Hustle, bustle, noise and chaos are a few of the elements that make New York a city like no other.
While finding luxury is also not too difficult in the Big Apple, tranquility is at a premium, which is why the Hotel Plaza Athenee, in the super-plush Upper East Side of Manhattan, has attracted celebrities and high-flying businessmen for many years.
The talk of the town when it first opened in 1927, the symmetrical tiered building then known as the Alrae Hotel and Apartments was a regal fixture of the area for many decades.
Today, the property can be clearly recognised by its signature red exterior awnings, large bronze logo inscripted on the sidewalk, French-inspired furnishings and impeccable cuisine, among other five-star traits.
Home to 143 guestrooms including 25 suites, Plaza Athenee has regally resided at 37 East 64th Street between Park and Madison Avenues since 1984.
It has become a home away from home to travellers, celebrities and titans of industry who appreciate its luxurious and discreet style, personal attention by the long-term staff and superb location in a residential block where most hotels fear to tread.
Celebrity residents over the years include Elizabeth Taylor, heads of state and the world’s leading tennis players come US Open time.
But the most famous has to be Princess Diana, who made room 1601 – the penthouse (naturally) – her suite of choice when she was in town.
This duplex suite has to be seen to be believed. Staircases are a rarity in NYC hotel rooms, but the suite which once accommodated the Princess of Wales has one that leads to a master bedroom with king-sized bed.
At 1,900 square feet, the suite occupies the 16th and 17th floor of the hotel and comes with fantastic views of the New York skyline.
The hotel has moved with the times since Lady Diana was on this earth and today’s residents enjoy a media room and 40-inch flat screen TV alongside a fully-equipped kitchenette with microwave, stove, refrigerator and Nespresso machine.
A marble master bathroom is just off the master bedroom and has dual sinks, a separate shower,
deep soaking tubs and Bvlgari bathroom amenities.
Such stunning suites, which contain kitchenettes and full kitchens and some with an atrium and balcony, are common throughout a hotel that prides itself on providing a personal, confidential service to guests.
The hotel’s Valmont Spa features massages, facials, body wraps, reflexology, manicures, pedicures and make-up application.
There is also a gym with views of the streetscene capable of inspiring even the most unfit runner to greater levels of accomplishment.
The Plaza Athenee has two restaurants that appeal to locals as well as residents.
Bar Seine is open for small plates, lunch, dinner and cocktails while the Arabelle offers breakfast and afternoon tea, with some describing it as New York’s ultimate power breakfast destination.
With a storied history as the Chateau Henry IV restaurant during its Alrae days, and again in the 1980s as Le Regence, the Arabelle Lounge today is equally captivating.
Gazing around the room, it is easy to be awestruck by the beautiful blue sky white clouds ceiling, richly paneled walls, Murano chandeliers, and hand-painted Chinoiserie accents.
Reminiscent of an aristocratic residence with a longstanding staff, Arabelle Lounge’s meals are served on delicate bone China and accompanied by silver serving dishes, to the delight of all who appreciate modern American cuisine.
The main room seats up to 100 guests, while just steps away lies a small adjacent fine dining room, with the same yellow panelled walls accented by mirrored alcoves and an eclectic mix of prints and original oil paintings. With seating for 20, this area can be completely enclosed for private functions.
The food served in the restaurant befits a five-star hotel, with delicious fillet mignon steak and lightly battered halibut among a number of top-notch dishes of the highest quality.
And last, but certainly not least, it has to be mentioned that the New York cheesecake is a must-have for a dessert.
New York has more than its fair share of hotels but the Plaza Athenee stands out for its quiet location and relatively small size, ensuring an unusually calm and intimate experience just minutes from the crazy chaos that so many love about this city.
Hotel Plaza Athenee,
37 E 64th St,
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