Time to get out of my tennis gear and find a smart frock. Why? I’m off to stay at one of New York’s most exclusive haunts, the New York Athletic Club (NYAC). And guess what? Despite NYAC’s self-proclamation as the world’s greatest athletics club, if you want to come in through the front door you’d better be smart, without your runners on!
The NYAC is a private social and athletic club in Manhattan. It was founded in 1868. Membership of its 8,600 members of men and women is by invitation only. One of the many perks is that it opens the doors to a worldwide network of reciprocal clubs.
Oh, the joy of joys this Little Wandering Wren scores a stay via my own overseas reciprocal membership rights from my Bangkok Sports Club. This literally opens the doors to a world and a marvelous New York stay, which would be impossible for me to access otherwise.
NYAC boasts world-class teams in wrestling, rowing, water polo, track and field, and judo, amongst others. Club members have won more than 270 Olympic medals over the years.
There is not much that would drag me away from my two weeks of attending the 2022 US Open Tennis. However, I was happy to swap my room in Queens for a night and to walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest athletes in history. Well, why not?
Table of Contents
AMBIANCE & GREETING 8/10
I stayed at NYAC on the Labor Day holiday weekend, and surprisingly even with the residential side of the club booked out, most recreational and sports activities were closed. Even the swimming pool was off-limits whilst under renovation. There was I, thinking I was going to have a massively sporting weekend!
Note to self, remember Labor Day weekend is a big holiday here in the US, even for world champions…
Entry at NYAC means you’d better have the right credentials otherwise you won’t even get a ride through the impressive whirly, brass revolving doors.
Once they have assessed you as legit, you will be welcomed with all the formal pleasantries and ‘Ma’am’ greetings as if they have royalty arriving. If you are anything like me, this will have you looking over your shoulder to see if they are talking to someone else!
It is all so strikingly American. I could almost be forgiven for thinking I have wandered into a part of the White House. It’s discretely, no let’s say it’s dimly lit, which gives the impression of it being perfect for clandestine meetings. Oh if only the walls could speak, or the staff was available to tell me what is going on here. I would so love a history tour…
Two massive flags, a large red rug, and huge leather sofas impress with names and names written on the walls behind. For me, a Brit in the Big Apple, this is American perfection.
Cloakrooms and Communications Rooms
I arrive early as I’m off to meet a fellow blogger for Brunch. ‘Ma’am’ is invited to leave her overnight bag in the cloakroom and to enjoy a coffee and a newspaper in the Communications Room. The Comms room is one of the few places where phones and computers can be used within the building and is an impressive business center. It is still showing signs of the Covid era, requesting members to wear masks.
Carol, my Blogger friend and a long-time New Yorker arrives and is impressed. That is, once I answer her Facebook notification that she has arrived and confirmed that I’ll be straight out. Only then does she feel confident enough to sit on a sofa, under the steely gaze of the doorman, keen to vailidate her as permitted to enter! There is also a club policy about the use of mobile phones in public areas, we are happy that we were only texting!
I return at 4 pm having had a wonderful time wandering the local area. It’s early days but I’m already impressed with the shopping and museums within walking distance.
My room is ready and I’m given a key, collect my bags and set off exploring. I would have loved a tour of the Club, but as I mentioned this is a holiday weekend, and short of staff, there is no one available to show me around.
Renovated Queen GUEST ROOM9/10
Walking into room 1616 is a silent fist-pump moment. I like it. The styling is classically simple, not at all ostentatious but with a relaxing vibe. They talk about it being a ‘home away from home” experience and they’ve nailed it.
My tip is to book early and ask for a newly renovated room, preferably facing Central Park.
Compared with previous New York stays the room is spacious. From my window, I have an outlook onto midtown Manhattan with a glimpse of Central Park.
A chest of drawers with an ice bucket on top makes me smile! It is absolutely the sort of place where I wish I had a bottle of Champagne on ice, whilst getting ready for a night out. In the corner of the room is a large walk-in robe and iron and ironing board for all the proper attire you will need to bring with you!
There is a desk with a Keurig coffee maker. You won’t find a kettle (yes of course I asked, I’m a Brit) but you’ll find a tea capsule. This wouldn’t fly in the UK as a proper cuppa, but we’ll forgive them here in the US. The wifi is excellent, another big tick.
The bathroom is basic but adequate. The toilet, wash basin and simple shower are all enhanced by the Moulton Brown toiletries.
A stroll around the ornate 24-story club walking on the plush carpets, under huge chandeliers, and past the winged foot statue and glass front closets stacked full of silver cups and trophies will surely impress.
I find plenty of rooms set up for different activities from chess to backgammon to bridge and pool and snooker tables.
Any one for a game of chess?
Is there a better location in all of New York City? I loved it here. With Central Park across the road, I enjoyed a cycle ride around its vast city lungs the following morning.
Walking is one of the best ways to navigate the city with a wander down the nearby 5th Avenue, a wonderful way to enjoy some shopping.
