In the pantheon of luxurious New York hotels, there are the old ones, like the Plaza and the Pierre, and the new ones, like the Mandarin Oriental and the Four Seasons. But only one hotel combines both the old and the new: The Lotte New York Palace, located on Madison Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets.
The “old” portion of the hotel, fronting Madison Avenue, was built in 1882 as the historic Villard Mansion by renowned architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White. This ornate brownstone building, originally constructed as six private residences, surrounds a courtyard which leads to an ornate two-story lobby. The “new” portion, which houses the actual hotel, is a 55-story skyscraper just east of the mansion built by developer Harry Helmsley in 1981. Today, the hotel is owned by Seoul-based Lotte Hotels and Resorts, which took over the property in 2015 and recently completed a thorough renovation. We had a chance to tour the hotel recently, and it’s truly fit for a king.
The Palace is home to 822 guest rooms and 176 suites; a separate, exclusive section located on floors 41 and above, called The Towers, is made up of 176 rooms and suites, and is ranked #10 on TripAdvisor’s top Luxury Hotels in The United States. The Towers rooms are swanky, to say the least. They’re ultra-modern, with a pleasing color scheme, wrap-around windows, fine art, and absolutely stellar views. Up on the top floor are four of the most stunning suites in the city, including the recently-renovated Champagne Suite as well as the Jewel Suite (both of which were designed by design firm HOK, which also provided the architectural and masterplan for the entire hotel renovation), which I was able to visit. This 5,000 square foot triplex suite is bedecked with jewels from designer Martin Katz, and the suite even has a small room where you can meet with a representative to buy some jewelry of your own. An elevator connects the three floors, and on top is a private room deck, complete with a Jacuzzi. It’s absolutely stunning, and a night there will set you back $25,000.
Back in the former Villard mansion, you’ll encounter a series of rooms that were formerly home to restaurants but now are used for private functions (another restaurant will most likely be opening there within the next year). These rooms have been perfectly preserved, and you might expect from a Gilded Age New York mansion, look like they could have been shipped in from Versailles. Tucked away in the northern wing is a reservation-only salon called Rarities, one of the city’s undiscovered gems for those who love fine wines and spirits; the selection is outrageously opulent, with pours of Scotch starting at $30 (Balvenie 14 Year, Caribbean Cask) and going all the way up to $2,835 (Macallan 60 Year, Lalique). The walls are lined with priceless bottles that are also available by the glass, and the space itself is, like the rest of the hotel, stunning.
The hotel is also home to two other bars, Trouble’s Trust and Tavern on 51, and both are cozy and classy places for a cocktail or meeting. A French patisserie called Pomme Palais is also located on the first floor (with a separate entrance on 51st Street), selling treats like macarons, eclairs, fruit tarts, housemade croissants, coffee, and lunch items; they’ve recently launched a fun summertime picnic basket deal for one or two people which includes two sandwiches, two desserts, two bags of chips, assorted mixed fruit, and two drinks.