I often joke that I am a 70 year old half French, half Italian man trapped in a 30 year old woman’s body. At first I get some strange looks, but then it sets in. I only wear men’s watches, glasses, and cologne, I prefer leather and wool over silk and lace, enjoy a good cognac and a cigar, and feel right at home in a Land Rover with a Beretta and a dog. I love menswear, and can appreciate a bespoke suit infinitely more than a cocktail dress. When it comes to decor, I almost always prefer a masculine lounge feel over feminine floral patterns.
I lived in New York briefly while I attended college. Those were impressionable years and I remember them fondly. I may not be able to consider myself a New Yorker, but being in the city allowed me to experience a great number of beautiful hotels, museums, galleries, and restaurants. I managed to sneak into parties with Sondheim and Spacey, and once had coffee with Julian Lennon. I always managed to find myself at the right place at the right time with the right people and the right outfit to dart past security.
Somehow, however, during these gallivanting years resembling Gilbert’s recent book, “City of Girls”, I skipped over partying at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Recently though, that changed. Now a marketing and journalism professional in the bourbon and travel world, I find myself needing to visit New York more often for meetings, photo shoots, and a little gad for good measure.
When a dear friend and I learned that our July jaunts to the city would coincide, we made sure to make dinner plans. We shared “des nouvelles” over martinis and negroni, then went for a night cap. For the first time, I entered The Gramercy Park Hotel.
My inner 70 year old man leapt. From the dark halls and corners, to the velvet furniture and rich wood and leather, I was sold. In all seasons, the heavy decor just works. In the summer the weighted velvet drapery keeps the heat out, blanketing the space in a cool shadow-land. In winter, they keep the heat in, curating cozy, silken nooks and crannies in which to hide. This is the kind of place where I could live and die (and I almost did, die that is, but that’s a story for a later day). We stepped into the Jade Bar, a bright, beautiful bar whose name pays homage to green accent walls and jewel-toned crushed velvets. With minimal seating in a galley-like hall, one can imagine it was a bit crowded, but I suggested we squeeze in anyway. We have both lived in New York. We know the drill.
Much to my surprise, however, my friend bee lined for the far side of the bar counter and pushed on the wall. We’d had a few cocktails, and I wondered what on earth he could be attempting to accomplish, but to my surprise the wall gave way. On the other side was an enormous second room; The Rose Bar, where my Art Deco and lounge dreams came true. It was empty, with the exception of a long and lanky waitress who leisurely lead us to a corner table. We ordered dirty martinis and Kentucky Bourbon and admired the Warhol exhibit and Damien Hirst collection.
Since that evening, I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the GPH, and now I’ll always be chomping at the bit to get back. From the signature scent of the hotel, Le Labo’s Cade 26, to the gorgeous Aesop amenities, attention to detail is paramount.