24-Hour Room Service: The Plaza, New York

As New York icons go, The Plaza is on a par with yellow cabs, Woody Allen and the Statue of Liberty. And, like many of the glamorous ladies who lunch in the image-conscious city, it has undergone a facelift – costing $400m (£267m). The 101-year-old landmark was closed for extensive refurbishment by its new owners ElAd Properties in 2005 and reopened for business last March, with many of the main features opening gradually throughout last year.

The Plaza's grip on New Yorkers' affections isn't just down to the Beaux Arts splendour of its facade, however, or its location within a pretzel's throw of Central Park, but its rich cultural and celebrity history. One of the first scenes of Hitchcock's North by Northwest features Cary Grant being kidnapped from the hotel's plush Oak Bar. Truman Capote, meanwhile, hosted his legendary Black & White Ball in the Plaza's vast ballroom in 1966, and the hotel also provided the setting for the classic Eloise children's books about a girl who lives in a room on the hotel's "tippy top floor".

The hotel's painting of Eloise now hangs just outside the Palm Court, which has been beautifully restored, as has the Oak Room bar and the Grand Ballroom. However the more radical overhaul of the rest of the hotel has had a mixed reception. The decision to create 181 private residences was controversial, not least because the rooms with a park view were all subsumed in the revamp.

It feels as though the developers have tried to hedge their bets between old-world polish and modern glamour, and the result is a little ritzy in some places, particularly the new shopping plaza.

The decor in the corridors and rooms – replicas of Old Masters, gilt-edged furniture and cream carpets – although very smart, has an air of luxury by numbers. However, the plush surroundings of the Palm Court restaurant, complete with stained glass, domed ceiling and harp player, bestows the hotel's excellent breakfast – or high tea – with a sense of occasion.

Similarly, the calm atmosphere and natural light of the champagne bar, to the side of the lobby, makes it agreeable for a spot of discreet people-watching.

Alongside the new Caudalie spa and "retail collection" (otherwise known as a shopping area), one of the hotel's key boasts is of a "white-glove butler service", which I called upon only to have the room's Nasa-like "wireless tablet, controlling heat, light and entertainment" explained to me. This confusing system is enough to drive Luddites and technophiles alike into a rage that is only likely to be eased by a drink from the minibar.

LOCATION

The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York, US (001 212 759 3000; theplaza.com). As long as you don't mind other tourists or hanker after a more hip, downtown vibe, the Plaza enjoys a dream location across the road from the south end of Central Park, on the corner of Fifth Avenue. It's particularly handy for shopping, with Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany, Saks and Barneys all within five minutes' walk.

COMFORTABLE?

There are 282 rooms – including 102 suites – all huge by New York standards. My room consisted of a king-sized bed, writing desk and chair, armchairs and coffee table, and there was a good-sized en-suite bathroom with a bath and shower. The bed, with pristine sheets and pillows that melt into shape under a weary head, was very comfortable. The decor – used in the background of many fashion shoots – aimed for Louis XV grandeur, and achieved a fairly successful pastiche.

Freebies: Miller-Harris toiletries.

Keeping in touch: Every room has a direct-dial phone and expensive high-speed internet access ($14.95/£11 for 24 hours). Wi-Fi access is also available in the lobby, charged at the same rate.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Plaza Rooms start at $845 (£563) per night, room only.

I'm not paying that: Also at the foot of Central Park is the Art Deco Jumeirah Essex House (001 212 247 0300; jumeirahessexhouse.com), where doubles start at $320 (£213), room only.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own