Tucked between buildings, I didn’t immediately notice Pendry Manhattan West’s eye-catching architecture until across the street. The wavy façade described as curtain-like by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is meant to reflect light and shadows from every angle. The 23-story building pays homage to the brand’s coastal California roots while infusing New York’s singular energy into its folds.
Founded in 2015, Pendry Hotels comprise a collection of luxury hotels popping up in cities around the U.S. from San Diego to Chicago. Parent company, Montage International, operates as a luxury hospitality management company encompassing the ultra-luxury brand Montage Hotels & Resorts, the new luxury hospitality brand Pendry Hotels, plus Montage Residences and Pendry Residences.
Midtown West Location
I lived in Manhattan for two decades. I jumped around neighborhoods racking up a few years in Tribeca, Hell’s Kitchen, Nolita, and finally the West Village. I can count the number of times I visited Midtown West on one hand: to book a loft for my wedding reception and to attend my wedding reception in that loft. While I might be exaggerating, the point I’m making is this: nobody went to the west 30s unless they had to. Imagine my surprise, then, walking from Penn Station with my bag to Pendry Manhattan West to discover a bustling enclave in which I wanted to spend time. I’d originally made dinner plans in the East Village but cancelled them to dine at the hotel’s restaurant Zou Zou’s. More on that in a minute.
Now that Midtown West boasts destination-worthy shops, dining, and parks like the Highline, I can say that Pendry Manhattan West enjoys an exceptional location on West 33rd near 10th Avenue. Whether commuting overnight for work, visiting the city from the tri-state on the train, or even flying into Newark and taking the NJ Transit to Penn Station, Pendry Manhattan West requires a brief walk blissfully free of hailing and paying for cabs or Ubers.
The redeveloped Empire Station Complex which includes Madison Square Garden and Moynihan Train Hall lends fresh gloss to this slice of Manhattan, as does Hudson Yards, the food hall Citizens Manhattan, and the glorious love letter to Spanish cuisine, Mercardo Little Spain by Chef José Andrés and the Adría Brothers. Throw in all the city’s best coffee shops from Think, Blue Bottle, to Bluestone Lane, plus a Whole Foods, and you could easily spend a few days without leaving the area.
Pendry Manhattan West boasts 164 guest rooms, including 30 suites, each featuring warm but minimal interiors by famed design group Gachot Studios. A neutral color palette, curvy details, and soft textures calm the senses after pounding the pavement in the summer heat. Views of nearby office buildings and a sliver of river remind me how thankful I am I don’t work in an office. My room has a desk and a seating area allowing me to catch up on some emails between exploring sights and bites.
On the ground floor, a coffee shop and common area provide additional space to work.
The 24/7 gym spans 1,700 square featuring all-new Technogym equipment, an intimate Movement Studio for light stretching, personal yoga and physical activity. The spin studio comes stacked with Peloton bikes (the company’s offices are across the street as a constant reminder to work out), and the main floor features a fleet of treadmills, free weights, a smith machine, among other equipment that will suit any workout. It’s one of the most complete gyms I’ve seen in a Manhattan hotel – or gym.
Thankfully I squeezed in one workout to compensate for the evening ahead. The hotel has four beverage unique food and beverage destinations, including signature restaurant Zou Zou’s, a 4th floor cocktail lounge called Chez Zou, Bar Pendry & Garden Room, and the daily breakfast outpost, Vista Lounge. Black Fox Coffee is an adjacent café next door.
Drinks at Chez Zou
Chez Zou, the hotel’s stylish fourth floor cocktail lounge, incorporates rich colors with biophilic design to moody, romantic effect. The tightly edited beverage list runs pricey ($20s+) but no more than the going rate for New York drinks by expert mixologists in a setting fit for a film noir movie. To wit, one-of-a-kind creations by Joey Smith, formerly of the NoMad, at Chez Zou.
To experience the micro-ambiances around the room, I swapped my seat with each drink. I perched at the illuminated bar for a Papa Mele, a mezcal-based concotion with mango, cardamom, clove, lemon, and a chili tincture. Crossing the black-and-white tiled floor, I slipped into a velvet banquette tucked discreetly between towering tropical plants to contemplate a fig and honeyball based on sherry, red wine, fig leaf, honey, and soda. The bar to mingle, the banquette to canoodle, I decided. Outside, the terrace hosted post-work socializers but I preferred the cool (and air-conditioned) vibes of the interior.
Dinner at Zou Zou’s
Hotel Restaurants are having a moment, and Zou Zou’s leads the way. In the old days, nobody dared step inside a Manhattan hotel to dine, especially a local. By design, they serviced the tired or ill-informed tourist, feeding them steak, pork chops, and some familiar version of chicken as an afterthought from overlord bean counters. Nowadays, hotels know that good business means creating fun, fresh spaces that everyone wants to play in, including residents, and that means partnering with creatives and experienced culinary teams.
To wit, Zou Zou’s is part of restaurant group Quality Branded. In partnership with Montage Hotels & Resorts, they’ve opened the vibrant space with Chef Madeline Sperling and sous chef Juliana Latif at the helm of this Eastern Mediterranean live-fire cooking bonanza. The menu celebrates the cuisine and flavors of the Levant, touching on Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, even Yemen. Reading the menu sent me on a journey through places I dream to visit.
The gorgeous interior designed by AvroKO, offers 75-seats and features an open kitchen centered around a wood-fired hearth. Dark woods, off-white plasters, and glittering blue and green tiles serve a feast for the eyes as though you’re dining in the New York fantasy mash-up of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul set in the 1930s.
The restaurant dons its party hat from the moment it opens for lunch. Giving off Lebanese café vibes with its outdoor seating on the pedestrian plaza, one could linger all day over glasses of wine paired to a repast of crunchy, bright fattoush salad, followed by creative Mediterranean dips including whipped ricotta and chickpea hummus with savory black garlic chunks slathered over hot Turkish bazlama bread.
However, the real festival starts at night when the arched glass bar draped in plants, rocks with the joyous cacophony of tipplers and diners. Luckily, I had a 7:30 PM table and could linger all evening to savor the spectacle.
For wine, I went classic with Burgundy. Specifically, we picked a Chambolle-Musigny on the advice of a helpful sommelier and affable server. I wanted a little structure, a little acid, a whiff of raspberry and rose perfume to create the perfect match for the march of dishes underway. The wine proved the perfect choice.
We sucked down luscious oysters, worked through a kaleidoscope of dips and flavors, testing each out pillowy Lebanese focaccia and flaky honey-butter kubaneh known as Yemeni pull apart rolls. At the table, our server lit the kasseri cheese on fire. The traditional Greek-Turkish sheep milk that tastes like butter transformed into the “hot” dish noted in the title.
Stuffed, we took a breath and carried on, sucking the tender meat off smoked cherry baby lamb chops. Finally, we stared down the duck borek, one of the restaurant’s most population dishes, and won. The 8-inch diameter pie that evokes a sausage round at the butcher shop, is formed by piping seasoned ground duck into layers of phyllo-like yufka dough. Baked until golden and crispy, chef tops the dish with cracked coriander and pistachio for a lemony-bright and nutty-sweet finish. The entire dish plays with texture, flavor, and fat, leaving me longing for a cool autumn night by the fireplace with a bottle of Bekaa Valley red.
Zou Zou’s is destination dining at its finest. Zou Zou’s is hotel dining at its finest. The experience was made all the sweeter knowing I could roll upstairs to my bed at Pendry Manhattan West and dream of my next visit to both.