The Carlyle, where I quite seriously plan to retire, is the very definition of Old New York to me. The 21 Club (the original one) and similar spaces in Manhattan have the strange but wonderful ability to make me feel about as protected from the world as anything could. As a Grande Dame should be, the hotel is a beacon of civility and conviviality right in the middle of the biggest city in America.
Among the several beautiful spaces within the Carlyle, and I love them all, my favourite is called the Gallery, a unique space that defies logic of what anyone could imagine for a wonderful place to dine. In what is essentially a long transition hallway that is quite wide – a place to do something bold, and create a special dining area . As the guests at table enjoy dining and conversation, the passerby is on the catwalk – see and be seen as they alight into Bemelmans Bar.
Left a detail image, and below Bemelmans Bar, famous for the hand drawn murals done by Ludwig Bemelmans creator of the children’s book, “Madelaine” published in 1939. He provided the murals as an exchange for having his family live at the Carlyle for a time, and in another seemingly unworkable twist, the combination of cocktails and cartoons works to sublime execution in a hushed cocoon of a space in Manhattan.
Back within the gallery which draws you to the entrance of Bemelmans Bar, the tables are set and the diners are the audience. The magic of the space is this; the very delicate balance of allowing those dining to feel intimate while at the same time voyeuristic. Below you glean a sense of the Adriatic origins of the decor, and the unique spacing and traffic flow that allow this special room to work;
The gallery room at The Carlyle hotel designed by Renzo Mongiardino. It was inspired by the sultan’s room in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and is proof that truly inspired design never goes out of style.
The brass swing-arm lamps with patterned shades cast just the right amount of flattering light. It’s simply one of the most comfortable, and intimate rooms I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Note the scattered pillows used on the banquettes, the coziness, the lighting and the very residential feeling of the space. For those of us from Washington, D.C. we can recall the lovely, now gone, Fairfax Bar in the original Ritz Carlton, Washington, D.C. with it’s knotty pine mouldings and similar warmth. Please let me know if there are any rooms I might include, comment on, or perhaps some of your favourite rooms!