The Plaza, New York’s Classic Landmark Hotel

January 28, 2019 11:09 pm0 commentsViews: 114

The Plaza (5th Ave. and Central Park South) is probably the most iconic of New York’s classic hotels. It’s a National Historic Landmark that opened in 1907 and is sometimes confused with the nearby Trump International Hotel. Trump actually owned The Plaza – the iconic, classic, “real” Plaza – for a few years in the mid-1980s.

The Plaza cost an intemperate $12 million to build in the early 20th century, a sum that was needed to help defray the expense of procuring top-drawer luxury: marble in the lobbies, mahogany doors, Irish linen, gilded china and more than 1,500 crystal chandeliers.

The hotel was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, who also created the Dakota, the Upper West Side apartment building where John Lennon once lived with Yoko Ono (and outside of which he was famously gunned down), and the original Waldorf Hotel on the site that’s now the Empire State Building.

Eloise at The Plaza

The Plaza’s first overnight guests were the Alfred Vanderbilts; in the beginning, the majority of The Plaza’s guests were living in as residents. Among the residents was one fictional little girl called Eloise and her creator, Kay Thompson.

A perennial six-year-old since 1955, Eloise has continued to be introduced to subsequent generations and to embody both what is fresh about The Plaza and what is classic about New York – although the recent renaissance of The Plaza as a condo-hotel has not sat lightly with those who yearn nostalgically for the old Plaza.

What’s New at The Plaza

Although the hotel was deeply shrouded in mystique, the reality of actually sleeping there many found unpleasant. The hotel was the victim of lax upkeep and coasted along on its reputation and its magnificent public spaces.

Today, the 282-room Plaza is owned by the ElAd Group and managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. The hotel was reintroduced a few months ago after a nearly three-year, $400 million renovation that has brought it up to scratch as a true luxury hotel, complete with a new Tranquillity Garden and the latest in flat-screen, high-speed, high-definition technology.

Nostalgia’s Not Entirely Dead at The Plaza

Still, many of the most charming elements of The Plaza remain: The Palm Court, with its ritual of afternoon tea still going strong, and planned for later this summer, the reopening of the Oak Bar and the Oak Room, despite rumors in past years that these would be dismantled.

The Plaza’s frequent appearance in movies and as the backdrop for glamorous goings-on has helped to cement it in the global consciousness as a landmark reminder of an elegant time–rather, as a reminder that its elegant time is now–whatever changes it may undergo.

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