The Plaza, New York City
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York, New York 10019
The Plaza had two entrances, both attended by a Concierge. On arrival my car was greeted enthusiastically with assistance with luggage and directions to the Registration desk. I bounded up the stairs and wound my way around to the Registration desk. About 6 or 8 people were checking into, there were two reception staff. Within a few minutes I was greeted, again enthusiastically, and welcomed to The Plaza.I was then asked if I wanted to upgrade to a much larger suite for an additional $50 a night. I admire good salesmanship and readily accepted the offer. The clerk then advised he would try and find a really good room, again good salesmanship. His name was Sam. Soon he had me and a bell attendant on our way to the 7th floor and Room 722. Out of the bank of what appeared to be century old lifts (the machinery of course completly modernised), around a corner and down to a small hallway servicing two suites, one of which was 722. He invited me into the room and wow! This was a really nice and hugely spacious room with a king size bed, luxuriously enveloped in expensive coverings, and two hugely plus pillows. There was a bedside table and lamp, and telephone, on one side and a chest of two drawers and lamp on the other which also housed a digital clock radio. At the end of the bed there was a bed table and then opposite a setting of a sofa for two, and two lounge chairs surrounding a glass-top coffee table. Then further along there was a fireplace with a framed mirror at the top backing on to a wall mirror with a large bench, which featured a white statue and two candlelight lamps. In the center of the ceiling was this magnificent chandalier. Just beside the fireplace was a working desk complete with another phone, a lamp (only one of the two globes working) and an in-house fax, copier and printer. Internet access was via a modem through the phone but beware there is a charge of $.125 for the first 5 minutes and then 15 cents per minute thereafter for local calls. So if you're using a dial-up modem although you may be making a local call to your ISP the hotel meter is running. I did establish later that most rooms have high speed Internet access, and even provision of in-house computers, but these run at a cost of $24.95 a day. To link through your own laptop requires the same cost. The whole room decor was olde world including two great prints. There were three very large windows all with theatre style drapes from canopies almost reaching the ceiling. On one side of the suite was a large timber cabinet with mini bar, ice bucket and wine glasses, drawers and a TV. Unfortunately I couldn't get the TV to work so I had to call Guest Services who promised to send up an electrician. After a 30 minute wait I had to go out but assumed that by the time I returned the TV would be functioning. It unfortunately wasn't. Off to one side was a bathroom with two terry towelled gowns hanging from the door opening to the bedroom. There was a full size bath with shower, a basin with limited bench area and a toilet. There were some great guest amenties (shampoo, conditioner, body lotion) which gave the first sign that the hotel was affiliated with the Fairmont chain. The hotel has successfully retained its signature whilst sharing the benefits of being chain affiliated. The lfits servicing the hotel are magnificent, obviously relics of another time re-equipped with modern machinery, but retaining their olde World charm. I later tried the hotel's new bistro, so new it hadn't made the compendium (Hotel Directory). It was formerly the Edwardian Room but is now Bistro One. Its a pretty chic place, I decided to test it out with a simple fare. I ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice and an onion gratinee soup (French Onion soup). I was advised the orange juice was brought into the hotel fresh each day but was not strictly "freshly squeezed'. No problem and it was fine. A short time later I was confronted with this magnificent version of french onion soup with a toasted cheese crust with a 'bubble top' completely encasing the rather large bowl. The soup was fine, although I have tasted better, the presentation however was first class. Cost was reasonable and service impeccable. I didn't dine at the hotel, I had intended to try the famous Oak Room. It is reminiscent of an exclusive men's club and has been described as "the best steak house in New York". Unfortunately at the time of my stay it was only opening on Friday and Saturday nights. The hotel has of course its legendary tearoom, The Palm Court, which has entertained guests for almost a century. It is in the heart of the hotel on the ground floor, accessable via a number of entrances. The tearoom boasts a European style tea service and is famous for its desserts and pastries. I noted during various parts of the day entertainment was provided, alternatively by a harpist, and a blending of music from a pianist and violinist. This room is where the main breakfast is served, or of course you can have it delivered on a trolley to your room. The room is also renowned for its Sunday Brunch and Christmas Day lunch and dinners. Of course there is also the Oak Bar, adjoining the Oak Room which offers light fare in a tavern atmosphere. Many of the city's leading celebrities count this as their watering hole. Another popular venue in the hotel, with it's own entrance off the street is the Oyster Bar, a traditional British pub setting with etched glass windows, a 3 sided copper bar and Edwardian era murals. The hotel's directory says you can whet your appetite with cherrystones served on pewter and imported beer. Another pleasant surprise I encountered later on in the evening when I returned to the room was to find it freshly cleaned, tidied and with the bed cover removed and the sheets turned down. Turndown services seem to be vanishing these days, even from the deluxe hotels, so this was a nice touch. All in all it was hard to fault the hotel. It is a landmark in the City of New York, alongside the southern entrance to Central Park, with many of its rooms overlooking the Park. Almost directly opposite is Trump Tower (one of many these days), and being on 5th Avenue you are in the very midst of it all. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and couldn't recommend the hotel more. Unfortunately since my visit the hotel has closed it's doors for redevelopment despite it being a National Historic Monument. When the redevoplment is complete, the Plaza will have 282 hotel rooms, including 152 condo hotel units, and will be managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts as it was in its most reent years. We have scheduled it for review after its completion in 2007.