When staying in New York City, there is no better experience than rooming in a piece of history. The Hotel Elysée, a long standing landmark hotel designed in the 1920's, and once a playground for the rich and famous, offers an extraordinary oasis of European charm in demanding city of cement and steel.
Walking the enchanting interiors of this traditional hotel makes one appreciate the commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of discreet elegance from another time. Carefully maintained architectural details, lodgings decorated with antiques and the finest materials to the framed art work in the corridors and rooms, the hotel creates an atmosphere of vibrant luxury that feels as vital today as when it was established. It creates a backdrop where passing the luminaries of the past in the hotel hallways today seems magically possible.
The hotel became the home of choice to many celebrities and literary stars from the golden ages of film, broadway, and sports with such time-honored titans as Tenessee Williams and Harold Robbins and including star power like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Tallula Bankhead, Vladamir Horowitz and sports icon Joe DiMaggio.
Walking into the elegant lobby or your own suite, becomes the best kind of time travel as you feel transported to an era when comfort, style and sophistication was de-facto maintained and personal service was provided unconditionally without reservation.
The hotel, an award winner for many years, as well as being a top ten hotel in NYC on Trip Advisors, offers a club room on the second floor where guests can relax in antique chairs or couches that look out the windows to 54th street. This amenity goes far beyond what most hotels provide as you can relax on your own, or invite friends or clients for casual meetings. The complimentary coffee and espresso bar, pastries and fresh fruit are available to guests throughout the day, along with a wine and cheese offering from 5pm-8pm every evening, including Prosseco and Italian wines and domestic cheeses. A complimentary breakfast buffet is offered as well from 7am to 10:30am. I took advantage of both, choosing to meet friends in town in the club room, as well as taking time for myself inbetween adventurous soujourns I find myself drawn to while in the big apple. For more formal business meetings, the hotel has an intimate conference room adjacent to the club room.
Conveniently located at 54th, inbetween Madison and Park Avenue, this luxury boutique hotel has only 100 rooms, allowing for unusual intimacy with their guests which I experienced first hand the few times I required assistance from the front desk. The hotel is only six blocks from central park going north and about the same going south to Broadway with a two avenue hop to the west. Many museums and the best shopping in NYC are mid-town as well, as well as Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle, St. Patrick's cathedral, Bloomingdale's, and some of the most famous restaurants in the world, which are all within easy walking distance. Walking to the Museum of Modern Art from the hotel one evening was a pleasure, as was walking to the Ambassador Theater on Broadway to see the musical Chicago on another. All of which made for a perfect New York walking experience. I also visited Chinatown and the Brooklyn Flea market on other days, which was easy with the hotel sitting in the midst of multiple transportation lines.
The rooms themselves are evocative of a time past and the Elysee hotel has maintained and even improved on the commitment of the original owner making each room uniquely true to its European inspirations and sumptuousness.
The hotel hosts junior and premier suites in addition to standard rooms and I had the advantage of experiencing one of three Presidential suites that have surely ruined me for any future hotel stay. The suite is the size of a generous apartment and opens into a large living room with fireplace, and antique furniture that is emblematic of the Ritz in Paris. Through a small hall and passing an enormous closet, one finds the oversized bedroom which sports original paintings from the 1800s and a sumptuous queen bed that gives ample room to stow your luggage or shopping bags, or even have a small cardio barre class if required. The marble tiled bathroom with antique pedestal sink finishes the design perfectly. You know you are having a luxurious hotel experience when you second guess sightseeing in New York City for merely staying in the privacy and comfort of your hotel suite.
To lure you back outside the hotel guests receive complimentary passes to the New York Sports Club in addition to concierge assistance to any culture events that may entice you. Being a health-o-file gym addict, I took advantage of the opportunity and had a terrific boxing class with 'Santana' at a gym location only five blocks away. That made a return to my luxurious suite all the more important so I could collapse and recover before dinner.
The Monkey Bar, the legendary New York nightspot, is the famous new York restaurant which opened in the depression and sits attached to the hotel. It has hosted such great performers as Jonny Payne and Mel Martin and was a watering hole for many great sports and Hollywood legends and Joe DiMaggio's presence is felt here again. It maintains its great romantic old world quality with its booths of plush fabric and fine linens. You can choose to have a quick drink at the bar before an evening out, or plan to make your entire evening there. The restaurant's unique menu is also available through room service.
My suite was dedicated to Tennessee Williams and several photographs and collections of his plays were on display. A framed picture of the playwright hangs on the wall incorporating a letter he wrote to a friend in the late 1950s in which he explains he'll be working on a new Broadway production and staying in the hotel Elysée while in New York City. Based on the timing of the letter one figures the play is most likely "Sweet Bird of Youth." It stirred memories of Jimmy Breslin's famous story of a hotel guest at the Elysee complaining of a 'man typing' at 5am one morning so often that they couldn't sleep. The front desk would never share that it was Tennessee Williams writing his play next door. Discreet enough not to bother Mr. Williams while wanting to help a guest in need, they merely moved the other guest to a room further away. That consideration is how a hotel maintains its status among the best heeled and the same discretion and care is on display today.
For an unparalleled stay in timeless old world elegance, the Hotel Elysée is a one of a kind experience.
Rooms at the Hotel Elysée come with free wi-fi, minibars, flat screen tv's and some suites come with kitchenettes (as did mine). The club room doubles as a business center for computer needs or printing. Valet parking is available, as well as 24 hour concierge service and even baby sitting.
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