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Checking In: Central Park

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At 412 feet above the sidewalk, on the southwestern corner of Central Park, sits room 5106 of the New York Mandarin Oriental hotel. Crane your neck to the left and you can see all the way up Central Park West; turn to the right and look window to window with Midtown. Laid out in front of you like a welcome mat is Central Park itself, from Sheep's Meadow to the reservoir, the softball fields to the Met. Just one thing dilutes the feeling of total world domination that accompanies such a sight—the Trump International Hotel & Tower. Standing smack in the center of the panorama, the Trump hotel cuts a sliver out of the Mandarin Oriental's park view, leaving you to muse ruefully, If this view is good, theirs must be great. And it is. When you gaze from room 1604 of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, Central Park is completely unobstructed, with nothing between the window and the acres of lush foliage. Our only quibble is that the guest rooms go to the 17th floor, bringing you, at most, 150 feet off the ground. You feel like you could pick the trees like dandelions, but you're not quite on the tip-top of the world. Still, given a choice, we'll take Trump's pristine panorama over one that's less than perfect. Mandarin Oriental: rates, $625-$12,600; 80 Columbus Circle; 866-801-8880; Trump International: rates, $600-$1,900; 1 Central Park West; 888-448-7867;

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