The Carlyle is a beautiful and intergal part of New York's culture and holds many stories having hosted the most exhalted names in politics, the arts, wealth and influence. I have been coming to this hotel since I was a little girl and I have a lot of memories built around the Restaurant, Bemelman's Bar, and the hotel itself. As mentioned many times in the posts, it is the hotel that hosted President Kennedy, British Royalty and, on my most recent stay, Roger Federer.
We live close by and needed a place to stay for a few nights while our floors were being refinished. We booked a lovely deluxe suite and we were very happy with the spacious accommodations. The front office allotted us a large suite with an entry, a large powder room, a living room with a Steinway grand piano (which I actually enjoyed playing...very softly), a large spacious bedroom and a small master bath. On a high floor, facing south, we enjoyed sunlight all day long. The gentleman who checked us in was quite nice and friendly but I was surprised he didn't show us up to our room.
In my view, one doesn't go to the Carlyle for sleek, large spa bathrooms or the greatest and latest in technology. Indeed, even the decor is somewhat beside the point. It's as if a rich aunt had a pied a terre in Manhattan and decorated it once with very nice furniture but never saw the need to bring it up to Architectural Digest standards. I personally love the hardwood floors beneath the large area rugs and the not necessarily perfectly matched furniture. I actually enjoyed the bathroom which I'm sure is not what you will find in the Four Seasons...it is like an old, apartment style bath...ours was mirrored but it was just the basics but I found the tub very relaxing and the whole thing had an unselfconscious charm.
My problem with the Carlyle stems from the fact that this hotel needs to offer the type of world class service that really makes some physical quirks absolutely unimportant.
When I think Mr. Federer chose to stay at the Carlyle as did the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge it is clear the Carlyle is absolutely able to offer an unsurpassed level of service. I like to compare the Carlyle to Claridge's in London. Another very particular style of hotel (but inarguably much more lovely) which will never need automatic drapery controls to exude elegance at every turn. At the Carlyle, though, I definitely get the sense that the level of service a guest receives is based on variables that should not exist in a world class hotel. The service was fine. I have no complaints...but it's not special. At no point was I ever made to feel special or valued which is what the Carlyle needs to offer to every guest. That's how other hotels surpass the Carlyle nowadays...not in glitz but in treating every guest like a VIP. I find, generally, that the top hotels in the US do not go out of their way to spoil their guests like their European counterparts. The Carlyle has an elegance that is unmistakable (and it's located in the best part of NY, without question, and it was meant to appeal, in the old days, to what was referred to as "the carriage trade.") But guests like me don't get that really personalized service such as a bed made to a particular specification or even an additional bar of soap. The days of fruit plates or an evening amenity appear to,have disappeared entirely. The suite was large and very residential in feel. I was as comfortable as could be but I was not pampered. At all.
Two other little things that I would like to mention: the elevator service really needs to improve. Don't get me wrong...I love the small elevators which are still operated by employees of the hotel. The problem is only two elevators out of four are running. This is a problem I had years ago. They are so slow and so small...and on top of that, sometimes the elevator operator leaves his post to help out elsewhere in the lobby. Other guests and I joked how they hotel should pass out a time table for the elevators...the wait can really cause one to be materially delayed. I am not exaggerating.
Lastly, I was appalled by how far the hotel breakfast buffet has slipped over the years. For many years the Carlyle buffet breakfast was truly special. In fact, fifteen years ago you couldn't enter the dining room for breakfast unless dressed really properly. The buffet used to be a feast. The dining room is a gorgeous place. The breakfast has now been reduced to your basic chafing dishes with soggy hot food, some really nice fruit, yoghurts,a few healthy choices a bit of smoked salmon. If you closed your eyes you could be anywhere with chewy baguettes and truly pedestrian croissants. Just awful and much too awful for the Carlyle. . It is entirely self service...nobody will even carry your juice to the table or come around to pour water. It appears only guests ordering a la carte are entitled to any notice. A cold cup of cappuccino was plunked at my side.
If this wasn't the Carlyle I suppose I would expect less but it is the Carlyle and all of us deserve to be greeted by name and we all deserve to be treated as special guests.
No matter what, Bemelemens Bar is heaven. I will always go there for the best cocktails, specialty drinks and excellent food. I'm glad that's in my neighborhood.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surround yourself with the elegance of the Upper East Side - from the vibrant culture and elite shopping to the oasis of understated luxury - The Carlyle has become a "home away from home" for sophisticated travelers. Offering a first-class combination of discretion and grace - the 193 rooms and suites feature elegant views of Central Park and Manhattan's skyline. Gracious and romantic formal dining awaits guests in The Carlyle Restaurant while legendary entertainers create the quintessential New York cabaret experience in the famed Café Carlyle.Step outside the elegant marble lobby and into a new level of sophistication. The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel is surrounded by galleries and designer boutiques on New York's posh Madison Avenue. Blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the Frick, the hotel is within easy reach of what is commonly referred to as "Museum Mile." ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Carlyle a Rosewood Hotel
- The Carlyle a Rosewood Hotel