The Plaza Athenée first opened its doors in 1984 and despite its 143 rooms and suites, feels like a chic European style, boutique property.
I love the location, on 64th Street between Park and Madison Avenue, close to Central Park and luxury Manhattan stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s, Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston, and Henri Bendel. It’s also just a short walk to the Frick, MOMA, and Rockefeller Centre; its location couldn’t be better. Combine this with Upper East Side living, traditional décor and super quiet rooms at the back of the hotel and you cannot go far wrong. Elizabeth Taylor favoured their Penthouse Suite when she was in NY and the suites are still sought after by low-key celebrities.
Owned by a Thai billionaire, there are parts of this hotel that could really be improved and updated: the carpets in the hallways and in the room I was allocated for example. Understandably, the hotel has a reputation for currently being a ‘bit tired’ and with the rates they charge, it needs to be addressed. Having said that, I was happy here as I have always loved this hotel and its location for good reason: the staff are wonderful and helpful and the rooms work well. It is very secure and especially for women travelling alone, probably one of the safest hotels in the city.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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You cannot miss the hotel with its bright red-domed awnings on 64th Street. I arrived in a taxi and was immediately met by two bellmen who opened the car door, took my luggage out of the boot, and helped me into the hotel where they escorted me to the check-in desk. First impressions are that you have walked into a traditional townhouse. The lobby is adorned with marble floors, gilt lamps, pretty statues and ornate gold mouldings that surround colourful canvases of murals of green countryside. There, a young receptionist welcomed me back (amazing since I have not stayed here for about 20 years), and said it had been ‘a long time’ since I had stayed. Impressive. She asked which complimentary newspaper I would like each morning and told me where the concierge was to be found, before a valet took me up to my room. My luggage arrived seconds later.
Rooms and suites
I was in a newly renovated room which was very nice and had a great view over the roof tops at the back of the hotel; very quiet because of its location. The room was large, extremely pretty with French Beaux Arts style furniture; a huge comfy bed; crisp Italian linen sheets; a warm comforter; lots of heavenly pillows; and a wonderful, soft mattress topper. Two large side tables with traditional lights with lampshades were next to each side of the bed. There were two chairs and a table to sit at under a large window (you could open) and a large work desk with chair. A large cupboard with mirrored doors and drawers plus another cupboard in the hallway to the bathroom offered ample storage and hanging space. There was a huge, almost ceiling to floor, gilt framed mirror on the wall at the entrance which was great when getting ready to go out. The safe (not big enough to hold a laptop) and a fully-stocked mini bar (miniatures, soft drinks, half a bottle of Champagne) were in one of the cupboards. A tray in an inset alcove of the cupboard had jars of M&Ms, mixed nuts, mini Twix and cookies, together with large bottles of Fiji water, all chargeable. On arrival, a small tray held some delicious complimentary Ladurée macaroons, together with a welcome note. If, like me, you don’t care for ratty old carpets in hotel rooms, opt for one of the larger suites that have have cherry wood floors with rugs, balconies or terraces, and fully equipped kitchenettes.
In room technology and functionality was good. A flat screen TV was set above the desk with all international channels and the usual, 1000-odd US channels. The curtains had pull-down black-out shades, net curtains and then heavy drapes. There were plenty of plugs by the desk and bedside tables but no USB points. The WiFi was high-speed and the mobile signal was good throughout the hotel. The air con was soft but you can hear it blowing gently. There was a wall clock as well as an electric/alarm/radio clock/old style iPod dock, which needs to be updated.
The bathroom was brand new and really beautiful; a good size for two people to share, with heated marble floors, a separate shower unit with a rainfall showerhead, and a handheld shower. The large tub had gold taps, ready for a resplendent soak. And a double vanity with traditional, deep basins offered plenty of counter top space for makeup and toiletry bags. Hallelujah, a bathroom that’s practical. The loo was in the bathroom. The pretty bathrobes were white and fluffy, waffle with towelling inside, and the amenities, Penhaligon, included soaps, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. The hair dryer was ok but very loud and whiny. The lighting was excellent with an illuminated shaving/beauty magnifying mirror and a frosted window which did allow plenty of natural daylight.
I had continental breakfast each morning which consisted of a pastry basket with lovely croissants, Danish pastries, a pain au chocolat and two different muffins. The juice was fresh and delicious and the coffee came in a jug/flask which meant it was very hot when poured. All was beautifully presented on a trolley with a crisp white linen table cloth and large napkins, as it should be.
Later that morning, I had a cup of coffee and my friend had Earl Grey tea and a croissant in the bar downstairs (which set me back $40; a bit steep) and again the coffee was hot and delicious. The gold domed Arabelle restaurant at the back of the hotel is in a small, intimate dining room but it is just so old fashioned in décor, that I took one look inside and chose to head out elsewhere for dinner. Having said that, its reputation for excellent, organic food and a great wine list is strong, so if you are a foodie then give it a try.
I love the Bar Seine, with its dark leather flooring, velvet décor, animal prints and comfy chairs and I often use it as a meeting place for a drink in the evenings when I am in the city. It is very dark and cosy with a good vibe and buzzy ambiance at night. In the summer, I had the most delicious mojito here served in a copper mug. Afternoon tea is also served here from 2.30-5.30pm each day. Everything I have ever had in this hotel has always been beautifully presented and promptly served.
Spa and wellness
The hotel’s Spa Valmont is on the second floor down a bit of a dingy corridor which really needs redoing as it leads into a nice spa area. This is the only hotel spa in NYC to carry Valmont products created in Switzerland in 1985. They have four very beautifully soothing, Asian themed treatment rooms, each with its own bathroom and steam shower. Treatments on offer include facials starting at $200, massages from $250 for 60 minutes and other treatments including Thai massage and reflexology.
There is a 24-hour gym which is fully equipped with a treadmill, elliptical and cycle machine.
Children and pets (small dogs) are welcome! You are very close to the Central Park Zoo here which is delightful for small children, with its penguins and little red pandas.
Staff and service
The staff are all absolutely charming. There was always a doorman or two to open doors and exchange some friendly banter. As soon as you step through the entrance to the hotel, you are greeted by a couple of security men (somewhat of a comforting thing in this day and age), monitoring who is coming in and out. The concierge team were incredibly helpful, recommending a really good hair salon and makeup artist, Yann Varin, around the corner from the hotel for a blow dry, and they picked a good, local French restaurant for me one night for dinner. The staff at the Bar Seine were super friendly and I was always asked if I had everything I wanted.
Smart, chic and a well dressed clientele, mainly Americans and Europeans. Some older clients in the dining room at lunch time, enjoying themselves. This is not a cool scene but it attracts a loyal clientele and they have a high repeat business, as expected.
I checked out seamlessly at 10am and requested to store my luggage for the day so I could venture out shopping. I collected my bags later, was wished a safe onward journey by the staff in the lobby and helped by the doorman who quickly skirted off to Madison Avenue to get me a taxi.
How to get there
45 minutes from JFK International Airport
117 Rooms & Suites