.

Inside our Scandinavian-style junior suite, we open the mini-bar to check the offerings and spy a snappy sign that says, “You touch it, you pay for it.”

Thus warned, we turn to Norma’s, an ultramodern ode to anytime eggs, where we indulge in Gravlax Napoleon over bagel chips and Wa-Za Fruit-Infused Waffles.

This is, after all, the hotel with the famous $1,000 omelet, dubbed the “Zillion Dollar Frittata,” which is stuffed with a whole lobster and 10 ounces of sevruga caviar.
But even the rich and famous must go home some time.

Before we check out — just to get back in touch with the common folk — we stop by the no-name burger joint, a greasy spoon tucked into the swanky lobby, where we order a burger, fries and a Diet Coke for under $8.


For more New York City information, visit the following sites:

Official NYC Tourism Site: www.nycvisit.com 

Go City Kids, traveling with children: www.gocitykids.com/?area=197 

Daily Candy, fashion, food, arts, culture for NYC: www.dailycandy.com/

The Insider NYC, great for museums, all 5 boroughs: www.theinsider.com/nyc/index.html