Hotel Review: The Pierre, Upper East Side, NYC in the USA
The magic of New York is hardly new, but the exciting breed of luxury hotels here never gets old. Set on the corner of Central Park south on the Upper East Side, The Pierre’s long and glamorous history sets the precedence for the sheer elegance on offer today, but it’s more recent transformation (following its sale to Taj Hotels) has really raised the bar and propelled the establishment to the forefront of the New York hospitality scene.
Let’s be honest, that old school hospitality never goes out of style, and while London has The Ritz and The Savoy, New York has The Pierre. A big fan of that classic elegance, I was ridiculously excited to stay here. As my fiancé Joel and I stepped into the elaborate foyer, our conversation fizzled out as we looked around in wonder, taking in our surroundings and noticing the chequered marble floor, low-hanging crystal chandeliers, ornate ceiling and dazzling displays of fresh flowers.
We are quietly welcomed and ushered to a team of polite and friendly Les Clefs d’Or Concierge (an elite organisation of the best concierges in the world) who happily tell us during a swift check in that they’re on hand for anything from booking our dinner or shopping trip, to lending us the hotel’s complimentary Jaguar to ferry us to and from appointments in style. We try not to look too impressed.
On the way up to our room, we’re treated to our first taste of The Pierre’s commitment to five star service. And it’s delicious. White-gloved attendants in full uniform operate the wood-panelled elevators 24 hours a day, a time-honoured touch of luxury that has been all but forgotten elsewhere in New York.
Rumour has it that the private apartments at The Pierre were owned by the New York elite back in the day, with Elizabeth Taylor and Yves Saint Laurent laying claim to a room here. For a slither of the A-lister action yourself, book yourself a suite overlooking the park, as we did. Indeed this spectacular view is the hotel’s crowning glory.
First things first, Joel and I explore our beautiful room. The colour palette is light and airy with the dark wood furniture lifted by fabrics in cream and pale blue hues. An Indian silk quilt covers the bed, serving as a nod to the Taj Hotel’s heritage. A pillow-top mattress will impress us later that night with its divine comfort, which made us both dream we were floating in a cloud over Central Park.
In the en suite bathroom, Turkish marble prevails, even covering the walls. The luxury Etro bath products are perfect for soaking in the tub after a long day exploring, while the terry cloth bathrobes, slippers and fluffy oversized towels pass my personal – and highly critical – softness test with flying colours.
Room services, as you’d expect, are top notch – with twice daily housekeeping, Bose home theatre systems, complimentary clothes pressing, shoe shine, laundry, dog amenities, a packing/unpacking service and 24-hour room service. Elsewhere is a fitness centre and hair salon. The hotel doesn’t have a spa, but in room treatments can be booked. A few hours after we’d checked in, a plate of delicious treats was sent up for us, with a chocolate statue of the Empire State Building, an edible taxi and macarons.
Soon enough, cocktail hour is upon us and we know better than to ignore cocktail hour in New York. Dressed to impress, we make our way to the Two E Bar, so named for the hotel’s address, 2 East 61st Street. The Neo Classical lounge has no windows, creating a luxe and intimate space where you can socialise and make your way through an exciting cocktail menu. Originally the gentleman’s lounge, the bar now serves the hotel’s signature afternoon teas by day, and turns into a sexy bar by night, with live jazz on Thursdays and Sundays.
Once Joel and I had seen off an expertly crafted Hudson Dirty Martini and a wickedly strong Antique Fashion respectively, we pointed our feet towards The Pierre’s secret weapon, its fine dining restaurant, Perrine. Helmed by Chef Ashfer Biju, the eatery has a wide and intriguing selection of dishes, with inventive seasonal offerings sitting alongside the classics. The tuna tartare and Perrine salad are excellent choices for starters, while our main courses of lamb chops and black sea bass were equally triumphant.
For desert we’re sure nothing could beat the apple tart tatin with apple cider caramel ice cream and it has become the standard by which we now measure all apple tart tatins by. The cherry on top of our gorgeous evening at Perrine is our wonderful waiter who patiently allows us to sip our way through the wine list, after recommending we try some of his favourite Californian red wines. Should you be lucky enough to visit during warmer months, you can enjoy your meal out on the Rose Terrace, which overlooks the park and even allows dogs.
The next morning, once we’d woken from our fluffy white cloud and devoured a stack of pancakes and a strong black coffee in Perrine (where breakfast service is every bit as faultless as dinner’s) we couldn’t imagine a better base to explore to city from. With Central Park and the Pulitzer Fountain on our doorstep, as well as all Fifth Avenue’s designer stores, such as Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman, we were ideally positioned to take advantage of New York.
Should you require any assistance whatsoever (seriously, one concierge even dropped to his knee to tie my shoelaces!), the hotel’s ever eager staff are on hand, with a dedicated guest relations team, valet parking, a multilingual reception, secreterial services and even a theatre desk to book you into the city’s hottest shows and ensure your trip is second to none.
Before we depart The Pierre, we’d heard we must visit the rotunda. The beautifully painted trompe l’oeil mural is very Renaissance looking, despite only dating back to the sixties and we craned our necks to admire the moulded ceiling and fabulous drawings. This is an events space but also a rather darling spot to sit and nurse a cocktail or some sandwiches at teatime.
You can certainly expect to be treated like royalty from the get-go at The Pierre. A rather grown up aura is on offer within these walls, with a hushed elegance that makes everything seem easy and nothing too much trouble. You get the feeling that Madonna or Robert De Niro might wander in at any moment, but that even if they did, no-one would bat an eyelid, for this is hardly an unusual occurrence at The Pierre. The discrete luxury and timeless elegance of the place make you wonder if everyone is just a nameless millionaire.
As the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star rated property on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, we think it’s little wonder The Pierre has such as esteemed reputation amoung well-heeled New Yorkers. One of the things we remember most clearly from our stay is our interactions with the staff. One even sent us home with some Forget Me Not seeds from Central Park, so that we can grow in our garden and be reminded of our trip. We certainly feel we’ve found our little slice of home in the big city.
Rooms from £ 269 per night at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel
Address: Two East 61st Street at 5th Avenue, New York 10065, United States.
Phone: 001 212 838 800