The Plaza, New York City
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York, New York 10019
After a prompt and friendly check-in at The Plaza I was escorted by the bellman to the 15th floor to room 1515. It was a pleasure to be greeted by a suite (to which I had been upgraded). The first of the two rooms was the size of a small hotel room, housing a work desk, two book shelves stacked with old books, a small post-card size window overlooking Central Park, an armchair and small table and a cabinet comprising a TV, a fully stocked Honor Bar, a set of four wine glasses and some small drawers. A chandalier came down from the center of the ceiling and a lamp stand overlooked the armchair and table. Another lamp sat on the work desk which included a phone, and a Multisync LCD screen. There was a keyboard in a center drawer. Use of the in-house computer for internet and email access is $24.95 a day, however there are free features which include a city guide, restaurant directory and city maps. If you have your own laptop with an ethernet card you call also access this high speed Internet service, albeit at the same $24.95 a day rate. There was also a draw to the right which embraced a private in-house fax machine. There was a mirror on the wall above the work desk and directly opposite a magnificent print of a woman and three small children watching miniature yachts on the pond in Central Park, with The Plaza in the background. The olde World print was encased in a superb gold frame and was a focal point for the room. A small hallway with the entrance to the bathroom to the left and a closet to the right extended for about two meters to the bedroom. The bedroom, which had a separate door, again fitted the charm of the hotel with the center-piece being a king size bed with two bedside tables, each with two drawers and lamps on top. On one of them was a digital clock radio. On the other a phone. The room had another post card size window overlooking Central Park. As with the room in the study the window was set back in an alcove and surrounded by theatre style drapes. Another set of shelves stocked with books added to the homeliness of the suite, which felt more like an apartment. Two maginifcently framed prints adorned the walls, one of them again being a Central Park setting. A big timber cabinet was centered in the wall facing away from the bed, and housed another (second) TV, and a video player was on top of the cabinet. An armchair and small table were beside the bed. A chandalier came down from the center of the ceiling, which with the two bedside lamps provided ample lighting. The closet or wardrobe was too small and hanging was back-to-back rather than side-on. There was enough space to hang garments on each side but the overall size was confined. The closet also contained a large and simple to use safe which had its own light, an ironing board and iron. There was a separate light for the closet. The bathroom's light switch was illuminated when off which was a handy feature. The bathroom was of good size, well lit and practically all white. There was a smaller window which again overlooked Central Park, a full size bath and shower combined and a basin, which was quite large. Bench space however was quite limited. The room, or suite, overall was very comfortable and homely. At night the bed was turned down which was a nice touch. That night I decided to try the Oak Bar, a legendary pub bar which was absolutely packed. Every table was taken and every seat at the bar, clearly a very popular gathering place. Service was excellent and after a couple of beers I took a glance at the bar menu which had a good selection of lighter meals. Hot dogs with fries were on the menu so I thought that would be a good idea, to dine at The Plaza and have a hot dog and fries. In any event the food was promptly served and was delicious. The cost was $12 which was quite reasonable, the local beers however were a bit on the high side at $8 each. Earlier I had taken a look at the Oyster Bar, however it was just too packed with people. Although The Plaza opened its doors in 1895 and was then re-built in 1907, the Oyster Bar was only added to the hotel in 1969. It was designed to cater for hotel guests that wanted to escape the formalities, and for the locals to meet. The architect visited England before completing the design to study the make-up of some of the traditional pubs there. He then returned and put together a cozy bar setting with dark oak walls rich leather upholstery, added some pub chandaliers and innovative lighting. Hand etched glass was brought in from the Sefina Company in Montreal to add to the ambiance. John Tarzian of Boston did the wall murals in an Edwardian style depicting local scenes. The Oyster Bar is very popular locally, and serves quality seafood dishes throughout the day until midnight. The next morning I decided to work out at The Plaza Spa. This is a relatively new addition and what a feature of the hotel it now is. A luxury setting housing separate areas for males and females. Each has its own whirlpool, steam and sauna, a lounge where fresh fruit, daily newspapers and Evian Spring Water on ice is readily available, and complimentary. The unisex work-out rooms have a splendid array of fitness and running machines and weights and even weight-belts (for those not already carrying enough weight). Again Evian water and fruit (apples and bananas) and papers were available throughout. The attendants were extremly courteous, friendly and helpful. Gowns and scuffs were available for guests. This is a really well-done area of the hotel, which together with the boutiques, gift shop famous Tea Room, the new bistro One C.P.S. (central Park South), the Oyster Bar, Oak Room (opens now on Fridays and Saturdays only for dinner) and the Oak Bar make the hotel one of the best in New York City. Add the location on Fifth Avenue and overlooking Central Park, and its pretty hard to beat. I found the stay most enoyable and the hotel well deserving of its reputation. A request for a late check-out to 3pm was readily agreed which only enhanced my regard for the hotel, and whats more the room was serviced prior to check-out. As a frequent visitor to The Plaza in the past I was disappointed when it was closed in early 2005 to be converted to a residential tower. I understand a hotel will be part of the development, but how much a part is yet to be seen. When the renovations are complete, the Plaza will have 282 hotel rooms, including 152 condo hotel units and will again be managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. In the meantime all all that remains of The Plaza is the memory of it.