I have loved this hotel since the first moment I walked through the door.
Located in the upper seventies between Park and Madison, the 35 storey Carlyle, a beautiful Beaux-Arts building, is surrounded by expensive boutiques, including Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Prada, Lilly Pulitzer and the Apple store. Plus, it’s steps from some well-loved eateries like Serafina, Sant Ambroeus, and Café Boulud, and is close to a host of upscale galleries like Gagosian and Arader.
Mention you are staying here and people ooh and aah. Many dignitaries, royalty, heads of state and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, HRH The Prince of Wales, The Beatles, and Amy Winehouse have walked its corridors. Part of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts collection, it is run with slick confidence and superb service, still as glamorous and sophisticated as it ever was.
Yet there are some pitfalls which could easily be addressed in the way of refurbishment, but those did not take away the enjoyment and delight of staying here. If you are looking for cool and modern, forget it. The hotel is comfy, friendly, wonderfully located if you don’t mind being a bit further uptown, and just steps away from Central Park. Elderly ladies grace its tearoom whilst sipping martinis with flamboyant friends.
There is no doubt that some refurbishments are needed, and there are whispers of this happening soon. The service levels are high and the staff attentive, they are respectful and maintain polite and sometimes most amusing small talk while being able to make you feel like a welcome friend. If you can forgive a few small things, then the ambience, cosiness, glamour and being able to say ‘we are staying at The Carlyle’ should ensure you have a great stay.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Buffet breakfast
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Hotel credit
- US$100 Spa services credit or Café Carlyle, to be used during your stay
- 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.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
I arrived by taxi and was greeted by two smart, liveried doormen who were waiting outside under the heaters of the awning. They took my bags, and I was shown to reception where check-in was very quick, and I was asked if I wanted any reservations for dinner that night. From the outside, The Carlyle, recognisable from its black and gold awning, is very discreet. You enter into a small area where the concierge desk is in a room to the right, leading down steps into a beautiful lobby with highly polished black and white flooring, a geometric grey, black and beige rug, a sparkly chandelier, and a spectacular flower display of twiggy catkins. Pre-war Art Deco elegance is visible everywhere. Beautiful yellow sofas are set against the walls of the lobby, and you can see directly into their restaurant. From here, you are led to the elevators, just to the left of the lobby.
A comfy seating area with chairs, an ottoman and a lovely, ornate mirror above a real fireplace welcomes guests. I love the fact that the elevators have uniformed operators and from a security point of view, it’s wonderful. The décor is understated elegance, a mix of traditional and contemporary. The people in the lobby were dressed in beautiful suits, dresses and furs. A few elegant, older ladies exited as I arrived, chattering about an expensive gallery around the corner.
Rooms and suites
The hotel has 190 rooms and suites. I was upgraded to a tower room on the 21st floor, on the large size with two big sash windows overlooking Central Park. On arrival was an array of exquisite pastries presented under a little glass dome. The original, dark wood parquet floor remains, covered by a large rug. The room was furnished in a traditional style and featured a writing desk with a lamp and chair, a large chest of drawers, a flat screen TV, two separate chairs and a small table which had a vase of lovely fresh yellow tulips.
The king-sized bed had a cream, padded headboard, a good topper, beautiful linen sheets and fluffy pillows with my initials on the cases (which I wanted to take home but didn’t), and two bedside tables with an alarm clock. The walk-in cupboard had plenty of hanging space, a large safe, slippers, nice bathrobes and an umbrella. There was enough space in the wardrobe to store suitcases. Some of the suites I visited later are very contemporary, so be sure to request the style of the room you want to make sure it is what you like. Some suites also have grand pianos.
The spacious desk also had access to USB and plug points, and there were two converter plugs for UK to US/EU to US plugs in the drawer. It was snowy and extremely cold when I was in the city, and thankfully the heating worked well although it was a bit noisy, another issue that will hopefully be addressed in the pending renovations.
Most of the bathrooms in this hotel are small. Even in the newly decorated suites, this was the case. My bathroom was tiny and very mirrored, with a large window which afforded lots of natural daylight, a big bathtub/whirlpool, and a powerful shower in the bath. It had quite a bit of shelving and a large cupboard (with a very good hairdryer), but only one sink with a freestanding vanity mirror and hence not much room for toiletries. They provide the nicest amenities, including the hotel’s heavenly own brand of soap and ample supplies of Kiehl’s shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, lip balm, and delicious body cream, so nice that it prompted me to rush out and buy myself large bottles of the stuff.
I had breakfast in the main restaurant with a friend one morning: poached eggs on toast and coffee which was delicious. The restaurant is elegant, with extremely comfortable banquet seating. It was cosy and has incredible acoustics so you can at least hear yourself speak. Now under Chef Mark Richardson, the restaurant has a great reputation. It’s plush, opulent and it feels as if you are in a stately English home. Black and white photographs adorn the walls of guests past and present, including one of The Beatles with Muhammad Ali, and there is always the most enormous, wonderful flower arrangement in the centre of the room.
Other restaurant options
I had a glass of champagne in the Turkish-themed The Gallery one afternoon, where those looking for something more copious can enjoy a traditional English tea from 5.30pm daily. This restaurant leads into the Art Deco Bemelmans Bar, with its dark leather seating and nickel-trimmed, black, glass-topped tables. I had drinks later one evening here with some friends, famous for its beautiful murals painted by Ludwig Bemelmans, best known for his ‘Madeline’ books. A fabulous pianist and singer were entertaining the crowd amid claps of delight. Bemelmans also painted the murals in the Café Carlyle.
Spa and wellness
The gym at the hotel is very small but features Technogym equipment, and as the park is just a block away, an option those who like walking/running. The Sisley-Paris spa is beautiful and peaceful, and treatments such as facials and massages start at around $200.
They also have a very good Yves Durif hair and beauty salon. I had an excellent blow dry there one morning.
Children are very welcome at The Carlyle. Rosewood’s ‘Rose Buds’ is tailored for the young with an array of special services that includes everything from kids’ menus, child-sized bathrobes and slippers, Madeline’s Tea (available seasonally), and Erbaviva skincare products. They can also arrange in-room baby proofing services and everything else a baby requires, including babysitting on request.
Staff and service
The staff were superb from the lift attendants and housekeepers to the concierges, who were fun and entertaining and often feature on The Carlyle’s Instagram. The Carlyle offers good old fashioned service, polite and respectful.
Chic, well-dressed, elegant, glamorous people waltz around the lobby of the Carlyle. A mix of Europeans, Americans and South Americans for the most part. It is a hotel for families, businessmen and with the manned lifts, great for singles too.
I left early on a Saturday morning, and it all happened very quickly. They collected my luggage, the receptionist had my bill ready as I came down, and the doorman immediately got me a car and put my bags in the back. All seamlessly orchestrated.
How to get there
50 minutes from JFK International Airport
190 Rooms & Suites