The Palm Court
768 5th Ave at 58th St, inside The Plaza Hotel
This spectacular room, with its soaring stained-glass roof, transports you to the times of old-world elegance.
It was once said, “Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza.” When The Plaza opened its doors in 1907, it was advertised as the Greatest Hotel in the World.
The Plaza is located in what used to be the most fashionable residential area of New York City, known as “Millionaire’s Row.” Opulent mansions belonging to the wealthiest families of the Gilded Age – the Astors and the Vanderbilts – lined Fifth Avenue. The corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street used to be occupied by a Renaissance-style château belonging to Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the largest private residence to ever grace New York’s streets. This mansion (the current location of Bergdorf Goodman) was The Plaza’s closest neighbor.
Henry Hardenbergh, The Plaza’s architect, created the building worthy of its neighbor’s opulence – no expense was spared and the cost of construction came to unprecedented $12 million.
Kings, presidents, ambassadors, stars of the stage and screen, as well as sports legends stayed at The Plaza. Frank Lloyd Wright, one the greatest American architects, stayed there while working on his last major project – the Guggenheim Museum. The Beatles took rooms there during their first 1964 visit to the United States. In 1966, Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed “Black & White Ball” in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza.
During the Roaring 20s, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the royalty of the era, regularly lunched, dined and drank at The Plaza. Ernest Hemingway suggested that Scott Fitzgerald should donate his liver to Princeton University and his heart to The Plaza. In Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby, Daisy and other friends take a room at none other than The Plaza when they come to New York for a night on the town. When the Fitzgeralds moved out of New York City, they liked to stay at The Plaza on their visits and often had tea at the Palm Court.
Donald J. Trump purchased The Plaza in 1988 for $407.5 million, saying, “this isn’t just a building, it’s the ultimate work of art.” (He sold it in 1995 for $325 million).
The best way to experience The Palm Court is to have an afternoon tea. Even though it’s a pricey affair (from $65 for the “New Yorker” menu to $105 for the champagne version), it’s tasty and very elegant.
Afternoon tea and exuberantly expensive drinks are indeed an indulgence.