Regent Wall Street

The ballroom begs for a party

New York
Staying at the new Regent Wall Street made me want to throw a party. Not because my stock portfolio is soaring, but because the ballroom begs for it. A vast hall with a gilded dome, balcony, and 60-foot Corinthian columns, this Greek Revival masterwork formerly held the Merchant's Exchange and is now perfectly suited for a cocktail party for 2,000. (That according to the desk receptionist who showed it to me on the way up to my room.) The only problem: It makes the guestrooms upstairs pale by comparison.

Actually, the rooms would pale anyway because they are pale. Taking the most extreme stance in favor of a neutral palate that I've seen in any recent hotel, the designers, Hablinski Interiors, have decorated all 144 rooms in variations of taupe. If you've had a hard day crunching numbers, the absence of color is probably soothing. If you haven't, it could look a bit dull, regardless of the velvet-and-silk damask fabrics and the light fixtures of Murano glass.

If the hotel skimped on color, it didn't skimp on space. It has some of the biggest rooms of any New York hotel. The smallest is 500 square feet, the largest 1,100, with suites averaging about 700 square feet. Moreover, the ceilings in most rooms are 11 feet high. Bathrooms are similarly spacious, with deep soaking tubs and subdued lighting—great for relaxing, not so great for putting on makeup—and televisions are big, 37-inch sets encased in custom Italian armoires scaled to the rooms. I liked the six Loft Executive Suites on the ninth floor the best because of the 14-foot ceilings in the entryway and the terraces facing Wall Street. They also have the color that other rooms lack—particularly green and gold, with nice accent pieces like gold side tables.

Despite having been open only a few weeks at the time of my visit, the service overall was exceptional—friendly, warm, smooth, and professional. (A special thank you to the front desk attendant for her stock of drugstore items.) The only amenity that backfired was the minibar, which is kept empty so that you can order what you want when you arrive. Good idea. But why a $5 fee for the first order?

Since this isn't an area with many good places to eat, 55 Wall, the hotel restaurant, is a plus, more so because the food is very good overall. We liked the barbecued duck salad over baby spinach, the creamy tuna tartare, the roasted chicken with winter root vegetables, and a straightforward but well-prepared rack of lamb. (Memo to the hotel: Ask the waiters not to interrupt conversations.) One aspect of the restaurant that will be great by the time you read this is the outdoor dining terrace. $295-$1,200. 55 Wall Street; 800-545-4000; 212-845-8600; fax 212-845-8601.