Few hotels embody luxury and style as effortlessly as this East Side institution, which evokes a first-class experience of pre-war Art Deco elegance that is cozy and classy, with minimal pretension.
Since the 1940s, the Carlyle has been a preferred spot for dignitaries, celebrities and politicians. President John F. Kennedy slept there (or rather, didn’t, with Marilyn Monroe), as did Sinatra, Princess Diana and Broadway legend Elaine Stritch. Part of the attraction is location: tucked away on East 76th and Madison Avenue, far from the chaos of midtown Manhattan.
Most of the rooms are decorated in a tasteful Louis XIV style, but if you are lucky (i.e., rich) enough to score a deluxe tower room (around $1,300 a night), you will be treated to romantic views of Central Park, plus a small but handy kitchenette. Repeat guests and those who rent suites and above will be surprised by monogrammed pillows. The overall vibe, whatever your price point: the cool midcentury elegance of Mad Men.
For a formal but relaxed dining experience, you could try the Carlyle Restaurant downstairs. If you like cabaret, the world-class Café Carlyle features singers Tuesdays through Sundays, ranging from beloved Broadway divas to longtime guest Woody Allen blowing on his clarinet. Before or after dinner, you must get a drink in the Bemelmans Bar. The place takes its name from the children’s book author Ludwig Bemelmans (he created Madeleine), who covered the bar’s walls in his playful drawings (an elephant ice skating in Central Park, dogs having a picnic). And if you prefer not to indulge—or need to pamper yourself the next morning—be sure to book a treatment at the Carlyle spa, which offers massages, facial scrubs, waxing and wedding packages.
So, is the Carlyle right for you? Let’s not kid around: a few days there can set you back several thousand dollars; but if you have the money to spend and a special occasion to celebrate, why not do it up in old New York style?
Time Out tip: Culture vultures staying at the Carlyle are in luck. The recently opened Met Breuer is literally just down the street at 945 Madison Avenue. The Metropolitan Museum opened the Breuer (formerly the Whitney Museum) to help establish the Met a major player in the contemporary-art scene.