Most of the excitement about New York City hotels over the past few years has been at the bottom end of Manhattan — in newly gentrified neighbourhoods like the Lower East Side and TriBeCa, where boutique-style hotels attract the young, hip and media-savvy. This month however, the opening — or, correctly — the reopening of one of the city’s classic destination hotels, The Pierre, is what’s getting New York trend-watchers’ attention.
Originally built in the 1930s to look like a French château, The Pierre has just undergone a $100 million renovation of its rooms and public areas after being purchased by the Taj Hotel group, which considers The Pierre its US flagship. And with good reason — the location is possibly one of the most desirable spots in the city, facing Central Park on Fifth Avenue between 60th and 61st streets. The park is literally a beigel toss away.
The hotel’s proximity to so much green space — there are few skyscrapers surrounding it — means that rooms are unusually light. (New York, after all, is a city where it’s possible to open your curtains to find a brick wall only inches from your nose.) The redesigned accommodation features a colour palette of soft neutrals, tufted leather headboards and dark wood furniture, and each room has up-to-the-minute technology such as a 40in flatscreen TV, a Bose stereo with an iPod docking station and WiFi. This all seems appropriate when you learn that in 1950 The Pierre was the first hotel to install radio and television sets in all guest rooms.
If you’re looking for a modern, hip environment, this isn’t for you. The Pierre is a distinguished lady of a certain age, not a contemporary girl-about-town. From the white-gloved operators who operate the wood-panelled lifts to the ceilings of the grand ballroom that were restored by artisans brought in from Portugal, the property oozes understated, refined elegance.
Perhaps most exciting of all is that the redevelopment will see the opening of one of London’s most famous restaurants, Le Caprice, which is known for its updated versions of classic comfort foods like Dorset dressed crab and pork cutlets. Take it from us, the fish cakes are highly recommended.
2 East 61st Street, New York (+1 (212) 838-8000, tajhotels.com)