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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Good Old Plaza

Now undergoing restoration and cleaning, the classic old Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue right next to Central Park is one of those landmarks, which, no matter how much they change and rearrange it, keeps shining on just because of its location. It is perfectly situated where the commercial Fifth Avenue ends and becomes the residential Fifth Avenue begins and there are the horse drawn carriages and statuary ( one of which is being restored at the moment and not there, to my surprise)...

 Who hasn't come and gone at this place? It is like the Waldorf Astoria that way. And just as the Waldorf has its Towers with permanent residents, part of this building was turned over to condos too.

Have to go to Wikipedia for a little history here (not too much I hope).

The Plaza Hotel, located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel with a height of 250 ft (76 m) and length of 400 ft (120 m) that occupies the west side of Grand Army Plaza, from which it derives its name, and extends along Central Park South in Manhattan. Fifth Avenue extends along the east side of Grand Army Plaza. The Plaza Hotel is recognized as a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Grand Army Plaza

The Plaza, ca. 1920

The Plaza and its International Modern style neighbors, seen across The Pond in Central Park

The Plaza Hotel turned 100 years old in 2007, celebrating with ceremonies and fireworks.
The hotel's main entrance faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza, commemorating the Union Army in the Civil War. Grand Army Plaza is in two sections, bisected by Central Park South. The section in front of the Plaza Hotel is centered by the Pulitzer Fountain, of Abundance by Karl Bitter, funded by the will of the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer: the statue in the fountain is specifically Pomona, Roman goddess of orchards. The statue was posed for by Doris Doscher, also famous for posing for the Standing Liberty Quarter. The north side of Grand Army Plaza, a corner cut out from Central Park, has Augustus Saint-Gaudens' part-gilded bronze equestrian statue of General Sherman.[3] Scholars Gate, behind Grand Army Plaza, provided one of the two original main entrances to the carriage drives of Central Park, the other being Merchants Gate at the Grand Circle, now Columbus Circle.
On the south side of the Plaza (between 57th and 58th Streets) once stood the French Renaissance château of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, designed by George Browne Post; rising behind its gated front court, it was the grandest of the Fifth Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age. Bergdorf Goodman occupies its site.


The Plaza is the second hotel of that name on the site. The French Renaissance château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened to the public on October 1, 1907. At the time, it cost $12.5 million to construct. When the hotel opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night (equivalent of $62 today). Today, the same room costs from $695 upwards.[4]
The Plaza was accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969; it was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1986.[2][5][6] The Waldorf-Astoria is the only other New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Long the site for famous performers and guests, it has also been the meeting place for important political meetings. The nationally known singers Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Kay Thompson, Sandler and Young, Andy Williams, and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room; unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar; and women favored the Palm Court for luncheons and teas. The Beatles stayed at the Plaza during their first visit to the United States in February 1964.[4] On November 28, 1966, in honor of the publisher Katharine Graham, the writer Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed "Black & White Ball" in the Grand Ballroom.
In September 1985, ministers of developed countries met at the Plaza to consult on finance issues and affirmed their agreement by signing the Plaza Accord. It served as an agreement among the finance ministers of the United States, Japan, West Germany, France and Britain to bring down the price of the U.S. dollar against their currencies.
The hotel offers tours of its interior to the public.

Ownership changes and renovations

Karl Bitter's Abundance, or Pomona in the Pulitzer Fountain

Augustus Saint-Gaudens' General Sherman monument
Conrad Hilton bought the Plaza for US$7.4 million in 1943 (equivalent of $98.2 million today) and spent US$6.0 million (equivalent of $79.6 million today) refurbishing it. The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain which partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel,[7] (now the site of the General Motors Building), purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1955 for 1,100,000 shares of Childs common stock, valued at approximately $6,325,000 (equivalent of $54.2 million today).[8] Childs subsequently changed its name to Hotel Corporation of America, now known as Sonesta International Hotels Corporation.[9] Donald Trump bought the Plaza for $407.5 million in 1988 (equivalent of $790 million today). Trump commented on his purchase in a full-page open letter he published in The New York Times: "I haven't purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece — the Mona Lisa. For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic — for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful the Plaza becomes."
After Trump's divorce from wife Ivana Trump, the Plaza's president, Trump sold the hotel for $325 million in 1995 (equivalent of $490 million today) to Troy Richard Campbell, from New Hampshire. He sold it in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent of $820 million today) to Israeli-owned Manhattan-based developer, El Ad Properties.
El Ad bought the hotel with plans of adding residential and commercial sections. Since The Plaza Hotel is a New York landmark, Tishman Construction Corporation, the construction management company hired to complete the renovations and conversions, had to comply with landmark regulations.[10] El Ad temporarily closed The Plaza on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations.[11] Beginning May 2005, the Plaza's contents were available to the public via a liquidation sale. The Plaza reopened on March 1, 2008,[12] offering 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condo hotel units; it is managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Diamond retailer Lev Leviev put in the first bid for a Plaza apartment at $10 million.
In November 2008 the Plaza Hotel unveiled its retail collection, an underground mall featuring luxury brands such as Vertu and Demel Bakery (closed as of March 2010), an Austrian-owned business. In 2010 the Plaza Food Hall opened in the underground mall, run by Chef Todd English.[13]
On 31 July 2012, India's business group Sahara India Pariwar agreed to buy a 75% controlling stake for $570 million from El Ad Properties.[14]

