“It makes me very sad every time I drive down Fifth Avenue and I see the Plaza and it says, ‘Condos for sale,’” said the actress Jane Krakowski last night at the re-launch of the Royalton hotel after a $17.5 million renovation. She was talking about the slow death march of many of New York’s older luxury hotels (a la the Mark, Stanhope, Delmonico, etc.)
“I feel like every city, there’s room for diversity, and I think it’d be great to have both, and there still will be. The big giants aren’t going anywhere,” added the blond actress in black Michael Kors.
When the Royalton opened its doors as one of the city’s first new-age boutique hotels in the fall of 1988, the Philippe Starck-designed midtown sleepery made waves with its fashion catwalk-like lobby. But cold and impersonal is how many people apparently felt about the space, so a redesign was commissioned.
Guests entering the Roman and Williams-designed lobby last night were quite literally smacked in the face by the heat pouring out of a Toyota Corolla-sized fireplace near the front door. (Frankly, the gas, glass-enclosed box-of-cozy looked like something one might find either in a Four Seasons in Aspen or on Larry Ellison’s 452-foot yacht, Rising Sun.) Beyond the wall of flames, the once-sweeping room has been divided into clustered seating areas, where the notion of kitsch has been truly redefined. Bare-bulb geometric light fixtures and retro faux ice-cave chandeliers lit up the laser-cut metal walls and calfskin banquettes. (Relatively few people were actually utilizing the sunken seating areas; almost everyone stayed on the elevated catwalk and in the front bar area.)
“I’m a big fan of design, and there’s so much design going on in the hotels these days, so this is where it’s at in the city,” she went on to say, while servers tried to navigate their way through the crowd while balancing trays covered with full drinks. (One unlucky waitress spilled Champagne on a partygoer’s silk Pucci-esque blouse, sending her off to the loo in a huff.)
“By the looks of this party, people come out to see what they’ve done. I think hotels are still great meeting places, and in New York City, you know, they’re places to hang out whether you’re staying there or not. That’s what I think the design has done for these hotels.”