I was greeted at The Plaza Hotel by a note from Eloise. Crookedly scribbled in purple crayon was the message: “Dear Dylan, I hope you enjoy your stay in New York City. xoxo Eloise.” For those of you unfamiliar with Eloise, she’s one of The Plaza Hotel’s most famous fictional residents. Originally dreamt up by author Kay Thompson, her story (one of my absolute childhood favorites) is that she lives at the legendary hotel with her nanny, her pug Weenie, and her turtle Skipperdee. Of course, Eloise causes trouble all over the sprawling hotel as any six-year-old would be expected to, from pouring water down the mail chutes to using the hallways as her personal playroom.
Today, Eloise has her own dedicated suite at The Plaza, which was designed by Betsy Johnson. In fact, there’s an entire gift shop dedicated to her in the concourse level of the hotel, where you’ll also find a gourmet dining hall with everything from pastries made with 20 paper-thin crêpes from Lady M Confections to boat-to-table seafood at Luke’s Lobster.
You see, whether it’s your Eloise moment (in my case), your birthday moment, your anniversary moment, or whatever you happen to be celebrating, The Plaza Hotel lets you live it out in all its glory. As one of the most iconic hotels in the world located in one of the most iconic cities in the world and on one of the most iconic blocks in the world (it’s sandwiched between Fifth Avenue and Central Park), the layers of luxury are as rich as the Lady M pastries in its dining hall.
Adding to this is the fact that The Plaza underwent a $450 million renovation from 2005 to 2008 (during which time the Fairmont Hotel group began managing the property), receiving basement-to-roof reconstruction. The major changes included converting part of the hotel to private residences as well as bringing the infrastructure of the nearly 100-year-old building up to date. So during my recent two-night stay, I was on a mission to answer the following question: Would Eloise approve of The Plaza 2.0?
My investigation started after I checked in to one of the hotel’s legacy suites, which was designed by New York-based Champalimaud Design to resemble the elegance of an Upper East Side home. Upon entering the space, I was immediately struck by how light and modern the room felt in comparison to the baroque Palm Court in the hotel’s lobby, where I had enjoyed high tea and an ‘Eloise Rootbeer Float’ before checking in. Mirrored-glass tables, pastel rugs, abstract art, a velvet couch, and a jaw-dropping chandelier made the room feel luxurious but fresh. Meanwhile, the bathroom – with its 24-karat gold tiles, faucets, and doorknobs – retained a posh feel, a nod to the hotel’s medieval French chateau opulence.
Should I have required more space, which I certainly did not, The Plaza also offers the option of booking the palatial 4,500-square-foot Royal Suite. This three-bedroom apartment, with private elevator access and a dramatic rooftop balcony overlooking Fifth Avenue, has provided celebrities and royalty alike with a good night’s sleep. And that’s the beauty of The Plaza; whether it’s F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920s, The Beatles in the 1960s, or Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2, opting for a stay here guarantees not only luxury but also a place in the rich narrative of one of New York City’s most beloved properties. Eloise would most certainly give that her pink rubber stamp of approval.