In the 34 years since Aman was founded and its first Phuket property opened, the brand has come to represent a certain kind of experience for a certain kind of traveler: understated, expansive and intimate, with a full-bodied approach. to well-being and an almost chameleon-like ability to adapt to the surrounding landscape. This is the case with Aman New York, the latest jewel in its crown, the brand’s very first urban outpost in the United States, and only its second urban property in the world after Aman Tokyo. (It’s also the launch property for the all-new members-only Aman Club, as well as the brand’s first batch of city residences.) And what a crown it is, to take up residence in the iconic Crown Building, a Beaux-Arts monument carefully renovated with Belgian designer Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston Architects. Aman’s talent lies in the seamless integration of its properties into its immediate surroundings – so it’s no surprise that even in the bustling, over-the-top, loud and bright Midtown Manhattan, within the walls of this century-old icon, he managed to incorporate Aman’s understated, heavily Japanese-influenced minimalism, and under the direction of Gathy, to ensure that even on the 14th floor, the elements can be found everywhere: bubbling water features temper the near-omniscience of fire — there’s apparently a fireplace behind every corner — while its airy spaces, including its grand double-height atrium and 7,000-square-foot all-weather outdoor terrace invoke air and earth together, thanks to abundant greenery. (Here, too, plant life nods to the brand’s Asian roots, including bonsai trees and Japanese and Canadian maples, while ikebana arrangements are scattered throughout the property.)
If each phase of the Aman New York experience feels like the next step in an elaborate nesting process – from entering the quiet ground floor lobby that immediately takes you away from the frenetic pace of Midtown Manhattan, to to the bright and expansive 14th – the floor atrium you enthrall – then walking through the hotel’s plush cream-colored corridors and reaching your suite feels like stepping into the inner sanctum. There are only 83 suites in total, and true to Aman’s philosophy of generous space, they all moan positively, at least by New York standards, ranging from 775 to 2,770 square feet, with ceilings nearly 11 feet tall that allows everything – including the guest – ample room to breathe. I stayed in a Premier Suite on the ninth floor, which overlooked 57th Street. The first thing I registered was the sound, or lack thereof. Thanks to the heavily soundproofed windows, the horns and cries of the city below were felt millions of miles away. The second thing I noticed was the working fireplace, which, in an impressive New York first, is outfitted in each of the building’s 83 suites and 22 residence halls. I love a fireplace, and this one gave a quiet warmth to the space, which, in keeping with Aman’s overall design philosophy, was otherwise minimal and clean, rendered in natural materials like stone and woods, and shades of oatmeal and slate, cream and black.
Many elements reflected a quintessentially Japanese sensibility: the textured panels behind the bed that resembled a shoji screen, for example, and the woven details underneath that were reminiscent of traditional tatami mats – not to mention the delicate hand-painted washi paper mural. ‘ink. running along a wall, inspired by the 15th century masterpiece “Pines” (Shōrin-zu byōbu) by Hasegawa Tōhaku. Whatever sense of calm the aesthetic imparted, it was backed up by smart, seamless technology: a tablet that controlled everything from lights to blinds and the fireplace, and even the TV, which discreetly disappeared into a console when turned off. There were no excesses, no distractions; even in dizzying Manhattan, I felt calm—serene, even—as I stretched out in the oversized king bed. The bedroom and bathroom are divided by a set of pivoting panels (which are backlit and encrusted with intricately detailed rice paper panels) that can open and close to varying degrees, allowing you to moderate the flow and movement between spaces. (These are particularly inspired by South Asian designs – from Bali, Indonesia and Thailand – where houses are open to the outdoors.) In the bathroom, the shower and the free-standing bathtub – the former , a small room fitted out in black stone and several shower heads, and the latter, like a huge half of a cracked eggshell, was massive. Sure, there were the requisite oversized Frette towels and bathrobes, and thoughtful amenities like a Dyson hairdryer, and extra toothpaste, razors and shaving cream, but the heated bathroom floors were perhaps my favorite surprise.