The Carlyle Hotel in New York City exudes luxury, glamour and elegance with a modern twist. Upon entering the hotel, a classy, refined ambiance greets any discerning traveler and provides a charming, graceful yet discrete experience. Located on the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan steps away from the shops of Madison Avenue, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The MET Breuer Building The Carlyle (a Rosewood hotel) offers countless sophisticated experiences whether you decide to explore this fashionable area or never leave the hotel! Art and music abound throughout the hotel creating a beautiful atmosphere to the eye and ear. While the Carlyle is noted for its luxury and elegance, it also has a fascinating, storied history allowing guests to walk and stay in the rooms of many famous and influential people.
The 191-room hotel was built in 1930 by famed architect’s Sylvan Bien & Harry M. Prince. It was named after Thomas Carlyle, a noted British essayist and historian whose book The French Revolution: A History was the inspiration for Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. The Carlyle has long been a favorite hotel of many notable people. Every American President since Truman has visited The Carlyle. The hotel was a favorite of John F. Kennedy serving as his New York White House. He owned an apartment on the 34th floor for 10 years. After Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” song, she secretly was whisked into the hotel through the back entrance and underground tunnels to meet President Kennedy. Ironically, it is also the last place John F. Kennedy, Jr. ate breakfast before his plane crash. The hotel has also hosted many royals and heads of state including HRR, the Prince of Wales; Diana, Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the King and Queens of Denmark, Greece, Sweden and Spain. It was the favorite hotel of Diana, Princess of Wales, often hosting her discreetly in the Royal Suite.
The Carlyle offers a wide variety of rooms and suites. I LOVED my Deluxe Tower room located on the 21st floor with sweeping views of Central Park, the West Side, Madison Avenue and the Metropolitan Museum. I could have sat in front of my window forever. The beauty and comfort of my room and the view were fabulous. The Carlyle pays homage to its New York location with an awesome Big Apple greeting, warm apple cider and various apple treats. So yummy!
My room could be combined with an adjoining Premier 2-bedroom Suite (creating a 4-bedroom suite). I could have lived in this stunning suite that featured a gorgeous kitchen, eating area, marble hallway, and stunning great room. The great room, with its incredibly high ceilings and fireplace, was very special. It is one of 9 suites that house a piano that belonged to Bobby Short, the cabaret singer/ pianist who performed in the Café Carlyle for 35 years beginning in 1968 until his death. More on him to come.
I was lucky to visit several other suites including a Rosewood Suite, a Carlyle Suite, and one of the 3 named suites, The Empire Suite. (The other two named suites are the Royal Suite and the Roger Federer Suite) Each suite had its own flavor with beautiful, classy yet edgy décor, stunning art work, and beautiful views.
Nothing however, could compare to The Empire Suite which is breathtaking! Evoking an old New York style mixed with a Frank Lloyd Wright vibe, this suite is the ultimate in luxury. The Empire Suite is a duplex featuring a living room, study, and kitchen on the first floor with two bedrooms on the second floor. From the moment I walked in, I was enveloped in warm, welcoming tones of brown, reds, greens, and beiges. The view in the bedrooms is incredible but the view from the large picture window in the living room is breathtaking. I wanted to curl up with a comfy blanket in front of the New York skyline for hours.
The stairs up to the second floor might have been one of my most favorite things in the suite. The walls leading up to the second-floor landing are covered with the most amazing murals. The study and the kitchen cabinets feature incredible black and white pictures of various New York sights. Truly stunning especially in a suite that offers spectacular views of New York City! The rest of the suite also features some incredible art work: African inspired masks, an antique phone and various paintings. I was in heaven. One night is this suite is costly but worth every penny!
After visiting these incredible suites, it was time to replenish our energy so we headed to the iconic Bemelmans Bar. To get a real feel for New York's society scene, this is the place to go! Even on a Sunday night at 6:00 pm the bar was packed and the music of Earl Rose was flowing. A variety of artists perform every night of the week. Bemelmans is an upscale piano bar decorated in the Art Deco style with chocolate brown leather banquettes, black tables and a 24-karat gold leaf ceiling. The real gem of the bar, however, are the stunning murals. During the 1940s, Ludwig Bemelmans, the writer/illustrator of the children’s book series Madeline, painted the murals. In exchange for his work, the Bemelmans family lived in the Carlyle while Ludwig completed the murals. Whether you are a lover of children’s classic books or not (I am!) the murals are extraordinary. They are, in fact, the only surviving public commission of Bemelmans. During November and December, the Carlyle offers an exclusive Madeline tea which is a must visit for kids.
Another cool spot located adjacent to Bemelmans Bar and the Carlyle Restaurant is The Gallery. I loved this room! The middle eastern décor of The Gallery is based on the dining room of the Sultan’s Topikapi Palace in Turkey. The decor is truly exotic: red fringed velvet chairs, tromp l’oeil wallpaper, and antique kilims. This is a great spot for afternoon tea (which I very much enjoyed), a cocktail, or a light bite. It’s very easy to pass the time in this comfortable, private spot. The Gallery is also next to the Café Carlyle which is a must for any visitor to the Carlyle or New York City.
Café Carlyle contributes to the classy, golden age vibe of this landmark hotel. Most nights cabaret comes alive in this amazing venue which began in 1955. This 90-seat theater presents a traditional supper club experience- awesome cabaret performances and a fabulous dinner. I was mesmerized by the Marcel Vertes music inspired murals adorning the walls. This season alone, Rita Wilson, Katharine McPhee, and Mandy Gonzalez are performing. Woody Allen regularly performs as does Steve Tyrell in December. Cabaret singer Bobby Short began his career at the Café Carlyle in 1968 becoming an institution at the venue until his death in 2005. Steve Tyrell has performed for 13 years keeping the golden age of cabaret songs alive at the Carlyle. The room is so intimate that there is not one bad seat. Plus, it’s pretty amazing to be sitting up close to such talented performers. There were no performances as I toured the room but I can’t wait to go back for a show!
An incredible dinner at The Carlyle Restaurant rounded out a fabulous evening at the Carlyle. This intimate, sophisticated setting provides a seasonal menu that was delicious. The restaurant is known for their Dover Sole but everything was fantastic! The staff was incredibly attentive and took such great care of us. Placed throughout the alcoves and main room of the restaurant are stunning vintage photographs by Harry Benson. The photos highlight famous, influential people who have made the Carlyle their New York City spot. The history and iconic status of the hotel is evident through these photos and throughout the entire hotel.
A stay at the Carlyle is a truly memorable experience. In addition to the fabulous accommodations, art and music, the hotel features fabulous wellness amenities. The Sisley Paris Spa offers various treatments with Sisley products as well as a state of the art fitness center. To help prepare guests for a night on the town, the Yves Durif Salon offers a glamours hair experience. All of these amenities combined with the luxurious accommodations make any stay at the the Carlyle memorable. From the moment you enter the sophisticated lobby, ride the elevator with the friendly elevator operators, take in the views from the Tower Suites, experience Bemelmans Bar or Café Carlyle, it is clear why the Carlyle is a landmark, luxury hotel. I loved the vibe of New York's golden age combined with a modern edge that the rooms evoked. It is not a shock that princesses, presidents, celebrities, and dignitaries seek out the refined, private, first class experience of the Carlyle Hotel. I wished I could move in and can’t wait to visit again.