New York’s icon, The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, is so called because when it was being built, in 1930, Diana Ginsberg Jaffe, daughter of the developer, Moses Ginsberg, was reading all-round British brain, Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881. (Interestingly, Carlyle’s best-known work, On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, is just as relevant today – and, inter alia, he inspired the mathematical term ‘Carlyle Circle’, which surely would make a great name for a loyalty following.)
The 190-room treasure continues to have reasons behind its names. Bemelmans Bar, going strong since 1958, is, for instance, named for its original artworks by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1898-1962, the Austrian artist who illustrated the Madeline series – and hotel GM Tony McHale is delighted that five additional pieces have recently been purchased.
Continuing the nomenclature history, the hotel two weeks ago soft-opened a new 80-seat all-day restaurant, Dowling’s at The Carlyle, honoring a former New York real estate investor and philanthropist Robert Dowling, 1895-1973. Also harking back to the hotel’s past, Dowling’s at The Carlyle’s, designed by William Paley, part of Tony Chi’s team, who has been inspired by The Carlyle’s original designer Dorothy Draper – Paley’s black-and-white scheme is also a reminder of black-tie soirées of earlier days. Chef Sylvain Delpique’s food is similarly upgraded retro: when did you last dine off tuna tartare with whipped crème fraiche and sauce gribiche, or an iceberg salad with blue cheese and bacon dressing?
Tony McHale says tradition is an essential element of The Carlyle. It is one of only two prominent Manhattan hotels that still has real-live elevator operators: the famous-names who live in the building’s private residences would choke on the lettuce if they even thought they might have to push their own elevator buttons. Another distinguisher is the live-cabaret Café Carlyle, where Woody Allen. on the clarinet, was a Monday soloist for many years. The Café is scheduled to re-open February.
Favourite bedrooms are the 74sq m Carlyle Suites, on floors three through 12: go higher, for best views along Madison Avenue. Designer Alexandra Champalimaud’s colour palettes here are taupe and mushroom, emphasising discreet style. Yes, it is discreet style that makes The Carlyle such a favourite, and, of course, those elevator operators will never tell paparazzi you are there.