At the Plaza Hotel, all that glitters is gold. Literally. From chair legs and mirror frames to the bathrooms of each guest room and suite, the details are gilded with 24-carat gold plating. It’s classy and opulent and reminiscent of another time—but then again, it’s the Plaza. The midtown hotel has been a New York icon, offering first-rate lodging since 1907. Throughout the years and after many renovations, the National Historic Landmark’s guest list has been a who’s who of celebs, from the Beatles to Christian Dior, and the backdrop for many cultural works like The Great Gatsby and Eloise at the Plaza.
As soon as you enter the main doors, the fresh scent of gardenias takes you far away from the all-too-close scent of Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages. A friendly staff is waiting to greet you in the main lobby under a magnificent crystal chandelier. Head toward check-in and pass the stairs that ascend to the moody Rose Club lounge, where you can enjoy an expertly crafted cocktail, like the King Basil ($24)—which combines the herb with cucumber, gin, lillet and orange bitters—on a burgundy tufted-velvet couch. Stay on the ground floor for the lobby-adjacent Champagne Bar, where you can sip elegant bubbles and delight in caviar while taking in the regal atmosphere. The Palm Court, also on the main floor, is well known for its high-tea service, but the restaurant cheekily undersells its evening-fare menu by placing the petite three pages of food behind an extensive drinks menu. But don’t be fooled: The eats are exceptional. The “simply grilled” ahi tuna ($38) will melt in your mouth as you look up and admire the ceiling’s expansive stained-glass dome. For more variety, descend to the basement’s Todd English Food Hall and sample a variety of gourmet food stalls, or sit down at the eponymous restaurant to try world-ranging types of cuisine.
Back to the lobby, take the elevators—with mirrored, gold-columned interior walls—to your floor and discover that even the hallways are decorated impeccably. A velvet bench next to an antique rotary phone and illuminated details within the crown molding paints quite a picture. Inside your chandelier-adorned room, find a bed enveloped in soft white linens, a terry-cloth robe and slippers to match. Then it’s time to unwind. Use the iPad to set the room’s temperature to your exact preference, or dock your phone on the iHome and play some relaxing tunes as you soak in the tub. Don’t miss the Le Labo bath products in the separate gold-headed shower. Before calling it a night, order milk and cookies from the concierge—for the “Eloise treatment”—and settle in for a movie in bed.
It’s no surprise that the Plaza offers immaculate accommodations, but it strays from its luxury comrades by also offering a flawless complete experience. Packed with culture, history, and a touch of glitz, even if you never left the hotel premises, you would not have missed a drop of the quintessential New York experience..
Time Out tip: Though there is plenty to keep you busy within the Plaza's confines, cross 59th Street to find another New York landmark: Central Park. Explore the grounds, especially the nearby attractions of Wollman Rink for some ice-skating and the Central Park Zoo.