Was the ‘Dream Hotel’ a dreamy NYC experience?

Even though this was my 5th visit to New York City, a stay in town is always a complete pleasure and I realise for many people it is still simply a “dream” to be able to visit. Feeling like I had the whole of NYC to choose from I chose the Dream Hotel just off Broadway on W 55th Street due to its proximity to Central Park (just 4 streets away), Times Square (8 streets away) and its Midtown location (which I generally know better than any other part of Manhattan). So was it a dream experience?

The view of the Dream Hotel on 55th Street

The view of the Dream Hotel on 55th Street

The hotel doesn’t have a sweeping, set-back entrance so its frontage is up against the sidewalk but once through the front doors you are welcomed into a dark, marble-floored reception area along with a stylish floor to ceiling aquarium.

The Dream Hotel frontage

The Dream Hotel frontage

The aquarium in the Dream Hotel foyer

The aquarium in the Dream Hotel foyer

The hotel also doubles as a hotspot for the ‘PHD Terrace bar’ located on the top floor and in the evening one of the three lifts serves as an express lift straight up to it. It was nice to know as a guest it was my “local” bar and the party had come to me without me having to go to the party. Arriving late on the Saturday night there was a small queue of beautiful looking people queuing up in the right-hand side reception of the foyer patiently waiting their turn to visit the roof. In the summer months it’s fully exposed but as it was March temporary plastic covers draped down from the roof to keep away any chills. Only the next day for a quick post work drink did I have a proper look around over a bottle of Samuel Adams Boston lager and it certainly ticked the cool NYC rooftop bar tickbox.

Enjoying a Samuel Adams beer in the PHD roof terrace bar

Enjoying a Samuel Adams beer in the PHD roof terrace bar

Attached to the side of the hotel is the ‘Serafina’ restaurant and on the opposite side ‘The Rickey Bar’, dimly lit in the late afternoon slot when I visited so presumably even darker at night time.

I appreciate carpeted bedrooms and hallways as they tend to feel more homely and the Dream Hotel didn’t let me down. The room was small but perfectly formed with an opulent bathroom off towards the foot of the bed. The view out of my window was of … another hotel’s window but the cosy, dark feel of the bedroom’s décor didn’t warrant the need for me wanting to open the curtains anyway.

my-dream-hotel-bedroom

My cosy Dream Hotel bedroom

 

My tastefully decorated Dream Hotel bathroom

My tastefully decorated Dream Hotel bathroom

So dreamy? Location wise you’re located right in the centre of the action. No distance at all to the Broadway theatres, and an equal stone’s throw to both Times Square and Central Park. For those who love Midtown or are visiting NYC for the first time and want a luxurious bolthole to explore the sights by day, and to have a cosy, romantic setting on your return, then the Dream Hotel is just for you. For those who love to lounge in a cavernous, brightly-lit reception allowing you to people watch, read the newspapers and watch the world go by then this place probably isn’t your cup of cafwee. Have a nice day! 🙂

Where’s the hottest recorded place on Earth?

And that’s the “hottest” place recorded according to the ‘WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes’ … so let’s get the confusion out of the way to start with!

The hottest official recorded temperature is now credited to ‘Death Valley’ in the USA and not ‘Tripoli in Libya’. More specifically ‘Greenland Ranch, near Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California’ which hit 56.7°C (134°F) on July 13, 1913 and not the 58°C (136.4°F) that was recorded at ‘El Azizia (approximately 40 km south-southwest of Tripoli) Libya’ on 13 September 1922.

Check out the World Meteorological Organization for more “techie” information.

So when our tour guide Alex had mentioned where we were heading that day – the “hottest place in the world … Death Valley” I too recounted my GCSE geography lessons that taught me that it was actually somewhere in Libya that held that title! We were too remote for our bus’s Wi-Fi to connect to Wikipedia so it was only once we’d been handed copies of the local ‘Death Valley National Park Visitor Guide’ we could understand why the record had been changed.

Greenland Ranch weather station in about 1921

The oldest known picture of the Greenland Ranch weather station at in Death Valley taken at the latest in 1921. Image Credit: American Meteorological Society

So why the contention? Well in February 2011, a WMO Commission of Climatology (CCl) special international panel of meteorological experts began conducting an investigation into the Libyan record and identified five major concerns with it:

  1. Potential problems with the type of thermometer which had been used
  2. The record temperature was taken by a potentially inexperienced observer just two days into his new role
  3. Unlikely conditions for such high temperatures at the observation site (it was on a hill and near the coast)
  4. Poor correspondence to other weather stations nearby
  5. No subsequently high temperature values ever recorded at the site.

They therefore concluded in January 2012 that Death Valley now had the record and invalidated the 90-year-old Libyan record for the world’s highest temperature.

The old Greenland Ranch weather station is no more but the original location lies on the eastern side of the road opposite the Furnace Creek Resort if you ever wanted to try to find the exact location yourself! Although it too was repositioned 2 or 3 times over the years due to measuring improvements and highway building and nobody at the visitor centre knew its exact original location either!

Furnace Creek Resort sign

The sign at Furnace Creek Resort. Image Credit: http://oldboystoys.com

The current weather station is at the Furnace Creek Visitor Centre 700-800m up the road and moved there on April 1st 1961 but I’m guessing it would have been about 136.4°F degrees here too – and you never know – maybe even hotter! In fact on June 30th 2013 it reached 129°F degrees (54 °C) but that’s as close as it’s ever got to the 1913 record!

The Furnace Creek weather station today

The Furnace Creek weather station today

But why so warm there? Death Valley lies at 36°N so even at the height of summer it never has the sun directly overhead (23.5°N). However it’s the depth and shape that instead influences its high summer temperatures. The valley itself is 86m below sea level and is walled by steep mountain ranges. Sunlight is allowed to heat the sparsely covered desert surface and the radiated heat becomes trapped within the valley. Even the pockets of sinking, recycled air are only marginally cooler than the surrounding hot air. As they descend they are compressed and heated up even more by the low elevation air pressure.

So that’s the geography lesson over and one with, and either way when we were there it was a mere 40°C (104°F) according to the digital thermometer at the visitor centre but that was plenty warm enough for me! 🙂

Death Valley temperatures throughout the year

Death Valley temperatures throughout the year – with the June maximum entry now being 1°C higher