Story and Photos by Melanie Votaw
The Hotel Elysée is one of three HKHotels properties in New York, and there are good reasons why these hotels consistently rank high among both pros and travelers. The properties are beautiful, and the service is exceptional.
I stayed in a gorgeous, spacious suite at the Elysée with a full kitchen – a small refrigerator, a sink, a microwave, and a stove. There was a living area and a bedroom, both with widescreen televisions.
The furniture was traditional with a European flavor, containing a couch, table, striped chairs, a dresser, and a desk in the living area. The décor was in golds and muted oranges for a classic and elegant, but not staid or boring, look. If you want a suite, though, book early. There are only three junior suites, seven regular suites, and three Premiere suites. The regular rooms are also spacious, however, and there are 87 of those available in the hotel.
The Elysée was built in the 1920s and is named for a French restaurant from that time. It has always been a site to attract the rich and famous, and today is no different. This is due, in part, to its location just off Park Avenue and within walking distance of Central Park, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Monkey Bar in particular, the hotel’s restaurant, is often on lists for “celebrity sightseeing” in New York. The restaurant has served as a backdrop for scenes on “Mad Men” and “Sex and the City,” for example. I had lunch there one day and saw former Governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, also enjoying lunch at a nearby table.
Monkey Bar is known for its wall murals with caricatures of famous New York figures, as well as monkeys, which are remnants of the original murals by Charlie Wala from the early 1950s. In a city with tons of restaurants, it’s surprisingly difficult to find inspired menus that don’t copy one another. Monkey Bar has some very interesting dishes. I had the sugar pumpkin risotto with braised chestnuts and duck confit. I especially loved the small homemade Parker rolls brought to us at the start of the meal. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Items on the dinner menu include roasted day boat scallops with pickled dates and Jerusalem artichokes as an appetizer and Guinea hen with beets, endive, and pistachios as an entrée. You can order many of these dishes from room service.
I especially appreciate that HK’s hotels offer several complimentary amenities to all guests. At the Elysée, these include free WiFi throughout the property and a Continental breakfast with pastries, fruits, cereals, juices, coffee, tea, and boiled eggs. Cookies, fruits, and drinks are available throughout the day, too, and newspapers are provided. A reception is held every weeknight from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with complimentary Prosecco, wine, cheese, and hors d’oeuvres for guests.
There is no gym on the premises (which is not unusual for New York where space is at a premium), but daily passes to New York Sports Club are given to all guests.
As you would expect of a 5-star New York hotel, all rooms have hair dryers, in-room safes, minibars, desks, MP3 docks, clock radios, voicemail, robes, and high-end toiletries in the bathroom by Gilchrist and Soames. A few rooms even have terraces or solariums, so if you want one of these, be sure to ask when you make your reservation.
Elysée is entirely non-smoking. If you like a soft mattress, though, you have options at the hotel. The mattresses are firm, but you can request a softer featherbed when you reserve your stay.
Room rates run from $299 to about $1,500, but a special this summer will allow you to stay at the hotel for as little as $207. This is a steal if you’re planning a trip to New York, where even 2-star and 3-star hotels tend to cost at least $200 a night. Even if you pay the normal rate for a room, the prices are excellent for this level of service and quality.
Hotel Elysée definitely has one of the most beautiful lobbies among New York’s boutique hotels, and I love the stairwells with painted fresco-like walls. Even if you don’t manage to stay there, take a quick peek when you’re in the area.
HOTEL ELYSÉE, NEW YORK
60 East 54th Street
New York, NY 10022
Melanie Votaw was given a complimentary stay at this hotel, but she is dedicated to providing readers with sincere appraisals of the properties she visits.