The Pierre - A Taj Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls

Built in 1930, The Pierre features a stately neo-Georgian exterior and ornately detailed interiors. Every inch of this rotunda is covered in trompe l'oeil paintings.

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Iconic Hotels in New York (1 of 21)

 Built in 1930, The Pierre features a stately neo-Georgian exterior and ornately detailed interiors. Every inch of this rotunda is covered in trompe l'oeil paintings.
Built in 1930, The Pierre features a stately neo-Georgian exterior and ornately detailed interiors. Every inch of this rotunda is covered in trompe l'oeil paintings. The checkered marble and chandeliers in the Pierre's lobby evoke classic New York elegance. But Taj Resorts and Palaces, a growing Indian-owned luxury hotel group, took over the Pierre's 140 guest rooms and 49 suites from the Four Seasons in 2005. They headed up its massive, $100 million, 15-month renovation (the hotel just re-opened in 2009) and added a few distinctly Indian touches -- some furniture and colorful silks in the guest rooms and artwork from Indian artists in the lobby. But the overall look of the Pierre is not so much East meets West as it is Old New York made new. Made apparent by its extravagant entrance, the century-old Plaza hotel is synonymous with New York luxury. Countless 20th-century icons have passed through this ornate lobby since the hotel opened in 1907. Truman Capote threw his famous Black and White Ball here; in North by Northwest, Cary Grant was captured by spies in the hotel's famous Oak Bar; on their first visit to the states, the Beatles took up an entire wing on the 15th floor. Built in 1926, and named after the finest French restaurant at the time, the Elysee lobby still evokes its Francophile roots. The hotel became a long-term residence for movie stars, authors, and musicians. Marlon Brando had a suite, now named "Sayonara" after his role in Teahouse of the August Moon'.' In 1983, writer Tennessee Williams died in the Sunset suite, after having written much of his late material while living in the hotel. World-renowned pianist Vladimir Horowitz moved a Steinway baby grand piano into the hotel when he took up temporary residence. Upon checkout, he famously shrugged at the hotel's manager and said, "Keep it." (The piano remains in the Presidential suite to this day.) During the Great Depression, the Elysee's Monkey Bar was the go-to place for A-list eccentrics. Even today, it features 70-year-old hand-painted murals depicting monkeys sitting by a Christmas tree, riding an elephant, mixing up banana daiquiris, and other non-simian behavior. Performers such as Johnny Payne and Mel Martin famously performed songs riddled with double entendres. The glamorous Art Deco decor has also inspired numerous marriage proposals, silver anniversary celebrations, and a notable hook-up scene between Carrie and Mr. Big on Sex and the City. Inside the Club Room on the second floor of the Elysee, actress Tallulah Bankhead held a five-day nonstop party to celebrate Harry Truman's hotly contested 1948 presidential election. Today, the homey space serves breakfast every day, afternoon cookies with coffee and tea, and early evening wine and cheese -- all complimentary. The lobby is filled with gold flourishes, columns, marble, chandeliers, and statues. Minimalist or subtle the Palace is not. The lobby is filled with gold flourishes, columns, marble, chandeliers, and statues. Minimalist or subtle the Palace is not. The lobby is filled with gold flourishes, columns, marble, chandeliers, and statues. Minimalist or subtle the Palace is not. It's hard not to find the Algonquin's idiosyncrasies and old-world style endearing -- from the hotel cat, Matilda, roaming the property to the hallways wallpapered with New Yorker cartoons, to the old brass mail chutes still used today. This handsome oak-paneled Edwardian lobby is akin to a billionaire's private library -- and after the hotel's $4.5 million renovation in 2008, it even boasts free Wi-Fi. Built in 1902, the Washington Square Hotel has a storied past. In its previous incarnation it was Hotel Earle, a rundown resident hotel offering cheap shelter for famous writers and musicians during their struggling-artist years. Dylan Thomas was a frequent guest, and former occupant Bo Diddley even returned to play at the opening of this new lobby. Bob Dylan lived in Room 305, back when bohemian Greenwich Village was home to beatnik coffeehouses. The Carlyle figures into New York's annals as host (and residence) of local and international celebrities, including an impressive run of presidential guests. Discreet staff members, like this white-gloved elevator operator, are known to keep some impressive secrets -- Kennedy and Marilyn reportedly trusted their affair to the Carlyle. The Palace's famous facade, originally constructed as a private mansion in 1882, twinkles among a sea of midtown skyscrapers. The original building was made into a hotel in 1980, at which time the 55-story hotel tower was added to make way for the 900 rooms. The lobby is filled with gold flourishes, columns, marble, chandeliers, and statues. Minimalist or subtle the Palace is not. The Jumeirah Essex House is a large, luxurious Art Deco icon, and its purchase and $90 million renovation by the Jumeirah Group in 2006 helped restore it to its former glory. The lobby, with its elaborate floral arrangements and marble columns, is grand, and evokes a more glamorous time, when men wore hats and women wore gloves. Built in 1925, the Gramercy Park Hotel is steeped in history -- Humphrey Bogart got married here and the bar was a favorite haunt for Babe Ruth. In 2006, having recruited the artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel as interior designer, Ian Schrager reopened the Gramercy Park Hotel, offering a redesign heavy on velvet, old-world goods -- like the matador's jacket in the lobby -- and world-class art from Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. A unique feature of the hotel is the private (meaning locked) and beautifully manicured Gramercy Park. Only those who live on the park -- and hotel guests -- are allowed access. Today, the Gramercy Park Hotel continues to draw notable names to its swanky bars.
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