The St Regis opened 110 years ago, in 1904, making it one of New York’s most historic properties.
It has hosted many of the world’s rich and powerful – even Salvador Dali took up long-term residence here, along with his pet ocelot. The opulent Beaux Arts hotel was built by business magnate John Jacob Astor IV, who later died on the Titanic.
A Starwood hotel, it has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation, which has so far encompassed all of the bedrooms, the restaurant, bar and ballroom.
The meeting venues will be transformed by September, a new gym will open this year, and the spa will follow in 2015.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The new design concept is “timeless yet modern”. The lavish marble and gold interiors, reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, have been lovingly restored, and contemporary touches such as flatscreen TVs and free wifi added.
On arrival, doormen rush to help with luggage; after ascending a flight of red-carpeted steps, you enter a high-ceilinged lobby with gilded mirrors, cherubs, murals and fresh floral displays.
Opposite reception are four old-fashioned lifts and the hotel’s “million-dollar staircase”, winding up 16 floors (the property now rises to level 20, although there is no floor 13).
WHERE IS IT?
In Midtown, on 55th and Fifth Avenue, a two-minute walk from Central Park. Most rooms are city facing but some, including the Presidential, Royal and Imperial suites, offer views of the park.
Even standard Superior rooms (starting at a generous 40 sqm) are beautifully grand, with chandeliers, mirrored panels, silk wall coverings, marble bathrooms, and antique-style furniture. All have walk-in showers, and some also have baths.
There are three colour schemes – royal blue, aubergine and deep red. Amenities include sumptuous beds, Bose sound systems, minibars, free bottled water, sofas and bowls of chocolates on glass coffee tables.
I stayed in a 42 sqm Deluxe room, which was very comfortable. As you’d expect, the higher the room category, the more extravagant the space, features and amenities.
If you can afford it (from US$10,500 a night plus tax), you can stay in one of the hotel’s stunning designer suites, designed by Tiffany, Bentley and Dior.
Every guest receives 24-hour butler service, which includes packing and unpacking, pressing of two garments, and tea or coffee on arrival. You can also avail of the 2013 custom Bentley Mulsanne courtesy car (within a ten-block radius).
Needless to say, you’ll be expected to tip generously.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The street-level King Cole bar, which features a giant 1930s oil painting by Maxfield Parrish, is where the Bloody Mary was invented.
The adjacent King Cole Salon restaurant is more or less an extension of the lobby, and guests previously passed through it to reach the bar.
Although now sectioned off, the open-plan space still feels a little exposed and the hard lines of the dark modern furniture are a little out of place with the Baroque décor.
Dinner was a bit disappointing – the starter of vegan kale Caesar salad (US$19) was essentially a handful of unchopped leaves, while the “nizza” flatbread with spicy eggplant, goat’s cheese and rocket (US$15) was also underwhelming.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The St Regis has close to 1,500 sqm of palatial meeting space.
Of the 15 venues, the largest is Versailles, for 250 people standing, closely followed by the vaulted Roof ballroom and Penthouse for 220 delegates.
There is a lobby-level salon and, below, the spa with four treatment rooms. The modest 24-hour fitness room, which has free weights and machines but no daylight, will be relocated to the 19th floor.
The steam room was cold, the showers had plastic curtains and the carpeted gym smelt of sweat, so the revamp will be very welcome. Central Park is great for running.
Even for New York, this is an expensive hotel. However, you can expect the most luxurious facilities (in almost all instances) and the very best service.
Already an exceptional five-star property, once the renovations are complete, it will be even better.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 171 rooms (39 Superior, 50 Deluxe, 82 Grand Luxe) and 67 suites (13 Astor, ten Executive Deluxe, 13 Madison, nine St Regis, 11 Fifth Avenue, four Grand, one Milano, three Designer, and three Master).
- HIGHLIGHTS The desirable Fifth Avenue location close to Central Park, the opulent décor, the butler and Bentley service for all guests, and the impressive heritage.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in July started from US$870 for a Superior room.
- CONTACT St Regis, 2 East 55th Street at Fifth Avenue; tel +1 212 753 4500; stregisnewyork.com