This article is part of the Luxury Hotel Series: a partnership with The Travel Women
Tennessee Williams once said, “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”
As I stepped into the Hotel Elysée from the busy streets of New York City, I sighed a breath of relief. Perhaps William’s was right when he said this – after all he lived and died in NYC. In fact, he died in the Hotel Elysée after living the last 15 years of his life there. I think he was onto something; that we need to live more in the moment – to appreciate our surroundings. I was determined to do just that during my stay in this classic New York hotel.
Once the playground for the rich and famous, the Hotel Elysée is old New York glamour at it’s finest. As a New Yorker, I think it’s important for us to know the city’s rich – and often scandalous – history. Built in the 1920’s the hotel saw prohibition come and go; it also was visited by movie stars, artists, writers and intellectuals. Celebrities, such as, Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Tallulah Bankhead, Vladamir Horowitz and sports icon Joe DiMaggio, all considered this historic hotel their home.
Walking through the elegant hallways feels as if you have been transported to another time when classic luxury, beautifully maintained architectural details and personal service was unquestionably provided. The hotel’s vibrant luxury reminds you of a different era.
Hosting only 100 rooms, the Hotel Elysée has an intimate feel. This allows guests to have a more authentic NYC – less touristy – experience; a rare find among NYC hotels. There is a clubroom with current magazines and newspapers, an espresso bar, pastries and fresh fruit available all day – perfect for a relaxing break or a business meeting. My favorite part is their daily complimentary wine and cheese hour from 5p – 8p. This experience is truly a gem for a NYC hotel and is hosted in a gorgeous 1930’s themed room with windows overlooking the busy city streets; a lovely place for people watching.
But what about its location? As a New Yorker, I can honestly say that it couldn’t be better. The Hotel Elysée is centrally located at 54th, in between Madison and Park Avenue. It is only six blocks south of Central Park and even closer to world-class Broadway theatres. Many museums, attractions, and the best shopping in NYC are midtown as well, such as, Rockefeller Center, Columbus Circle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Times Square. It’s also walking distance to all major subway lines.
It would be a crime to write about the Hotel Elysée without mentioning their famous Monkey Bar. The historic restaurant and bar opened fresh from the repeal of the prohibition era. It quickly created a reputation for itself as the place to go to party the day away with an impromptu companion. Locals would nickname it the “easy lay” and it soon became home to movie star Tallulah Bankhead with her outrageous personality and devastating wit, in addition to several historical events. More recently it was featured on “Sex and the City” and “Mad Men”.
Today visitors can dine on classic American fare while gazing at a three-paneled mural dedicated to the great Jazz Age stars that once sailed through its doors. The dining room’s red leather banquettes and dim lighting will invoke images of a time when men would only go out in three pieced suits and ladies would wear white gloves.
After a night out at the Monkey Bar and a good night’s sleep in the Hotel Elysée, I felt as if I had spent the evening in the 1930’s. The hotel’s goal is to transport its guests to another era, how fitting was it then that I had lost track of when and where I was. I stepped through the golden lobby doors; outside the air is crisp, cold. I re-enter 2017 and disappear into the streets of modern day New York.
Our first episode of The Luxury Hotel Series click was about The Library Hotel; a book themed hotel in the heart of Manhattan. Click here to see our video and read our article about it.