1 Hotel Central Park – A Sustainable Sanctuary in New York City

1 Hotel Central Park is a vanguard of eco-savvy luxury in central Manhattan. Here, environmentalism and opulence unite in a haven of biophilic design inspired by the beauty of nature. Balance is at its core as rest and adventure, nature and urbanity, and well-being and indulgence converge. At 1 Hotel, luxury isn’t just about extravagance; it’s about health and respite, too. 

You don’t often find ‘sustainable’ and ‘New York City’ in the same sentence. Among the hundreds of glowing adjectives I could use to describe the heaving metropolis, some less charitable options could be gritty and overwhelming. It’s scarce and welcomed to find an oasis away from the commotion, especially one that brings nature to the forefront. In fact, no matter where you are in the world, luxury hotels that are genuinely committed to responsible practices are hard to come by. Enter: 1 Hotel Central Park, a beacon of environmental stewardship in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. American magnate Barry Sternlicht debuted the property in 2015, wanting to curate a mission-driven luxury lifestyle hotel brand with an emphasis on sustainability, and it has since become a go-to destination for the eco-conscious traveller.

Location and Ambiance

A flora-enveloped pillar amidst the bustling cityscape, 1 Hotel stands out against its urban backdrop. After stepping through the front doors (made from 1,600 reclaimed locust branches woven by Queen’s artist Charlie Baker), there’s no sleek, expansive foyer typical of a premium hotel. Instead, the lobby mirrors the earthy tone and economical use of space seen throughout the hotel. The staff who greet you are friendly but casual. You might find this either refreshing or disarming, depending on whether you enjoy the ceremonious service of many upscale hotels. Naturally, the decor is wood-heavy, making it feel like you’re in New York’s trendiest treehouse with antique barn wood flooring and a reclaimed oak ceiling. The informality of the staff, coupled with the size of the space and organically inspired design, creates a relaxed and lively atmosphere. 

A stone’s throw from the iconic Central Park, you’re in a prime location and an ideal starting point for exploring the charms of midtown, including The Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall and the shops on Fifth Avenue. Overall, there’s a buzz in the vibrant communal areas of the hotel that echo the excitement and pace of the city, further establishing the private rooms as peaceful hideaways.


You can choose from 234 guest rooms and suites, with 22 different options ranging from the 209-square-foot Queen Alcove Room to the palatial 1455-square-foot Two-Bedroom Elm House Suite. The City Lounge King room, where I stayed, is ideal for a solo stay or travelling in a couple. The room extends over the city streets with a window-nook daybed, offering views of the Manhattan skyline. Sustainably sourced bedding, recycled materials, and in-room greenery, create a sanctuary that brings the outside world in. When sunlight pours in through the windows, the reclaimed wood from local water towers, painted brick walls, and accents of blackened steel and copper light up, making the space feel homespun and authentically New York.

The focus on wellness and responsible practices extends to all finishing touches; the in-room offerings from the “Goodthings Minibar” are health-focused and 30% locally sourced. The bath amenities, infused with the brand’s signature blend of geranium, lavender, peppermint, and tonka, are in collaboration with Certified B Corporation, Bamford. Merging the urban soul of New York with a serene, natural aesthetic, every detail is designed to provide a rejuvenating retreat. 

I’d be remiss not to mention the jewel in the crown of the establishment: the Park Penthouse. Unveiled in 2023 and soaring 19 floors above the New York cityscape, it was designed as a one-of-a-kind experience that marries grandeur with the natural world. Nuanced touches showcase sustainable craftsmanship and support local artisans, while more than 3,000 thriving plants live within the indoor/outdoor space. The botanically-inspired haven has three expansive suites, two guest rooms and an outdoor terrace spanning 2,871 square feet with 1,201 square feet of outdoor space. For those wishing to significantly dial up the luxury, this is where to do it. 

Sustainable Luxury

The ethos of 1 Hotel is infused with nature, as is the very fabric of the building. A staggering 36,000 ivy plants adorn its exterior, each living in a recycled pot and producing oxygen, absorbing greenhouse gasses, reducing the surface temperature of the building in the summer, and insulating it in the winter. Inside, there are 5,000 living plants intentionally situated to remind you of the feeling of being

in Central Park. The hotel’s LEED Silver Certification is a testament to its commitment to the environment, underscored by its energy-efficient systems.

The team clearly has sustainability at the forefront of their minds, and they encourage guests to follow suit. To remind guests to be mindful of water usage, five-minute hourglass timers are installed in the showers. The wood for the timers is again reclaimed from water towers and affixed to a salvaged Bald Cypress (it’s a type of tree, I had to Google it) plinth from the Florida Wetlands. According to 1 Hotel,  these shower timers can save as much as 34 litres per shower for the average guest. Throughout the room and hotel, there are prompts to keep the planet in mind, a valuable nudge while lodging in such a city of excess. 

Food and Drink

The hotel’s philosophy extends to its culinary offerings. Led by restauranteur icon Chef Jonathan Waxman, the on-site restaurant, Jams, offers a menu that highlights locally sourced ingredients from neighbouring farms and purveyors. Relocating from California to New York in the early 1980s, Waxman originally established Jams Restaurant on East 79th Street in 1984. He brought with him a passion for fresh, local ingredients and a relaxed, Californian approach to the formal New York culinary world, and these sensibilities are still clear in the revived Jams

The space itself is rustic and laid-back, seemingly stripped-back in comparison to the original Jams. Stone and wood finishings provide an inviting ambience, and, of course, 1 Hotel’s signature greenery hangs from the walls and ceiling. A combination of tables and bar seating, as well as an open kitchen, adds to its casual vibe. Staff are warm, knowledgeable and eager to share the stories behind the dishes and the practices that define the restaurant. 

Dishes at Jams are characterised by inventive sides and a careful blend of natural flavours. They celebrate the ingredients’ inherent qualities and farm-to-table freshness, with some of the richer dishes approaching elevated comfort food. The wide selection of shared plates encourages an unwound, communal dining experience. To round off the experience, there’s an impressive wine list, informed by the late Melvyn Master, esteemed sommelier, Waxman’s former partner and the “m’ in Jams (standing for Jonathan and Melvyn).

Wellness and Recreation

It will come as no surprise that holistic health and wellness are key tenets of 1 Hotel’s values. A quick, healthy snack is always within reach at 1 Hotel Central Park. The lobby farmstand is stocked with free fresh produce from local farmers and suppliers if you want to grab a bite on the go. Complimentary wellness classes such as yoga and high-intensity interval training are offered to guests, and there are yoga mats in each room for those who prefer to practise in private. 

The more unique wellness options are at-home wellness tools provided in partnership with HigherDose. These premium in-room offerings include a Sauna Blanket, which is intended to,  “increase the body’s thermal energy, enhance relaxation and promote glowing skin”, and a PEMF Mat, which “grounds you in earth’s magnetic field for a full-body reset, while Infrared’s deeply penetrating heat doubles your DOSE”. I opted to try the HigherDose PEMF Mat, intrigued by its claims to ease chronic pain, recover from workouts and deepen meditations. After rolling the mat out onto the bed and plugging it in, I laid down on the textured acupressure surface. There are levels from 1 to 4, each of which is supposed to mimic healing frequencies found in nature and temperature settings as the mat heats up to your desired warmth. I can only base my assertions on a few hours of use, but PEMF (standing for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy), was certainly a relaxing and rejuvenating way to start the day.

Final Thoughts

1 Hotel Central Park is an innovative model of how luxury and sustainability can coexist. It provides an enriching stay for eco-friendly travellers, capturing the vibrant energy of New York City with a strategic balance of nature and modernity. I especially recommend this location to those who are seeking a refined stay but who struggle to fully lean into the (occasionally ostentatious) decadence of other luxury hotels. From its ivy-clad facade to its tranquil accommodations, 1 Hotel is a pioneering, mission-driven lifestyle hotel that impresses without being overbearing.

This property is included in our guide to the best hotels in New York

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