Results 11-14of 14 Reviews
June 25, 2006
June 9, 2006
by smmmarti guide
October 24, 2004
Disturbing memories of Mrs. Helmsley’s misdeeds compounded the misunderstanding, and I nearly canceled the reservation. However, Manhattan was overbooked for the three-day weekend by that time. I was forced to relax and look on the bright side--at least I had a reservation.
Rather than the views of Central Park I’d imagined, I had a bird’s eye view of the spires of St. Patrick’s and VIP treatment in the concierge lounge. It took about ten minutes to get over my disappointment, when the words "new ownership" and "Le Cirque" were mentioned by the multi-lingual concierge who checked us in and guaranteed our wish was her command.
"Dinner at Le Cirque?"
"Eight or 8:30?"
"Bombay Dream tickets?"
"Matinee or evening? Orchestra or balcony?"
I was beginning to like it here already.
The Palace rises 55 floors above Madison Avenue, sharing "air space" above the Villard Houses, a complex of town homes built in 1892 by financier Henry Villard. After paying an exorbitant price for the property directly across from St. Patrick’s cathedral, Mr. Villard unfortunately went bankrupt before moving into the grand estate. The property was eventually bought by the Archdiocese of New York, its use changing from residential to office and back again throughout the years.
Rather than demolish the Renaissance Revival buildings, the Helmsleys bought air rights and built around them in the late seventies. From 1980 to 1993, the hotel was known as the Helmsley Palace, but after the namesakes met their unfortunate fate, new owners took over and embarked on an extensive renovation.
The hotel does its best to retain the elegance established in the original courtyard residences. The lobby is replete with sweeping marble stairs, room-sized fireplace, and lush décor. Rooms are very spacious and well-equipped with truly luscious robes, in-room wireless internet, spa amenities, and a VIP lounge serving complimentary breakfast, snacks, drinks, canapés and desserts. The 7,000-square-foot spa and fitness center removes any excuse for missing your workout, as exercise shoes and garb are available at no charge.
My favorite spot to roost in the posh hotel was outdoors, in the brisk October air circulating through the Villard Houses courtyard. Unlike the interior of the hotel, which seems cramped in some corners, overblown in others, the Italianate courtyard offers proportion, grace, and a sense of scale. Themes from neighboring Le Cirque are repeated in the topiaries, whimsical animals illuminated by Italian lights.
Across the street, the great cathedral of St. Patrick’s stands sentinel. I couldn’t help thinking how things may have turned out differently for Leona had she stopped in the cathedral on her way to work. I thought it over, then went inside to light a candle.
I was just giving thanks, praying I’d return again soon to New York and the Palace.
From journal Man-oh-man-hattan!
New York, New York
October 5, 2000
Dripping with Napoleonesque, The Palace is close to midtown shopping at places like Crate and Barrel,
Bloomingdales, and Saks. The style of the hotel is what could be called
maximalist: carpets are studded with imperial motifs, the furniture is heavy,
dark and rich, and the marble lobby looks like the designer just couldn’t
decide between about a dozen colors of marble. Minimalist chic is miles
away, and the luxurious appointments of the rooms make it easy to relax and
unwind. The rooms are large, often with nice views of various skyscrapers in
the area, and the bed was appointed with fabulous linen. But for a place
that charges five bucks for a tiny bottle of Coke from the room fridge,
certain details were disappointing. The bathrooms are small and dull,
despite the gold fixtures, and the weekend I was there, the in-room movie
service didn’t work.
From journal New York Quickie