When choosing a place to stay in New York City, there is no doubt that travellers – for business or pleasure – are inundated with accommodation possibilities. Everything is on offer in this vibrant city, be it sleek and efficient hotel groups such as the Four Seasons, the old-school St Regis on Fifth Avenue or a plethora of hip boutique hotels downtown. But the truly discerning traveller is always on the lookout for something a little different, perhaps with a more personal touch. So it is with this in mind that I set out to sample the Lauren Berger Collection, an exclusive portfolio of eight serviced rental properties ranging from deluxe apartments in Manhattan to a ranch house in Greenwich, Connecticut (just over half an hour by train from Grand Central Terminal).
Having lived in the city for four years seven years ago, I’m interested to see what else is on offer at a time when even the most elite traveller is seeking more for their dollar. I’m told that the Collection’s properties combine the privileges and conveniences of both hotel and high-end rental accommodation, all within some of the world’s most desirable settings. Moreover, the Lauren Berger Collection prides itself on offering a viable alternative in a challenging financial climate, ‘perfectly in keeping with the current direction in luxury accommodations: sophisticated without being flashy; rich in heritage and culture without feeling stuffy or untouchable.’
THE WOMAN BEHIND THE NAME
During the day we spend together, Lauren tells me that much of her life has been devoted to creating warm, beautiful environments for her family and friends. A ball of energy, she relishes the old-fashioned value of an impeccably kept house, explaining that nothing is too much for her, from cleaning the bathroom floors to polishing her prize table-top items. (Lauren and her husband have amassed an extensive collection of crystal and china, and in the past she had a business preparing royal tabletops for major banquets and clients). Can this woman be for real, I wonder?
As it turns out, she most certainly is. Lauren’s childhood was spent at the heart of a large, loving family (she is one of eleven siblings) which celebrated every moment. Growing up with an instinctive understanding of service and hospitality, it soon became her life’s goal to create environments in which people feel warm and welcome. Lauren has a knack for putting people at ease – this is a woman who clearly loves to make new friends. Guests are treated as extended family members, and indeed Lauren calls each and every property her ‘home’, assuring me that she has slept in every bedroom. Her logo sums it up perfectly: ‘My home is your home so you never feel like you left your own.’
The eight properties in the Collection can be found at some of the most prestigious addresses in North America. Boasting high levels of security and privacy, these homes-away-from-home bring together the comforts of a private residence with an outstanding bespoke service. Properties are lovingly decorated and filled with heirlooms and treasures gleaned from Lauren’s extensive travels. The spaces she has created are understated and elegant, and each one is an expression of Lauren’s meticulous approach to hosting and entertaining.
The Collection’s signature Manhattan apartments, perfectly situated in the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South, come complete with all the amenities of a five-star hotel: concierge, restaurant, health-club and round-the-clock room service. I stay in the spacious one-bedroom apartment, which features fine Art Deco furnishings, plenty of space to entertain and the most exquisite linens known to man. Needless to say, I sleep like a log. An ideal pied-a-terre, the apartment boasts a walk-in closet larger than my bedroom in London! It’s a treat not to be confined to a hotel room – all of which are notoriously small in this city. A second, two-bedroom apartment on the eleventh floor is far grander, with 180-degree views over Central Park, spectacular art, a spacious foyer and use of the owners’ irresistible Baccarat crystal glasses. That’s the beauty of staying at one of Lauren’s properties: you can treat it like your own.
The Collection also has an 1800-square foot, two-bedroom apartment located in one of New York’s most sought-after enclaves, Sutton Place on the Upper East Side. Making use of its lofty position on the forty-first floor of an iconic Emery Roth-designed Beaux Arts building, the space has wrap-around windows which provide spectacular city and river views. Other features include valet parking, an onsite garage and a gym – all of which, one might argue, are essential for city living.
During my day with Lauren, I visit a further two homes in Westhampton, New York. The first, which dates back to 1890, exudes vintage charm while providing the full range of contemporary conveniences. The open-plan top floor includes a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, fireplace, plank oak floor and vaulted ceiling with wooden beams. This three-bedroom house is set on two beautifully groomed acres and, thanks to a huge deck and heated pool, is perfectly adapted to entertaining. I can tell that it would be ideal for summer living and yet cosy in winter, and I don’t want to leave.
The second, Westhampton Manor, is a stately waterfront home furnished in an elegant, country style. Situated on two tranquil acres, the property has its own private dock with ocean access, immaculately kept grounds, separate staff quarters, seven bedrooms, plus a pool, spa and sauna. Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Manhattan, the village of Westhampton offers pristine local beaches, tennis academies and outstanding restaurants.
Rounding off an impressive list, the Collection also includes a property in Greenwich, Connecticut (next door to the prestigious Greenwich Golf Club), a Colonial home in New Rochelle with views of Long Island Sound and a lakeside property in Eastchester.
SERVICE FROM THE HEART
While staying at any of these residences, additional services available on request include a 24-hour butler, in-house chef and sommelier, personal shoppers (covering anything from fashion and art to cars and real estate), a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom and a private yacht with captain. The team at the Lauren Berger Collection takes service to a new level. Lauren personally trains every member of her team, encouraging them to approach the care of the properties and guests with warmth and devotion – an approach based on her own close-knit family life. She is quick to highlight that her team are happy to cater for every occasion, be it a lavish wedding ceremony, romantic getaway, corporate retreat or family reunion. She also offers her properties for short- or long-term corporate and diplomatic relocations.
In short, the Lauren Berger Collection is the smart choice for luxury accommodation in New York City and its environs. The Collection’s range of luxurious, stylishly decorated homes in breathtaking settings – and moreover Lauren Berger’s unique approach to hospitality – is sure to offer something that will satisfy your unique needs and create lasting memories.