two New York City luxury hotels

I made site inspections of two newly renovated hotels while in New York over Thanksgiving. As promised, here are my impressions.

The Pierre, located at Fifth Avenue and E. 61st Street, offers 189 guest rooms and 49 suites. The property is "owned" by the residents of the private apartments found within the hotel and managed for them by Taj Hotels, a hotel chain based in India. The hotel has two elegant entrances, and I was especially struck by the beautiful polished marble floors.

The renovated rooms have high ceilings and an attractive ivory color scheme. Elegant Indian fabrics are used for the bedding, and the effect is quite pleasant (see above). The most desirable rooms look over the buildings of the Upper East Side and offer a stunning view of Central Park. My one criticism of the property would be the bathrooms; they offer only a single, small rectangular vanity, barely larger than the sink. In my view, these do not provide enough surface area on which to place even one traveler's toiletries. Dual vanities are becoming the standard in five star hotels, and couples may have difficulty with the limited counter space at the Pierre.

The Plaza Athenee on E. 64th Street has long been one of my favorite hotels in New York. Located on a residential street, it offers understated but gracious service. Its one drawback had been its smallish rooms and old-fashioned, tiny bathrooms, but those limitations are now a thing of the past. In the extensive renovation, closets and long hallways have been taken out, creating more space for the guest rooms and, especially, for the bathrooms. Built-ins have replaced closets, and glass-enclosed step-in showers replace the old "shower in the tub with shower curtain." Especially impressive are new Suites, featuring a hardwood-floored living room with kitchenette and powder room, separated by a door from the bedroom.

The new aesthetic is classic contemporary, both in the restyled bathrooms and in the guestrooms. I noticed especially that the old formal draperies have been replaced with very tasteful, contemporary fabrics. My one criticism is that much of the old bedroom furniture is still being used in the guestrooms. Perhaps replacing the hard goods will be a future project once we have moved past the current economic slowdown.

Both the Pierre and the Plaza Athenee are members of Virtuoso, and guests enjoy competitive rates along with complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, and additional perks when booked through a Virtuoso luxury travel consultant.

Virtuoso luxury travel consultant (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2009 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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