For exclusive offers and advance notice of my favorite discoveries and latest adventures!
Whether it's taking a daily ritual from expected to extraordinary or discovering the wonderment and beauty of anew travel destination, J.R. McCabe elevates the everyday with timeless taste and comfortable confidence.
In early October 2020, after five months of hunkering down studying for — and just days after completing — the New York State Bar Exam, I was in need of a respite. More than that actually. I was in need of a complete and whole getaway. One that was worthy of the occasion of my accomplishment while I stayed mindful of the challenges of the current travel climate. I decided that a staycation at The Lowell was the answer. I booked three days to tuck myself in and just be — in quiet luxury and romantic beauty. What I found at The Lowell was more than I imagined. What I found at The Lowell was a home away from home that I will cherish and rediscover forevermore.
At its core The Lowell feels more like a dream residence than a world class hotel, which makes for an extraordinary guest experience from the start. Built in 1927, The Lowell is a stroll from Central Park, around the corner from the finest clothing stores and restaurants in Manhattan, and tucked between Park and Madison Avenues on a charming tree-lined street. As soon as the dewy floral fragrance of a burning candle meets your nose inside the doors, your nervous system begins to relax and arrive in a state of ease.
I settled into my suite on a Thursday evening and had the sense that I was arriving home after a long trip away. As I peeked into the mini kitchen to survey the stock, and then went on to my bedroom to change, the porter took care of the fire. The Lowell is the only hotel in New York City with working wood-burning fireplaces — a rare luxury that makes a stay there even more magical. The staff at The Lowell kept my fireplace going, and wood basket fully stocked, for the entire length of my stay without the slightest interruption. A word about the staff — from the Director of Hotel Operations, Eric Dupaix, to Marie at the Front Desk, to the porters Pierre and Tony, and the lovely ladies of housekeeping — each individual speaks to you and treats you as if they have tended to your needs, desires, and cares for years. There is a sense not just of impeccable professionalism but a polite and intimate formality that is reminiscent of a bygone era.
Within an hour of my arrival a complimentary bottle of champagne arrives with a sweet celebratory note of congratulations on finishing law school and the bar. I tuck the bottle away in the kitchen for another evening, because tonight I already have everything I need — the calm of luxurious solitude, the crackle of the fire, and the crunch of perfect popcorn.
Early the next morning the sun tickles its way into my suite with a gentle softness calling me to rise. As I hop out of bed and my bare feet met the fluffy wool carpet I forget for a fleeting moment that this isn’t actually my apartment. The intimacy of every object in the suite evokes a sense of home. From the choice of clothing bureau in the bedroom, to the selection of artistic, literary, and historical titles on the main room bookshelf, to the kettle in the petite kitchen and unique, international snacks, to the heavenly bed linens, sofa pillows and throws, to the breathtaking white roses — every sensory detail is accounted for and delivered with perfection.
So in these early hours the only thing that would make my morning even finer is a cappuccino and breakfast from my favorite Italian restaurant and coffee bar, Sant Ambroeus. Not to worry, with a quick call downstairs a member of The Lowell staff is already out the door and headed to their closest location just two blocks away. Twenty minutes later the porter is at my door with a smile and my order in hand and gets to tending to the embers from last night straight away.
I spend the morning floating in my newfound freedom, reviewing long neglected writing projects, listening to the soothing cadence of Yves Montand and Edith Piaf, and stepping out to the terrace to take my place in the portrait of the Upper East Side neutral skyline in gratitude for this amazing city I’ve called home for more than two decades.
As a five star hotel, with its own celebrated restaurant Majorelle, there is not much of a need to leave your suite, especially if you’re in the mood as I was to hibernate in your own secret sanctuary for a few days. As mentioned, the staff will happily pick up gourmet delights from local favorites like Sant Ambroeus and Le Bilboquet, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and deliver them to you on the couch, complete with a silver tray, fine dinner and flatware, and chilled champagne of course.
Over the next couple of days I found myself in a gorgeous rhythm of elegant old world living. With the pressures of law school and the bar behind me I slipped into an island of time that was mine and mine alone. Perusing old books and reading for hours, journaling, cultivating ideas and goals, and enjoying moments of stillness with my tea by the fire.
To say that I enjoyed my stay at The Lowell would be an understatement. Staying at The Lowell is like living in a dream. Waking up in an impeccably designed pied-à-terre, where every desire is tended to with the generous care of a spirited staff, and inspiration and whimsy dance in the air. The sweetest comforts of home wrapped in smart cosmopolitan adventure. Alas, I count the months until my next stay with sweet anticipation and a longing heart. ✨