If you are an Australian traveling to New York City for the first time in a while, and are lucky enough to be in the historic and elegant Plaza Hotelyou have one of two options.
You can either close your eyes as you sink into the plush sheets of your king-size bed, or pretend to be the weather-beaten Mick “Crocodile” Dundee who inexplicably ended up in the same grand hotel in 1986, putting on a makeshift swag next to his mattress.
Last month I chose the high life.
More than a century since its opening, The Plaza Hotel remains one of New York City’s most luxurious residences.
For a first visit to NYC, or an old friend returning, the hotel’s prestigious Fifth Avenue address, on the southeast corner of Central Park, is magical.
You can’t beat being a stone’s throw from one of the most upscale shopping streets in the world or the iconic Pulitzer Fountain just across the road. And is there anything more New York than a stroll through idyllic Central Park?
Step inside for some more magic.
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First opened in 1907 at a cost of $12 million ($17.5 million), and quickly labeled “the finest hotel in the world,” The Plaza underwent a $450 million ($659 million) restoration in 2008.
The French Renaissance-inspired castle-style building has been New York’s most iconic hotel for over 100 years and has been a temporary home for kings, presidents, A-listers and socialites. It is also the setting for Kay Thompson‘s Eloise children’s book series, first published in 1955, about a little girl who lives on The Plaza. (A portrait of Eloise hangs in the lobby of The Plaza.)
It is also the setting of this iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe.
The actress was at a press conference at the hotel in February 1956, in front of 150 photographers and journalists. She was leaning forward, wearing a black velvet John Moore dress, when one of her shoulder straps broke. It made headlines across the country.
north-northwest by Alfred Hitchcock was filmed at The Plaza in 1959, the hotel’s first feature prominently in a movie. What followed was a deluge of films, including: The way we were† The frontside† Home alone 2 and Sleepless in Seattlemaking it New York’s most popular movie site in the year 2000.
Walking in The Plaza is quite spectacular. The Fifth Avenue foyer has gold trim, marble columns and a mosaic floor.
(Fun fact: The mosaic tiles in the residence’s lobby were hidden under wall-to-wall carpeting, but were not discovered until 1992 during the filming of Home alone 2. The carpet was removed to allow Macaulay Culkin to slide across the floor and into the elevator.)
A crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling, above the floral display.
It remains the only hotel in New York City to be named a National Historic Landmark.
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The Plaza offers 282 rooms, including 102 luxury suites, including unique rooms and suites such as the Eloise Suite – all pink and playfully decorated with all things Eloise (including a welcome letter from Eloise herself) by fashion designer Betsey Johnson.
I stayed in the luxury Carnegie Park Suite, with beautiful partial views of Central Park, a king size bed, spacious living room and powder room. It was astonishing†
A highlight was the bathroom, fitted with mosaic floors, 24-carat gold-plated fixtures and the most welcoming bath you’ve ever seen.
Inspired by the lush greenery of Central Park, The Palm Court continues to be the city’s iconic afternoon tea destination. It is a beautiful space – timeless, elegant and luxurious. The high ceilings and the stained glass dome are enchanting.
The Palm Court is open for breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and light meals. Dress smartly casually.
Afternoon tea includes sandwiches and savory snacks, as well as scones, pastries and sweets. The Manhattan Tea starts at $110 per person, while The Plaza Signature Tea, which comes with a glass of champagne, costs $124 per person. For the little ones there is also the Children’s Eloise Tea.
The Champagne Bar, overlooking Fifth Avenue and the Pulitzer Fountain, is open from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM for breakfast, coffee, cocktails and light gourmet fare – but only for hotel guests.
Despite Kevin’s cannonballs in Home alone 2there is no pool, but for wellness guests can visit the Guerlain Spa, Warren-Tricomi Salon and The Plaza Fitness Center.
The Plaza is one of those hotels that is so beautiful and full of incredible history, you’ll want to spend your entire trip indoors.
This writer was a guest at The Plaza Hotel†
New York icon reimagined in different architectural styles