It’s no coincidence this hotel shares a name with one of Paris’ great Boulevards—this midtown gem feels more akin to quarters of the Grand Palais than the Seagram’s Building. Yet, unlike a Parisian establishment, the Hotel Elysée is spacious and far from cramped. Marble floors and décor evoking Napoleon, the Hotel Elysée is a turn-of-the-century (the last one) establishment that’s stood the test of time and was once home to Tennessee Williams, Ava Gardner, Joe DiMaggio, Vladimir Horowitz, and Marlon Brando. It certainly stands out amid the steel-and-glass neighboring environs. Also home to the iconic Monkey Bar, the Elysée maintains a certain swagger. Part of the Library Hotels Collection, the value-to-amenities ratio is quite high (even if it’s in a higher price point than its sister spaces).
Rooms have a classic European feel, with wooden headboards, rich carpeting underfoot and—in a few cases—fireplaces, tubs, and balconies. Hand-painted elevators opening onto stately wallpapered hallways lead in fact to rather formal furnishings. The rooms are all outfitted with antiques (or antique-looking) finds that hark back to Napoleonic Paris, but are catered to modern tastes, such as the high-count sheets and firm, foamy beds. The rooms also skew large with ample seating space that even could accommodate a noble visitor or two.
Black marble and shiny brass—not in the trendy silhouettes and finish seen in the latest It hotels, but rather the kind found in your rich grandparents’ home, which may just be a reflection on how timeless certain styles and materials can be. Etageres and floating shelves offer storage space, and the sconces ensure that, yes, the concealer is truly blended to perfection.
Marble, miniatures and marquetry, oh my! This does not feel like New York. Elegant and European, the lobby has an imperial quality. Luckily, the Monkey Bar off to the back will swift you back to Gotham. The lobby also leads upstairs to the second floor lounge, in which the continental buffet and wine hour reign.
No gym, but the hotel provides passes to New York Sports Club a few blocks away.
If unfamiliar with the Monkey Bar, look it up. One of New York’s most iconic establishments that lay fallow until 2009 when Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter brushed off the dust and shook up the martinis to the new guard. Original murals surround the circular space and if this doesn't make you believe in having nice things, then maybe we really don’t deserve them. Though not owned by the hotel, room service is provided by the Monkey Bar’s kitchen.
For the all-famous Library Hotel Collection breakfast and wine-and-cheese, head to the second floor Club Room, where complimentary coffee, tea, and snacks are available to guests all day; there's an extensive buffet at breakfast, and free wine and hors d'oeuvres daily from 5 to 8 p.m.—good to know since room service is limited.
Save up your martini allowance for the Monkey Bar. It’s well worth it.
Close to the 51st street station on the 6 train, the E/F/M stop at 53rd and 5th Avenue
Much buzzed about are The Grill and Pool (7-minutes away) in the former Four Seasons classic that kept the vibe and the menu similar, just consider it a needed update from Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone (of Torrisi Brother’s and Carbone fame). There’s always Danny Meyer’s ever-tasteful Modern (5-minute walk) inside the MoMA towers.
In keeping with swank clubby establishments, try your luck at the Polo Bar (7-minutes walk) or the famed 21 Club (5-minutes walk) for an unforgettable evening of luxury.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This hotel has history—and it shows, in the sense that the good life that once was is still very much contained in these walls. The Elysée is an overlooked landmark of New York in favor of its splashier lifestyle hotel neighbors, but its old world charm shouldn’t discarded as dingy or unfashionable. The Elysée still has it.