In popular culture

Literature and publications

  • It was the setting for Kay Thompson's series of Eloise children's books published in the 1950s, about a young girl who lived at the hotel.
  • The novel Anonymous Rex has the main character, Vincent Rubio, checking into the hotel at great expense after threatening the front desk clerk.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), features the characters Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker having a conversation in the tea garden at the Plaza Hotel.
  • Also it was one of the main settings in the series, by Meg Cabot The Princess Diaries, It was where Mia's Grandmother or Grandmere lived in the book.
  • It was the setting for a children's book on manners, "The Golden Rules of Etiquette at the Plaza for Discerning Children of All Ages" by Tom Civitano, Lyudmila Bloch, and Rosemary Carroll (2004)
  • It was a base camp used by the demigods in The Last Olympian in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series (2009). The Pomona statue appears.

Films and television

The hotel has been featured in numerous motion picture productions set in New York. See film backdrop and television backdrop, below.

Film backdrop

It was also a setting for:

And now on to Yelp....where people love it but some say they could run it bette

The Plaza Hotel

175 reviews Rating Details
768 5th Ave
(between 58th St & 59th St)
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhood: Midtown West
(212) 759-3000
Nearest Transit Station:
5 Av/59 St (N, Q, R)
57 St (F)
5 Av/53 St (E, M)
Price Range:
Accepts Credit Cards:

Review Highlights   What's this?

  • "Staff at the spa, restaurants, and Palm Court were fantastic." In 54 reviews
  • "We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon tea experience." In 40 reviews
  • "I jogged through Central Park every morning to start my day." In 20 reviews
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175 reviews in English

  • Review from

    • 5 friends
    • 37 reviews
    Update - 6/8/2013
    After staying at the St. Regis, I can compare with the Plaza.
    The Plaza wins for comfortable bed and bedding, comfortable room set up, more sun enters room, a more welcoming lobby area, friendly maids and great maid service.

    St. Regis wins in location to major stores, gym services and concierge services were incredible!  My husband believes that the rooms at St. Regis were more updated than the Plaza, but I feel that they were equal in that sense.

    My husband prefers the St. Regis, I prefer the Plaza (if only they could recruit some St. Regis concierge staff the Plaza would be perfect!).

    1 Previous Review: Show all »

    • 6/3/2013
      A 3.5 if I could.....

      AMBIANCE is beautiful!  The chandeliers in the lobby are so gorgeous.  Hotel… Read more »
  • Review from

    • 61 friends
    • 27 reviews
    Update - 6/12/2013
    Went back with my mother and was disappointed by the snobbery of the staff.   I wanted to recreate the wonderful time I had with my friend to my mother who was visiting from LA. We could not get anyones attention after we were seated and when we did, they completely ignored my mother (who was paying for the tea!)

    Perhaps the management has changed, perhaps it was an off day, but not sure if it was really worth the money.  It certainly left a bad taste in my mother's mouth.

    1 Previous Review: Show all »

    • 5/26/2010
      Went here today for a last minute High Tea after a morning visit to MoMA.  Showed up at 12:30 and… Read more »
  • Review from

    • 16 friends
    • 14 reviews
    3/7/2013 1 check-in here
    This place gets 5 stars simply for the fact that Kevin McCalister stayed here on HOME ALONE 2!!! One of my favorite movies of all time! And its pretty nice as well lol

    I just visited this hotel because I love Home Alone and because it probably costs an arm and a leg to stay here.  Before we even walked in, I was greeted by too extremely friendly door men.  Very classy lobby and dining room right when you walk in.

    The lighting and fixtures in this hotel were extravegent and it is probably very expensive to stay (just looked it up about $700/night) here but who knows one day it could happen.
  • Review from

    We had taken our girls for a broadway show and summer weekend.  As they had enjoyed the Eloise cartoon series we booked the Eloise suite.

