Tradition is a wonderful thing. As someone Irish/English, we can all agree my tradition is to be drunk 200% of the time. The Carlyle is smothered in tradition, but like that time in history where women got to choose between drowned or burnt alive, not all traditions are brilliant.
I was on my way to Aman New York, so tried my usual trick of Columbo-ing it and asking for just one more thing. The recently-refurbished Carlyle looked like a good option, seeing that it is now a Rosewood, a chain that has some brilliant properties in Europe. Yet some paranormal influence seems to overcome hotel chains once they cross over to North America, even those, like the Four Seasons, that started life there. It’s like the blatant Chinese fake knock-offs in the early 2000s – cheaper, inelegant and clearly not the real deal. I was here due to the refurbishment, but on first impressions I was as successful at seeing what was new as they were at finding those WMDs in Iraq.
The lobby gave the impression of a hotel that had had better days. With no windows, the restaurants and bar possessed the dungeon feel of The Beaumont – a place that also offered good food but never felt like somewhere I ever wanted to spend any time. The Beaumont used the covid-lockdowns to redesign their downstairs area to overcome this very issue, but that news had yet to travel this far West.
Once I was handed the key and sent to find my suite by myself, I did get to see why people would want to stay here – the view. Ok, it’s mostly of some buildings and a hint of Central Park, but it’s better than paying $21 to watch Jurassic World Dominion, one of the worst movies of all time, on the TV. The rooms had been refurbished and whilst still not looking like a new hotel or anything built in the last ten years, it was a marked improvement on the rest of the place. It was much lighter, fresher, modern and relaxing. The only element of the entire hotel that felt like a Rosewood was the marble bathrooms – they must have bulk-purchased a slab somewhere as it’s showing up in all their properties. One cliche is true though: you can never avoid the sirens in New York. Even on the 30th floor I could still hear what, I assume, is a perpetual battle of good vs evil taking place.
Otherwise, the refurbishment hasn’t gone far enough. The gym looked like a callback to 1980s high school gym designers, so congrats guys, your day has finally come where the big boys started copying you.
The Carlyle has a Savoy type feel to it; that buzz about it that makes you go there, see the crowds, but then wonder how to gained its reputation. It was likely once a great, but its best days were long ago. With decent dining options and the live performance at Café Carlyle, it feels more of a place to visit, to experience, than to stay. When you have a hotel that doesn’t have the modern facilities of newer properties (spa facilities, advanced gym, pool, something unique like rooftop dining), then you’re reliant on creating beautiful spaces near the lobby and amazing service. That wasn’t present here. Not from preferences being remembered from previous Rosewood stays, or simple things like helping with luggage or showing up the one time I called for anything. Even the airport collection experience lacked the cohesion I’d expect, where the driver would make the hotel aware of your imminent arrival, instead everyone looked surprised to see me. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to meet me here either.
- Lack of facilities
- Not enough modernisation
- The views
Neither good, nor bad, but definitely not luxurious.
It’s not a bad hotel; it’s not a great hotel, it’s just not my kinda hotel.
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