The Plaza – New York’s Iconic Luxury Hotel
What can be said about The Plaza Hotel, arguably Manhattan’s most famous luxury hotel that has not been said before? A paramount landmark of New York City, The Plaza has been around since 1907, and has been the residence of choice for traveling kings, presidents, ambassadors, celebrities, and business executives for over a century. It has appeared in numerous movies, TV shows, and books and is listed on the Register of Historic Places. It is also the only New York City hotel to be designated a National Historic Landmark. It was once said, “Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza.” The Plaza is not only a place to stay when you visit the city; it is the place to see as well.
The Plaza has seen many ownership changes over the years and is currently co-owned by a Saudi Arabia based corporation. Canadian luxury hotel group Fairmont has managed the hotel since 1999. In addition to The Plaza, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts also owns or manages many landmark hotels around the world; among them The Savoy in London, Peace Hotel in Shanghai, and Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.
We were fortunate to stay at The Plaza for ten days for a birthday celebration (mine!). We have visited NYC numerous times before but never stayed at The Plaza. We were familiar with Fairmont-owned Hotels though, having stayed at many of their properties in Canada and the Caribbean over the years.
When we made our reservations on the phone, we were informed that despite my husband’s “Platinum” status of Fairmont Presidents Club (their loyalty program) – which supposedly entitled us to a complimentary night of stay – we could not redeem the offer at The Plaza. What a disappointment! Nonetheless we went ahead with our booking. After all, a lady’s birthday is the perfect excuse for a bit of an indulgence!
We stayed at an “Edwardian 5th Avenue Suite” – a spacious, 1,000 square foot one bedroom suite complete with a large bathroom, a powder room and a Butler’s pantry. Complimentary 24-hour Butler services are offered to Suite guests, for assistance with everything from unpacking and packing luggage to bath preparation. As expected, the suite is exquisitely furnished “in the richly decorative style of Louis XV” (in the hotel’s own words) – promptly reflecting a $450 million, three-year, lobby to roof restoration which has given new life to the historic building.
The luxury furnishing is tastefully done. Marbles, gold accents, and velvety fabrics interweave seamlessly to create a sumptuous yet soothing atmosphere, allowing guests to relax instantly upon entering the room. In fact, our son fell into sleep on the large king size bed while we were still settling in!
Our suite was very cozy and comfortable and a pleasure to stay at. The suite was very quiet and has all of the modern amenities one could ask for: high tech in-room control tablet, two large LCD TVs, and Wi-Fi. We admired the Beaux-Arts inspired decor of our Suite, and the spacious living and sleeping rooms, which are large by NYC standards. The luxuriously appointed bathroom, which features French doors, is very roomy and a joy to use and houses a huge, oversized bathtub (which we would soon discover took a long time to fill up due to its size). The bed was very comfortable and provided wonderful support to our tired bodies at night.
Our “Edwardian 5th Avenue Suite”, as its name suggests, has its windows facing towards Fifth Avenue. Thanks to a rather high 18th floor vantage point and relatively unobstructed view, we could see quite far from both our living room and bedroom. Right across 5th Avenue was the Apple Store; and further down on 57th Street was the Four Seasons Hotel, where we would dine for my birthday dinner at Joel Robuchon’s renowned “L’Atelier” restaurant (which, by the way, was excellent and super kid-friendly).
Simply put, there is no better address in NYC than The Plaza’s. Located at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South corner, you will not find a more convenient location for sightseeing, shopping, fine dining, watching a Broadway show, or exploring the endless attractions and activities offered in the city.
As a family traveling with a young kid, we found The Plaza’s central location hard to beat. Central Park is literally right around the corner, as are the Apple Store and the world famous FAO Schwarz Toys – all of which my son adored. The Plaza easily serves as a home base for exploring Lower and Upper Manhattan, not to mention Midtown, either on foot, by cab or public transit; or even horse-drawn carriage, which is readily available across the street. And with plenty of dining choices nearby, we didn’t have to worry about our son getting hungry.
One will never be short of dining options in NYC, let alone at The Plaza, which is located in the very heart of Manhattan. In addition to the hotel’s own restaurants which include the famous Oak Room, the nearby Ritz Carlton and St. Regis and their fabulous restaurants provide excellent dining alternatives. The district is also home to some of the world’s most esteemed chefs‘ restaurants. To name just a few: Thomas Keller’s Per Se (and his fantastic Bouchon Bakery, which my husband absolutely adored) at Time Warner Center, Alain Ducasse’s Benoit on 55th street, and Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier at Four Seasons Hotel are all within short walking distance. Of course there are plenty of other options catering to all budgets.
If you ever get tired of walking, the hotel’s Rolls Royce Phantom is always there for you to use. While we liked walking, we did take advantage of the service a few times during our stay. The chauffeur was always friendly and we enjoyed chatting with him on our way to the MOMA, The Lion King show, the Rockefeller Center; and many other locations – which were all within close proximity to The Plaza. At The Plaza – you are never far away from anything!
No stay at The Plaza would ever be considered complete without spending an afternoon at the Palm Court. To many, high tea at the Palm Court is an event and attraction in itself. It is a time-honored tradition, which has enticed generations of New Yorkers and travelers alike, immersing themselves in the Palm Court’s splendid surroundings for a quintessential Manhattan experience.
The Palm Court is located in the center of the lobby level and opens for afternoon tea from 2:00 – 5:00pm daily. A reservation is required. Its glamorous appearance, featuring luminous stained glass lay light, was made possible following a $6.5 million restoration. We had scheduled our reservation for 2:00pm, which was immediately after a full lunch at the nearby Robert restaurant at the Museum of Art and Design (2 Columbus Circle). So while the tea and pastries were all exceptional, our attention was directed rather towards the beautiful decor of the Palm Court itself.
The Palm Court is aesthetically faultless. The restoration has so aptly created a majestic environment for a place of such historical significance. The ambience and service were rather formal but courteous. Our server even offered to take a family photo, which we gladly accepted. Basking in the grandeur and glory of this timeless place, we enjoyed a nice and quiet afternoon tea at the Palm Court.
The Plaza Hospitality
We experienced consistent good service while staying at The Plaza Hotel. Check in was provided by a friendly gentleman at the front desk and was completed smoothly. The Concierge was always prompt and able to secure restaurant reservations for us with short notice. They were also always helpful in answering our inquiries. Butler service was also good. Our Butler helped us on several occasions and his services met our expectations. We also had a pleasant experience with the hotel’s Chauffeur who was always friendly to us and in particular to our little boy.
The hotel made us a little cake on our arrival date, which was accompanied by a personal, handwritten greeting card from the hotel’s manager. Though this is almost to be expected from a hotel of this caliber, a nice gesture is always appreciated.
The Plaza is not the most feature- rich hotel in the world, or the biggest and best in America but it offers way more than all that. The Plaza Hotel, with its incomparable heritage and illustrious history, has long transcended itself to become an integral part of the city, and its developments. The Plaza is a living legend and a destination to visit and experience in person. It has been featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby” as the backdrop in the climax scene. It was the place to stay for the Beatles on their US tour. It even has its own fictional character – a young lady called Eloise – who has become a legend in her own right. In light of its historical significance, hotel amenities and friendly staff, I am glad we spent my birthday at The Plaza.
The Plaza, A Fairmont Managed Hotel
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
New York, New York
TEL (212) 759-3000
FAX (212) 759-3001