From The Carlyle, on 76th street, the walk south down Madison is absolutely fascinating. Ralph Lauren already has its Christmas decoration windows – see above – and what looks like a one-time bank is now a busy Apple Store, at 74th Street. The gal was actually on the way down 48th Street, just east of Park Avenue, for lunch at The Barclay, which celebrates 30 years as an InterContinental next month. Anyone who remembers the hotel at that time will immediately think of the lobby’s bird cage, with real song birds which must have driven front desk mad after a time.
Now the focal point to the left of the lobby, as you go in, is a prominent two-sided gin bar, with well over 80 bottles. To the right of the lobby, three separate front-desk pods, each with two agents, offer more flexilibity, and quicker check-in – yes, says the hotel’s suave sartorialist MD, Hervé Houdré, check-in by devices will come, and soon, but it is not there yet. He told me about the hotel’s really commendable community initiatives, which include offering rooms, if available, to abused women who suddenly need a bed – the hotel works, in all, with 15 different charities, and its sustainability culture definitely attracts the important meetings business. Over 90 percent of meetings planners apparently ask what a hotel does for good.
I was really happy to see the Club Continental lounge, leading right off the lobby. At $100 surcharge a day, per room, it seemed amazingly good value, especially since alcohol is included. As Hervé Houdré says, breakfast for two in this Sky High breakfast tariff city can easily go into three digits (for the record, one breakfast I have had on this trip, no juice but coffee, plain yoghurt, no-sides eggs and toast, was $62, with spaces to write in gratuities both for the captain and the server). The lounge also has nightly themed cocktail buffets, grand enough for a full meal, apparently – and on your way out, listen to the lobby’s live jazz.
The big surprise, however, is the luxury hotel’s new Penthouse Suite, added to the rooftop and opened only this April. Designed Charbel Kallab, from Beirut, it is absolutely gorgeous, 3,000 sq ft inside with a 1,500 sq ft private terrace. You have two bedrooms, one gym (and I am sure that for the $25,000 you are paying, per night, access to the Club Continental lounge is thrown in). If you cannot stay there, at least watch the video, below.