Image: Plaza Hotel reopens
Diane Bondareff  /  AP
Harpist Sylvia Kowalczuk plays in the Palm Court during The Plaza Hotel's reopening in New York.
updated 3/4/2008 8:03:19 PM ET 2008-03-05T01:03:19

After a three-year, $400 million renovation, the landmarked Plaza Hotel has reopened with $1,000-a-night rooms and afternoon tea in the famed Palm Court beneath a newly restored stained-glass ceiling.

"They say this place is the world's most famous hotel," said doorman Freddy Davila as he welcomed visitors up the red-carpeted steps on the hotel's opening day, March 1. "It's wonderful to be back."

"We just had to see inside," said Owen Mathieu, visiting from Marblehead, Mass. "We've seen it in the movies. Everybody's heard of it."

The Plaza, which is a National Historic Landmark, first opened in 1907. Marilyn Monroe was photographed here, guest included the Beatles and Frank Lloyd Wright, and Truman Capote threw his "Black and White Ball" in the ballroom. Scenes were shot at The Plaza for movies ranging from "North by Northwest" to "Barefoot in the Park" to "Home Alone 2." Owners have included Conrad Hilton and Donald Trump.

Many fans also know the hotel from children's books by Kay Thompson about a naughty little girl named Eloise who lives at The Plaza. A portrait of Eloise hung in the lobby for nearly 50 years; hotel officials say it will be back up later this spring.

The Plaza's current owners, Elad Properties, originally planned to convert all guest rooms into condominiums, but the plan was criticized by preservationists and the hotel workers' union. Negotiations with Mayor Michael Bloomberg led to a deal that resulted in 282 hotel rooms, down from the original 805, and 181 apartments.

Image: Tea service
Diane Bondareff  /  AP
Guests at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel were offered tea service in the Palm Court.
"When you hear $1,000 a night for a room it might seem like a lot, but in the end it's not about the price, it's about the experience," said Bill Carroll, a professor at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. "It's such a unique destination. It really is about the cachet." Carroll spent his honeymoon at The Plaza 41 years ago.

Hotel general manager Shane Krige said the renovated guest rooms "bridge the world between the old and the new" with flat-screen TVs, electronic key cards, iPod docks and digital touchscreens that let guests change lighting and temperature or call for assistance. Touches of old-fashioned opulence include 24-karat gold-plated faucets, mosaic bathroom floors and white-gloved butlers, one per floor, on call 24 hours. Guests of all ages can request an "Eloise" bubble bath, with milk and cookies.

Ruthann Picerno of Lyndhurst, N.J., checking in with two friends, said she was thrilled to be among the first guests. "I wanted to stay here since I was 17. When they closed, I was crushed."

The March 1 event was considered a soft opening for the hotel, which plans a grand opening May 10. The hotel's storied Palm Court, an elegant dining room decorated with palm trees that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, is open already, along with a new Champagne Bar in the lobby. Later this spring, the famed Oak Bar will be back in service, along with a new lounge called the Rose Club. Also opening soon will be 160,000 square feet of high-end retail space, including a spa.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Take a Bite Out of The Big Apple

loading photos...
  1. A full moon rises over the skyline of New York City, as seen across the Hudson River in Weehawken, N.J., on April 25, 2013. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Commuters move through the grand hall of Grand Central Terminal in New York City on Jan. 25, 2013. Since its grand beginnings in 1913, when it was dubbed the greatest railway terminal in the world with an $80 million price tag, Grand Central has been an integral part of New York City. (Brendan Mcdermid / REUTERS) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Revelers cheers under falling confetti at the stroke of midnight during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square on Jan. 1, 2014. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. One World Trade Center overlooks the wedge-shaped pavilion entrance of the National September 11 Museum, lower right, and the square outlines of the memorial waterfalls in New York. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after flying out in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians on June 13, 2011, at Yankee Stadium. Located in the South Bronx, the new stadium opened in 2009. (Jim Mcisaac / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Central Park was the first public park built in America. Its 843 acres include woodlands, lawns and water. Central Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a New York City Landmark in 1974. More than 25 million visitors enjoy Central Park each year. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Saint Patrick's Cathedral is the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the U.S. The cathedral's construction began in 1858, and it opened its doors in 1879. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Skaters glide around the rink at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink. The ice rink, open between October and April, has attracted more than 250,000 people a year since it first opened on Dec. 25, 1936. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Patrons line up outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem to see Amateur Night. Since 1934, Amateur Night at the Apollo has launched the careers of famous entertainers such as Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, and many others. (Jonathan D. Woods / Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The South Pool at the National September 11 Memorial in New York City commemorates those who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center. (Justin Lane / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Pedestrians pass along a walkway under falling snow on the Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 3, 2014, in New York. One of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S., the Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The Statue of Liberty looms over a visitor as he uses binoculars to look out onto New York Harbor on Oct. 13, 2013, in New York. About 4 million people visit the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island each year. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Coney Island features entertainment parks, rides, an aquarium, a public beach, a boardwalk, fishing and Nathan's restaurant. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. New York City Subway dancer Marcus Walden aka "Mr Wiggles" performs acrobatic tricks on the subway while passengers watch Nov. 23, 2010. More than 4.3 million people ride the New York subway system every day. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the southern tip of two-mile-long Roosevelt Island - between Manhattan and Queens - was dedicated in 2012. (Paul Warchol / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York has been around since 1924 and includes large balloons, floats and performances. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Visitors view the Manhattan skyline from Rockefeller Center's "Top of the Rock" observation deck. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Pedestrians walk along a path on the High Line park on June 7, 2011, in New York City. The High Line was formerly an elevated railway 30 feet above the city's West Side that was built in 1934 for freight trains. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The moon rises at sunset behind New York's Empire State building, which opened in 1931. At 102 stories high, the Empire State Building is the fourth tallest skyscraper in America. (Gary Hershorn / REUTERS) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments