It wasn’t long ago that this part of Manhattan was a soulless wasteland that was an area to be avoided, especially if you weren’t from New York. But things have changed. And drastically.

Hudson Yards has become a luxury destination in recent times, courtesy of $25 billion spent on developing the area, which includes skyscrapers, a seven-story high-end centric mall, a $500 million city-sponsored arts centre called ‘The Shed’ and a controversial $200 million sculpture staircase that leads to nowhere.

But forget all that right now. That’s not what you’re here for.

The rooftop pool at the Equinox Hotel.

The centrepiece of the Hudson Yards facelift is clearly the Equinox Hotel; the first hotel by the famous luxury fitness club and the 100th overall gym, which is now beyond 105 across the United States.

If you’re like me, then you might fit into the bracket of getting your business done in the gym and then making tracks, usually as fast as you can, often sweating in the car on the way home, rather than cooling down and chatting with trainers while chugging down a post-workout iso-whey protein shake. Get in, get out and on with your day. But that’s not how it’s done at Equinox. It’s almost as if you’re part of a club, although you don’t play at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon.

Now that club has made the natural progression to luxury hotels, which makes complete sense when you consider the clientele. People spending $500 per month on a gym membership are probably not struggling to make ends meet, and are looking for greater connection.

The hotel bar on the 24th floor.

On a trip to New York earlier this month we decided to finally check out what all the fuss is about. Why would a hotel that focuses on wellbeing rather than on all the finer things in life, which let’s be honest, are rarely in the best interest of your health, have so much buzz swirling around?

We were quickly sent up to the 25th floor upon entry, where we were greeted by exquisitely presented staff at reception, amid a lobby that looked like it was the scene of a Vogue or Travel and Leisure shoot. From there, we were whisked up to our room on the 31st floor, which immediately relived any weariness from the eight-hour commute from London.

It was here, inside the dimly lit, climate controlled, seemingly soundproof room, that we came to appreciate part of the luxury the Equinox Hotel offers. You come here for a respite from the chaotic pace of Manhattan, which despite the pandemic has clocked back into gear in the past few months.

Inside a bathroom at the Equinox Hotel.

Some come for a deep sleep that is almost a guarantee and don’t leave unimpressed. There is the coconut fibre, spring free mattress – yes, you read that correctly – two separate doonas or duvets, depending on where you’re from for enhanced temperature regulation, blackout shades that force you to start googling specialists to put some in at home and the temperature at a sleep optimised level. That’s how you take care of business.

If you don’t spring out of bed the next morning, you’ve either stumbled home late or there is something wrong with you. Feeling energised, start your morning on the fifth floor in the gym – a fair distance from the hotel, which means it is not in your face – and spend some time in the enormous spa.

Much like all 35 Equinox gyms dotted around New York City, the 60,000 square foot fitness monstrosity has everything you need and then some more, from weights to cardio and classes.

The Jaume Plensa sculpture at the Equinox Hotel.

And then there is the private spa on the floor above where one can recover from their workout in the infrared sauna or hook themselves up to an IV drip to replenish nutrients or spend a few minutes inside a cryotherapy chamber where the temperature reaches below -100C. Ever heard of a wave table? Don’t worry, neither had we. 30 minutes spent with headphones on will help you achieve deep restfulness, renewed energy, deep clarity and focus.

On the 24th floor, situated next to a chic hotel bar that is the perfect place to finish a night, sits Electric Lemon, a health-focused restaurant that doesn’t jam that mantra down your throat, instead it provides a delicious menu for any time of the day or night.

Step outside and you’ll find an 8,000 square foot terrace with a gigantic Jaume Plensa sculpture that will have the Instagram crowd snapping away. Unlike most places in the city, it doesn’t quite feel like you’re in Manhattan. And that’s the point.

If it sounds like we’ve joined a cult, we haven’t, but there is something special about this hotel, especially when you consider its location in west Manhattan, at the top of the highline.

Luxury was once all about being pampered and peppered with cocktails in the sunshine. Now it has pivoted to health and wellbeing. No one does it better than the Equinox Hotel.