On Site New York City: Ciao, Manhattan

Special to the web

The phone on the bedside table jangled me awake. I picked up the handset. "Buongiorno!" the recorded voice cheerily announced. Rubbing my eyes, I wondered for an instant where I was: Milan? Venice? Then a glance out the window set me straight. There stood the Empire State Building. I was in New York.

The Jolly Hotel Madison Towers, where I had spent the night, is a little corner of L’Italia in midtown Manhattan. From the Italian stations on the TV in my room to the copies of La Repubblicain the lobby to the stylishly dressed Europeans coming and going, I felt as though I’d been magically transported to the Eternal City.

Even the meeting space conforms to this theme. Recently renovated to include the latest technology, the five rooms are named for Italian artists and architects—Michelangelo, Raffaello, Bernini, Leonardo, and so on—and can accommodate up to 200 people. The executive boardroom, known as the Palladio, is the most striking, with its long marble table, black leather chairs, and 14 individual stations for laptop and Internet hookups.

If groups want a less formal setting, they might consider taking over the hotel’s restaurant, Cinqueterre, which seats up to 70 and features colorful Mediterranean frescoes, an impressive wine list, and excellent northern Italian cuisine; I especially enjoyed the wild mushroom soup, followed by the rack of lamb.

But mostly I enjoyed hanging out in my room, with its marble bathroom, contemporary minimalist design, and dramatic view of the Empire State Building. It’s the most iconic landmark in Manhattan, but I still felt un poco Italian as I left the hotel that morning, thanks to the Jolly’s staff. As I wheeled my suitcase through the revolving door, the doorman called out to me: “Ciao, Signora!”