Upper Madison Avenue, New York City
The official lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in Manhattan last night signifies the official start of the December holiday season. What better time to visit New York than when the entire city transforms itself into a holiday winter wonderland of lights and design for all ages; and what better choice of hotels to choose than The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, upper Madison Avenue’s chic purveyor of luxury and refined taste?
Surrounded by galleries and designer boutiques on New York’s posh Madison Avenue and 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 the ‘Museum Mile.’ Named after Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle in 1930, The Carlyle was originally opened as a residential hotel – apartments costing up to $20,000 for the year. As New York apartment hotels became increasingly popular after World War I, this thirty-five-floor hotel was designed for a new lifestyle model – with shops and restaurants on the lower floors providing a sense of community and convenience for the residents in the skyscraper above. Sound familiar?
The Carlyle has maintained its status of exclusive ambience in an Upper East Side pied-à-terre. With just 188 rooms and suites among the hotel’s 60 residential apartments, the combination luxury and residential hotel commands a stunning view of Central Park. Originally designed by Dorothy Draper, The Carlyle was revamped by Thierry Despont in 2002 – adding a contemporary panache to Draper’s classic elegance.
Over the years, The Carlyle has hosted an endless parade of the rich and famous, including world leaders. From Truman on forward, every U.S. President has at one time or another stayed at The Carlyle; even gaining the title of ‘New York White House’ during the administration of John F. Kennedy, who owned an apartment of the 34th floor for the last ten years of his life. Rumor has it that Marilyn Monroe was quietly escorted through the service entrance after her infamous ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ performance at Madison Square Garden in May of 1962. Despite its brushes with history, the hotel has retained a reputation of discretion. The New York Times called it a ‘Palace of Secrets.”
The Carlyle Restaurant, a long-time favorite amount the social set, was designed in an English manor house style, serving up luxury and intimacy alongside its famous Dover Sole and Lobster Thermidor. Dine at The Carlyle Restaurant to rub elbows with socialites, politicians and the producers of fashion magazines. Bemelmans Bar is the favorite neighborhood bar of Upper East Siders where artist & author Ludwig Bemelman’s childhood fantasies, including Madeline, set the tone for this beloved venue. Café Carlyle has made an indelible mark on the New York cabaret scene since opening in 1955. Bobby Short, the most well loved performer of New York, called Café Carlyle here from 1968 to 2004, placing him and this destination on the map as a top draw for entertainment options when visiting New York.
December is my favorite time of year to visit New York. The twinkling of lights, the pulse of the city and the wide variety of seasonal décor invoke a sense of celebration. From the classic window displays of Lord & Taylor or Saks Fifth Ave to the opulence of Barney’s satirical windows or Cartier’s strobe light enhanced opening of its enormous signature red box over the doorway, Manhattan is ‘over the top’ with style and design this month. Get out the scarves – it’s time for a New York holiday getaway.