When I started researching NYC hotels for my trip I found it a real challenge. The most famous hotel, in my mind at least, is The Plaza, but that is now mainly residential, and The Oak Room is closed due to ongoing litigation, in short, it isn’t what it was. In fact a wander though the tourist attraction lobby only served to confirm this. Having discounted The Plaza, I discounted the “chains” such as Four Seasons, Ritz Carltons, and Mandarin Oriental, and was left between the choice of something boutiquey and trendy, or traditional. For a luxury hotel in a somewhat traditional city (restaurants still enforce dress codes) I thought the latter was definitely the right way to go. The one with the best location, and most recent refurbishment, and promise of excellent service led me to choose The Pierre.
The lobby of The Pierre stretches from E 61st St to 5th Avenue. There are always doormen on hand to push the revolving doors, order you a cab, or help with your luggage. The lobby connects the hotel bar 2E (61st St side) which serves interesting and well made drinks as well as refined cuisine – it really is a bar worth visiting even if you are not a resident – to the 5th Avenue entrance with the famous Rotunda which leads into Sirio Ristorante (more on that later).
The reception desk was very professional and checked me in and showed me to my suite. As a Leaders Club member I had kindly been upgraded to a city view. The first suite I stayed in whilst very generous in size was on a relatively low (by US standards anyway) floor so the view was on level with neighbouring buildings rather than over rooftops, and the noise from the street was quite disturbing; one morning I found myself woken in the small hours by what sounded like some bins being emptied. It really is worth paying the extra money to guarantee a high floor which is far quieter and the aspect is a truly great view of the city. Something that seems to be the case with all their suites – save the very very best ones – is that the bathrooms, whilst they could never be considered small (separate large shower and bath tub), are a bit on the small side compared to the size of the bedroom and living room. That said, it becomes a minor point because they are well appointed in polished marble with lots of Molton Brown goodies. Another gripe of mine is that they have not installed more modern thermostats and heating/cooling fan units in the rooms. The fan noise in both suites was very audible; an engineer was despatched to turn the fan speed down which more or less completely resolved the issue. I now know what a previous reviewer meant when they said that they wished the hotel had spent more on the refurb. The rooms themselves have very luxurious fabrics, stylish furniture and a very refined classical style, it is just a shame the infrastructure wasn’t treated to a similar upgrade. All that said, the rooms are extremely comfortable with lots of extras to make for a comfortable stay.
The concierge team, headed by the fabulous Maurice, deserve special mention. Prior to my stay I had lots of contact with them to help with restaurant reservations (they got me tables at all the hard to book restaurants, even Per Se!) and planning my trip. They were so helpful, so kind, so professional that I can do nothing but praise them. Of course I also encountered them often during my stay, and they were equally wonderful in assisting me. The warmth, and personal service they delivered was another reason that The Pierre will always stand out for me. They went the extra mile to ensure that my trip was as good as it could possibly be.
The elevator attendants are a really nice luxury. They were all very charming, and it was nice to have a short chat with them; it ensured that The Pierre’s hallmark service was always being delivered wherever you were, even in the lifts!
Prior to Sirio’s arrival towards the latter half of 2012 the restaurant had been provided by an outpost of London’s Le Caprice. The restaurant is a long narrow room, almost corridor like, so it is not the easiest space to fill successfully. Sirio is beautifully designed in shades of brown, taupe and cream with lots of glossy lacquered wood like a Riva speedboat or yacht; it looks great and really works. Dinner was a joy, a largely classical menu in concept, but with 21st century tweaks here and there. I’d recommend going with the simplest dishes and choosing one of their excellent and perfectly cooked pasta dishes for a main course and you won’t be disappointed. The service was attentive, and the staff had charm and character. It feels like the sort of restaurant that will have lots of regulars returning for good quality, and really enjoyable Italian cuisine. The quality of the food at breakfast is on par with dinner, a courgette frittata with lots of fresh herbs really stands out as a distinctive breakfast dish. Breads and Viennoiserie were well made and of an high standard. The only downside for me was that at breakfast time, whilst the staff were just as kind and helpful, the service just wasn’t quite as smooth or slick. This is a very minor point, but hopefully one that can be improved upon.
During my stay I did have a look at the fitness room, it is equipped with some of the latest machines, as well as having lots of nice touches such as smoothies and other drinks. It’s not a 10,000 sq m spa, but this is NYC and there are only an handful of deluxe hotels which have a large spa/pool.
The hotel courtesy car is another nice extra, although nine times out of ten someone else is always using it when you want it, but if you’re lucky and it’s there a free journey in an S Class is much more pleasant than a yellow cab!
The Pierre is a very classic, refined, almost low key property that delivers perfect service with distinctive and classical accommodations. If you want a NYC with character and distinction, and lots of class you will not find a better choice!