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The Plaza Hotel
Chic architecture and extensive history
Central location off of New York City's Fifth Avenue
Smart TVs with Google Chromecast
HVAC, lights, and room service requests controlled by in-room iPad
Elegant on-site dining options
Versatile—great for families or a romantic stay
Electrical outlets on only one side of the bed
Carpeting and decor in rooms could use an update
Poor WiFi connectivity on the night we stayed, with WiFi throughout the hotel down for the entire evening
Rooms and meals are both pricey, with rates for non-suite rooms beginning at almost $1,000 per night
While certainly a splurge, a night at the Plaza is a quintessential New York experience.
New York City's Plaza Hotel is more than just a ritzy address in one of New York City's best locations—it's a true New York institution. One of New York's most beautiful and recognizable buildings, the hotel has been a major player in popular culture, ranging from its film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" to Kevin McCallister's hijinks-filled sleepover in "Home Alone 2." The Plaza's most famous literary resident, the mischievous six-year-old Eloise, captivated generations of readers as the titular character in the beloved "Eloise" book series, first published in 1955, even inspiring the hotel to create its own suite in homage to her.
Off the page and screen, though, the hotel stands alone as one of the ultimate global calling cards. It has been the quintessential New York hotel to see and be seen at for over 100 years, with royalty, movie stars, and rock 'n roll icons regularly checking in—the Beatles famously stayed here on their first ever visit to New York. In 1969, the hotel was granted status as a National Historic Landmark, making it the only New York City hotel with that distinction.
Your first impression of the Plaza certainly lives up to expectations. As soon as you stroll in through the Fifth Avenue entrance at Grand Army Plaza, you'll enter into what is known as the Fifth Avenue Lobby. Designed in a style evoking the French Renaissance, crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings, surrounded by elegant golds and whites that recall the châteaus of the Loire Valley. To the left of the check-in desk is the Champagne Bar, a dining space that was originally divided up into two sections: one half for full-time residents of the hotel (which comprised 90 percent of check-ins when the hotel first opened in 1908) and one half for transient hotel guests.
Courtesy of The Plaza Hotel
Just over the lobby, The Rose Club is a lush nook that used to be a showroom for the Studebaker car company, and later a nightclub called the Persian Room, which regularly hosted stars like Eartha Kitt.
Up two flights is the Grand Ballroom, which has hosted a number of famous weddings, including those of Eddie Murphy and former American President Donald Trump. The ballroom also served as the location of Truman Capote's infamous 1966 Black & White Ball, which was attended by guests such as Frank Sinatra and Andy Warhol. Directly below the Grand Ballroom is the hotel's Terrace Room, which was once a restaurant in the 1920s but now largely exists as a function room for events taking place in the ballroom above.
Through the south corridor, guests can visit The Shops, a largely new area of the Plaza, which features high-end boutiques such as luxury fragrance purveyor Krigler, Maurice Fine Jewelry, and of course, the Eloise Shop.
The Palm Court, where the hotel's famous tea service is served, sits just in front of the lobby, under a stained glass lay light ceiling. To its left, through double doors, is the hotel's Edwardian Room, which features panorama views of Central Park and Fifth Avenue. This corner of the Plaza—the northeastern corner—was traditionally where the hotel's most expensive rooms were located. Famous residents of the northeastern corner include architects Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived on the third floor, and Solomon R. Guggenheim.
The Oak Room was inspired by the grand salons of German transatlantic ships; its German influence is made even more clear by the room's murals, all of which depict mythical Rhineland castles. The room served as one of New York City's last all-male restaurants, restricting women from entering until as late as 1969, when feminist activist Betty Friedan staged a famous sit-in in protest. Attached to the Oak Room is the Oak Bar, fitted with an enormous bar made entirely out of wood.
The on-suite Guerlain Spa is situated on the fourth floor and offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments that feature products from the famous French perfumary.
Along 58th Street, there are 282 hotel rooms and suites, and along Central Park, there are more than 150 residences. Because of the hotel's multiple renovations, no two floors are the same, and the rooms vary in size. Several of the Plaza's suites, such as the Terrace Suite, boast outdoor terraces overlooking Fifth Avenue. The Royal Suite, which has been named one of the top ten suites in the world, boasts three bedrooms and over 4,500 square feet of space. The Tower Room features a dramatic 23 foot exposed brick ceiling. And two of the hotel's themed rooms, the aforementioned Eloise Suite and the "Great Gatsby"-themed Fitzgerald Suite, continue to maintain massive popularity with guests.
I stayed in the Carnegie Park Suite, with partial views of Central Park that I was able to gaze at while working from the room's desk. The 1,000-square-foot room featured a living area with wood-paneled closets and gilded floral motifs as well as a wet bar with complimentary glass bottles of Evian water and Plaza-branded plastic water bottles. The room's television featured menus from the Palm Court below, and an iPad served as the control for air conditioning, lights, and room service requests. Internet was spotty during my stay, so I ended up just using the phone. The bed was extremely soft and comfortable, and pocket doors between the living area and the bedroom allowed me to separate the two spaces.
The room's bathroom is definitely a showstopper. The size of a New York City one-bedroom apartment, it boasts gold mosaic tiling on its floors and ceilings with even its sinks plated in 24-carat gold. It also features stylish fixtures by designer Sherle Wagner and luscious bath products from Guerlain, the official brand of the hotel's spa. The shower and toilet are separated into two standalone rooms for extra privacy, and there are hooks just above the tub to hang the (very fluffy) hotel robes.
Most visitors associate the Plaza with their world-famous afternoon tea service at the Palm Court, considered to be an iconic New York experience. During my stay, I ordered the Grand Imperial Tea, which included caviar, Veuve Clicquot champagne, an assortment of finger sandwiches ranging from lobster on brioche to cucumber on rye, freshly baked scones with cream and preserves, a tray of pastries and sweets, and, of course, tea of my choice. The service was impeccable, with the waitstaff checking in on me, helping me choose my tea from a long (and intimidating) list, and making sure that my glass of champagne was consistently topped off. Would I normally pay $575 for an afternoon tea for two? Probably not. But the experience felt special, and if I had friends or family visiting the city for a celebration or special occasion, it would absolutely be worth the splurge. In the evenings, the Palm Court transforms into a cocktail bar, where snacks and appetizers are available until midnight.
Room service at the hotel is also available. During my stay, which happened to coincide with a rainy New York evening, I opted to go full "Home Alone 2" and order two personal pizzas up to my room. While the pizza was tasty, I certainly could have walked over to any dollar slice shop and had a much more satisfying slice for less than the whopping $84 bill. Overall, though, I enjoyed the experience of staying in on a showery evening and enjoying the pizza in my room.
The hotel charges a $60 destination fee per night, which includes a $50 daily food and beverage credit valid in The Palm Court, The Champagne Bar, or in-room dining.
Pets are allowed for a $250 fee, and the hotel accepts dogs of all sizes.
The Plaza combines history, elegance, and comfort at one of the world's best addresses. If you're looking for a central location and a true New York City experience, splurging for afternoon tea and an evening here is worth it.
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