Hotel Elysee is a European-style hotel founded in 1926. It sits smack bang in the middle of NYC … 3 blocks from the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2 blocks from 5th Ave shops and 6 blocks from the iconic Central Park. It was a very cold and blowy April morning in NYC when I arrived. As I pulled my aggressively overpacked suitcase up the curb I was met by Goustavo. Goustavo greeted me with a kind smile, took my bag and beckoned me inside out of the cold. As we chatted I found out he had worked at Hotel Elysee for 21 years! So naturally I got all my questions answered PLUS an array of fun facts about the history of the hotel from Goustavo AKA the brains trust.
As I was checking in I was informed I’d be spending the night in the Tennessee Williams Presidential Suite on the top floor. WAH!? Mind Blown! My all time favourite play is the Tennessee Williams classic The Glass Menagerie. WHICH as it happens was playing on Broadway starring the one and only Sally Fields. I first saw Sally Fields in Mrs Doubtfire which my siblings and I watched an absurd amount of times as kids. The Glass Menagerie was the first show I’d booked tickets for that NY trip and now I was staying the night in the Williams Suite. Thats right ... I've slept where Mr Williams has slept!
Goustavo rode the elevator with me explaining that I was in for an incredible treat. He opened the door and we stepped into dining room fit for someone far more refined than I. I looked like I’d slept with a hanger in my mouth I COULD NOT STOP SMILING!
Through the dining room, past a fireplace, a huge closet – Carrie Bradshaw huge. Into a Cinderella giant bedroom. The place was absolutely stunning.
Once Gustavo left I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wandered around in an attempted to soak up every perfectly curated piece of furniture and artwork in the suite. Antique artworks, detailed hand carved ornate wooden furniture, beautifully rich fabrics and colours making a room fit for a Queen feel so cosy and homely. A short while later I remembered Gustavo had said I should definitely go downstairs for the complimentary wine and cheese service Hotel Elysee offered to guests every evening. Wine and cheese. My two tasty vices!
In the elevator I met Elody and Nell. Two adventurers in their early 80s from North Carolina. Literally the sweetest things. They very kindly invited me to wine with them and we had the most amazing chat. We spoke art, theatre, travel, NY life and the importance of being open and honest. We spoke so freely about our homes, families, experiences, passions and fears. Traveling alone is something I highly recommend ... one reason being you find that you give more time to people and they in turn give more time to you. I'll never forget Elody and Nell and our great chat. I so wish I took a photo so I could put faces to their names for you! Instead I took a photo of me in the elevator mirror. Isabel you're so original. Not.
Downstairs from the hotel is the famous Monkey Bar. Monkey Bar opened in 1936 and features a jazz age ambiance with a live pianist, eccentric painted walls depicting scenes of monkeys drinking, playing poker and being mischievous. Literal party animals! The Monkey bar is featured in Sex and The city and Mad Men so seemed like a fitting place for me to get myself a cheeky nightcap. Drink of choice ... an Old Fashioned.
After retiring to my enormous suite I hopped into that giant bed and drifted off into dreamland thinking of all the spectacular people that had frequented the hotel before me. The 20s is my absolute favourite era culturally and artistically and I felt so blessed to have experienced an evening that gave me a taste of life in that extraordinary time.
Thank you to all the beautiful people at Hotel Elysee and Monkey Bar for making my stay so unforgettable.
If you'd like to check out the Hotel Elysee website and browse the array of stunning suites click here! ... and for Monkey Bar magic click
Peace + Love,
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