25 February, 2010

The Duchess Retreats . . .

Gramercy Park Hotel

The Lobby of the Gramercy Park Hotel

A work marathon kept the Duchess in New York a bit longer than expected, so at the last minute (having checked out of her midtown crash pad The London) she took a room at the Gramercy Park Hotel. As soon as the taxi rounded the corner from 22nd Street onto Lexington Avenue (the GpH is located at 2 Lexington Avenue, right next to the private Gramercy Park), the Duchess whiffed the scent of romantic, opulent bohemia.

The Jade Bar, Gramercy Park Hotel

The former (permanent or temporary) home of Humphrey Bogart, Mary McCarthy, and Bob Dylan, to name a very few, the GpH was purchased in 2003 after the death of its long-time owner by Ian Schrager. Designed in collaboration with Julian Schnabel (the dream-like but primal vibes of his aesthetic haunt the halls), the GpH features a dizzying array of Twombly, Basquiat, Hirst, Schnabel and Warhol.

Guest Room, Gramercy Park Hotel

The rooms are intimate and well-appointed, with an appropriate dose of velvet and a nicely stocked minibar (although the Duchess couldn't find the soy crisps promised on the menu). What a far cry from the disappearing act her entire minibar made recently at a regrettably shabby midtown hovel that shall remain nameless (Waldorf Astoria, you know who you are!).

Rooftop Bar and Club, Gramercy Park Hotel

The Duchess scrambled to grab a quick breakfast on the roof before heading out for the airport. Panicked by the impending "Stormageddon" about to drop one foot or more of snow on New York this very day, she indelicately wolfed down some blueberries with yogurt and coffee (admittedly she also nibbled on the choicer bits of a pain au chocolat). Open at 6:30 am on the spot, the staff were pleasantly groggy and coddling. The retractable glass roof whistled with the sound of steady raindrops, and then the raindrops turned to snow . . . .

Maialino by Danny Meyer, Gramercy Park Hotel

So the Duchess is back where she belongs (hello, American Airlines, goodbye, GpH), but the next time she is in town she refuses to miss a meal at Maialino, the Meyer-driven powerhouse/Roman trattoria that is garnering rave reviews from all corners. The Duchess and her dinner party were refused a table, a bar seat, or even standing room at the dinner hour sans reservations, so the Duchess had to satisfy her appetite with a late-night order of torta della nonna (though the Duchess would have preferred the olive oil cake; dear waitress, why did you talk her out of it?) and a super-yummy vin santo.

If you're in the neighborhood, and are also viciously refused by the maitre d' at Maialino (in fact he was actually quite kind and sympathetic (though obviously not enough!)), scoot around the corner of Lex and 22nd to Novita (22nd Street between Park and Lex). Also recently hit with a rave, Novita is the choice alternative table to Maialino for Italian, and for Gramercy Park.

The Duchess Retreats, and Recommends:

Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10010

Oh, and bring your wallet -- or better yet, bring someone else's.

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