“In one of our iconic duplex suites, the one that was favored by Elizabeth Taylor, breakfast on the terrace is the best place to admire a New York sunrise over Queens and Brooklyn,” explained Anne-Juliette Maurice, general manager at Hotel Plaza Athenee New York. In an interview, we discussed the history of the hotel, its intimate feel and ambiance, their new Art in Motion program, and much more.
Tell me a little bit about the history of Hotel Plaza Athenee and how its reputation evolved over the years into a luxury hotel for guests that regularly include A-list celebrities, royalty and more.
The Hotel Plaza Athenee is 30 years old. If it creates this feeling of being in a home more than in a hotel, it is the quality of the services that makes the difference.
We are very fortunate to see many of our guests returning, sometimes a few times a year. Our personnel knows them, and the guests know us. We have had the chance to develop a personal relationship with them. Whether they are tourists, business people, actors or royals, they know this is their New York home.
Despite having 142 luxury rooms and suites, the hotel maintains the atmosphere of a boutique. What are some ways in which you’re able to create that sense of intimacy?
The intimacy comes from both the layout of the hotel and the atmosphere we want to infuse in it. The lobby for example is intimate. The bar and the restaurant are very cozy. Our hotel spa even is limited to four complete suites, each with its own Sauna bathroom. The rooms are large, and the suites are all equipped with a kitchenette. Most of them can connect to other rooms; many offer a terrace with astounding views on New York’s so diverse architecture. We want to be a palace that welcomes everyone.
A few weeks ago the hotel launched “Art in Motion”, which will exhibit works by Matisse and Picasso as well as original printer’s proofs and signed lithographs of modern artists from the private collection of the Mourlot Archives & Galerie Mourlot. How did this relationship begin, and how is this partnership different from other hotel experiences?
This is the perfect example of unique experiences that we always look for. Let’s surprise our guests. “With Art in Motion,” the idea was to celebrate this winter’s exceptional “Cut-Outs” by Matisse exhibition at MoMa by inviting the Galerist Eric Mourlot to create a one of a kind exhibition at the hotel. The idea of “Art in Motion” was to exhibit in the suites some of Mourlot’s most exclusive lithographs, but only the guests of each suite can enjoy one of these masterpieces. For everyone else, we have exhibited two very rare Picasso lithographs in our lobby, along with letters and photographs – and two Matisses from the Jazz Collection, which are also shown at MoMa.
The two-floor penthouses are truly one of a kind. With one frequented by Elizabeth Taylor and the other by Diana, Princess of Wales, they stand out in a crowd of ultra-luxury suites near Central Park. How would you describe their uniqueness?
These two iconic duplex suites are a mix of a typical Upper East Side apartment and a townhouse. The first floor of each suite is composed of a large living and of a grand dining room. The first floor can also connect to another bedroom. A staircase leads the guest to a charming bedroom that opens to a winter terrace and a very large outdoor terrace. From there, you can a have a 180-degree view on Manhattan’s rooftops. From the suite facing the West side, the guests can enjoy an aperitif in front a New York sunset while over looking Central Park. From the other suite, the one that was favored by Elizabeth Taylor, breakfast on the terrace is the best place to admire a New York sunrise over Queens and Brooklyn.
What are your top 5 recommendations for experiencing the hotel and all it has to offer, as well as the surrounding area?
Choose your suite based on your taste; they are all completely different. Many have a terrace; the Thai suite offers a South East Asia feel; and the Manhattan terrace is very contemporary. Enjoy our V35 Certified Valmont Spa, the only one in the United States.
At the Bar Seine, ask for one of our house New York style cocktails. At Arabelle, you will enjoy the bounty of the region, and on Sundays one of New York’s most exclusive brunches. Ask our concierges to help you make your stay in the city unique. And Last but not least, we are steps away from Central Park, the museum mile and one of the most amazing shopping avenues in the world.