The staff are discrete. They are not trained with the out-there, whoop, whoop ‘Welcome to America’ style that I’ve received at some US hotel check-ins. However other than the Reception and Concierge staff, there was not much opportunity to meet other staff members on a holiday weekend. Apart from one doorman who had the job of informing me that I’d broken club rules by coming down to bike in Central Park in my gym clothes in the non-athletic lift!
On my return, I ask why an Athletic Club insists on making those in athletics clothes use a special lift and exit out the back door. It’s a silly question because I know the answer will be heritage and tradition, maintaining standards, or something along these lines!
I have to say all my questions were handled really politely.
Given the holiday closures, I have not rated this area of the Club. However, an internal wander within the club offers a little peep into this important part of this sports club. Its athletics facilities are beyond compare.
The impressive gym offers state-of-the-art bikes and treadmills, with all manner of cardio and weight training equipment. The area I loved the most was the indoor running track around a mezzanine floor above a full-sized basketball court.
Fitness and Wellbeing
Offering everything from Personal Training sessions to thirteen different types of Group Fitness classes usually on offer from Spin indoor cycling, stretch, five different types of yoga flow, and Pilates.
Note: The pool was under renovation at this time!
Apparently, swimming pools are few and far between in NYC. Even whilst closed for the renovation you could see this was an attractive, good-sized pool where you could normally enjoy the use of the jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room.
There are two Boxing Rings open 6 am – 9 pm on Monday – Friday. You can also participate in Boxing Fitness classes.
Fencing and Wrestling
I never found the Fencing and Wrestling room as it is located in the basement, but they tell me again that their top-ranked instructors ensure that participants of all ages and abilities acquire the essential skills.
Squash & Racquetball
The beauty of this area is that it offers everyone from newbie novices to nationally ranked the chance to play, socialise and improve.
Judo & Handball
NYAC prides itself as the bastion of handball which dates back through the generations. Judo is another sport where you can be a novice or a blackbelt.
There is a whole area dedicated to NYAC club champions over the years, which is worth taking a look at.
FOOD & DRINK N/A
There was no food available except a ‘Grab and Go’ cafe open until 2 pm (check-in is at 3 pm) But hey, you’re in the city that never sleeps, this ain’t no big tragedy!
I did take a wander to see the closed dining rooms. They have a reputation for fine dining and I can certainly report they have a fine dining room with a fabulous outlook over Central Park.
I used the Grab and Go cafe which overlooks the swimming pool for breakfast. It had a good selection of pastries, croissants, and drinks.
NYAC Rooftop Bar View of Central Park
Rooftop Bar view NYAC
You won’t get a better view of Central Park in all of New York!
We met quite a few other residents taking photos and were pleased to have captured some of their perfect jump photos. Meanwhile hard as Carol and I tried we realised our athletic skills were not quite at the World Champion levels of some of the other guests!
You can find us in action here on TikTok, oh we did have fun!
Thank you Carol for showing me your corner of the world, I in return was happy to show you a view of Central Park you had not seen before.
More of Carol’s life in New York and beyond can be found here at Buttercup Counts her Blessings
VALUE FOR MONEY 9/10
A night here including coffee & a yoghurt for breakfast at the Grab & Go cafe was just over $200 USD, a fabulous price for this part of New York.
However, do note this does not take into account the cost of Club membership which involves joining fees and monthly fees.
I decided not to rate this stay overall as I had not been able to see the Club fully operational due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. But suffice to say I can’t wait to head back here and see the club when things are in full swing!
New York Athletic Club
Beware of the Dress Code! Athletic attire may only be worn in athletic areas of the building.
Gentlemen – Jackets are optional in most areas. Slacks, a collared shirt and dress shoes. Shirts must be tucked in.
Ladies – Business suits, tailored pant or skirt ensembles, and dresses. Spandex, open midriffs, halter tops, leggings, denim and extremely short hemlines (more than 3” above the knee, as a guideline) are not permitted.
Main Dining Room / Cocktail Lounge – Gentlemen must wear a jacket and collared shirt. Ties are optional.
The following are never appropriate – Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers and flip-flops are prohibited.
However do not fret if you come a tad under prepared for NYAC, Fifth Avenue is just around the corner with it’s shopping galore opportunities!
Saks Fifth Avenue is just around the corner
The New York Athletic Club and two facilities: the City House, located at 180 Central Park South in Manhattan; and Travers Island in Westchester County. Membership in the club is by invitation only.
I thoroughly enjoyed the location, the room, and the great value of my stay. As I love history I am sure there is so much more to share had someone been available to give me a tour of the facilities. It would be fabulous to return when the restaurant is open and when I can join in some of the fitness classes. to go for an indoor run on their running track or to have a Manhatten cocktail at their rooftop bar.
Thank you so much for joining me for a wander with me here at the most celebrated Athletics Club in the USA. . It was an absolute privilege to have had this opportunity to be staying at the New York Athletic Club (NYAC), whilst in New York.
New YorkNew York Athletics Club