    Unfortunately, almost every step of the 1200.00 per night  was far below the service we have received at the Four Seasons OR the St Regis.  All three elevators were out of service for one of the 2.5 days of our trip.  Staying on the 17th floor and it being 97 degrees out , made the stairs a difficult option.

    These things can happen and I'm sure the hotel wasn't delighted about it either...HOWEVER as guests we saw ZERO effort to apologize or make up for a rather significant inconvenience .  No complimentary treats for the children, or any 'ability' to refund  any part of the bill for lack of access to our room for hours on end.

    We were told that it should never happen again and would be considered for a room upgrade at our next visit?

    Also there was supposed to be a butler that checks in on you who never showed up. One of the rooms in the suite wasn't even cleaned from the previous guest. Nor was there any introductory tour of the rooms which typically accompanies such a suite.  Room service orders were incorrect and the staff simply did not return until the next day!

    This was all discussed with the manager and again the room upgrade at a future visit was offered.  It's a beautiful building with a great location, but in our experience if something goes wrong.. they do not care!
  • Review from

    2/24/2013 1 check-in here
    This hotel is fantastic.

    The location is absolutely great.  It's on 5th avenue New York City so it's right in the middle of everything and all the best shopping.

    It is right across from Central Park and the Apple store and Bergdorf Goodman.

    All the best shopping is nearby - Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co., Bvlgari, Ferragamo, etc. etc. it goes on and on.  It's a short walk (about 10-15 minutes) from Times Square and a quick 10 minute $7 cab ride there.

    There are also tons of restaurants nearby.

    Alright, enough about the location.

    The hotel itself is beautiful.  It's old and classic and it shows.  I read that it has been recently renovated and it's been well done.  The hotel maintains the classy feel of something that has aged well and is elegant while not being dated and faded.  One of the only ways I could tell this was an old hotel were the very small elevators but even they had beautiful wood work, mirrors and crystal chandeliers.

    The room was the deluxe rose suite.  It was a pretty large room with a king sized bed with lush feather pillows on it.  It was heaven.  It had a sitting area, a chaise lounger in front of the bed - two closets - and a large bathroom with the lovely vine mosaic tile work and gold detail everywhere.

    The service was excellent.  They hailed us cabs in the rain out in front of the hotel and opened our doors and closed them for us as we got in.  They carried all our bags for us.  They opened and closed doors.... it was what is expected from a hotel that boasts luxury at it's best.

    We ate breakfast our final day in the Palm Court - which is beautiful.  The food was so-so.  I've stayed at some high class hotels in my time: the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, the Waldorf-Astoria in Rome, etc. and the breakfast here that was offered continental was not on the level of this hotel.  The eggs were runny and the pastry selection consisted of a few hard muffins and some other small croissants and such, not great.  I was disappointed.  It was $35 a person which is about standard but for that price at other hotels I've had far better food.  Not happy with that.  My friend did order from the menu and got some very good french toast.

    Still - the hotel is excellent and the next time I take a weekend trip I'll stay here - I may just not have the breakfast.
  • Review from

    2/5/2013 1 check-in here
    I LOVE afternoon tea. Mini sandwiches, scones, tea and the sheer stuffiness of it all delights me! There's nothing I like better than feeling as though I'm one classy gal.

    My aunt brought my sisters and I to the Palm Court at the Plaza as a holiday treat. It was wonderful. I felt as though I were at the height of civility! We had reservations for a Sunday afternoon at 2. We arrived a little earlier just to check out the hotel a bit. Living in NYC doesn't really allow you to enjoy the more touristy but still wonderful aspects of the city so I really appreciated having this classic NY experience.

    The staff at The Palm Court were all wonderful. I ordered The Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages. I paired it with the Tuscan Pear tea. In afternoon tea, you always eat sandwiches first, scones second and desserts last. I read that once on an afternoon tea etiquette website. And since I was having tea at The Plaza, I wanted to be nothing but class. (Even though I'm truly not hahaha)

    The sandwiches were really amazing. I really appreciated the Maine lobster sandwich, the quail egg one and the caviar smoked salmon one. The waiter also gave us extra scones! I was surprised at how incredibly full I was. I found myself stuffed after eating all the courses. The scones seemed endless! The marmalade was so perfect. I never wanted afternoon tea to end.

    I will definitely come back for another afternoon tea experience. The Palm Court at The Plaza just exceeded every expectation of mine!
  • Review from

    • 115 friends
    • 340 reviews
    5/23/2013 1 check-in here
    Gogeous and everything I expected.  What a NYC treat right at the park
  • Review from

    • 7 friends
    • 78 reviews
    A little run down but still classic and charming. When we stayed there they were renovating the place so hopefully it's better now!
  • Review from