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The Carlyle Hotel

Oct 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations

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Yet another of my favorite New York haunts is the ultra-exclusive Carlyle Hotel, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  I blogged about the Carlyle’s famous Bemelman’s Bar, which was featured in Sex and the City: The Movie, after last year’s trip to the Big Apple, but didn’t include much information on the actual hotel itself.  So, here goes.  The Carlyle Hotel, which was named after author Thomas Carlyle, was built by Moses Ginsberg and designed in the Art Deco style by architects Sylvan Bien & Harry M. Prince.  The thirty-five story building first opened its doors in November of 1930 and was actually a residential hotel at the time, with apartments leasing for approximately $20,000 a year.  To show you how times have changed, today there is a room at the Carlyle which rents for approximately $15,000 a night!  LOL  Due to the Great Depression, the hotel did not fare well during the early years.  In 1932, it was sold to new owners who managed to keep it afloat and occupied, but failed to really put the hotel on the map.  In 1948, businessman Robert Whittle Downing purchased the building with the intent of transforming it into an exclusive, upscale hotel property.  And transform it, he did!  Shortly after the change of ownership, then-president Harry S. Truman stayed at the Carlyle, and the rest, as they say is, history.  Every president since that time has stayed at the Carlyle at least once during their presidency.  In fact, JFK owned an apartment at the hotel from 1953 until the time of his death and was such a frequent visitor that during his tenure the Carlyle earned the nickname “the New York White House”.  (By the way, I have absolutely no idea what I was looking at when my dad snapped the above picture, but it’s the only one I have of the front of the hotel.  LOL)

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JFK’s wife Jackie was also a frequent guest at the Carlyle during her lifetime.  The hotel honored her patronage by placing the above framed photograph just inside the main entrance.  Ironically enough, rumor has it that Marilyn Monroe was also a frequent visitor to the Carlyle – but only when JFK was in town and only when Jackie wasn’t able to accompany him.  According to legend, there is a secret tunnel system located below the hotel which allows the rich and famous to enter and leave the property without being spotted by the masses.  Thanks to the discretion and privacy that the Carlyle affords, it has long been a celebrity magnet.  In fact, the New York Times just recently dubbed it “a Palace of Secrets”.  Just a few of the celebs who have been spotted at the hotel through the years include Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Princess Diana, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Christian Slater, France’s First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Scarlett Johansson, Jack Nicholson, Gwen Stefani, Nicole Kidman, Jay Z, Beyonce, Ryan Reynolds, Britney Spears, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, Kate Bosworth, Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Katie Holmes, and Tom Cruise.  And, of course, Sarah Jessica Parker.  In fact, SJP and Matthew Broderick are such fans of the Carlyle that they not only honeymooned at the hotel, but hosted an after-after party for the Sex and the City: The Movie premiere there. 

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The Carlyle is an absolutely beautiful place, with sparkling marble floors, dark wood paneling, crystal chandeliers, and antique elevators complete with real gloved operators.  And I highly recommend stalking the place!  If you can’t afford to stay there (the average cost of a room is about $525!), you can grab a drink in the hotel’s Bemelman’s Bar or dine in their restaurant, Cafe Carlyle.  On our last trip to the Big Apple, we stopped in to the hotel and I asked my dad to snap some photos of of it for me while I went to ask the concierge about the filming that had taken place there over the years.  The two pictures shown above were the result of that request. LOL  Why he took only two photographs, both of me and not of the hotel, I’ll never know!  LOL My apologies!  Anyway, to get a better idea of what the Carlyle looks like inside, take a peek at the photo gallery on the hotel’s website:)

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The Carlyle is also, of course, a filming location.  Woody Allen met ex-wife Tea Leoni at the Carlyle’s Bemelman’s Bar for a drink in the 2002 movie Hollywood Ending.  Woody also shot a date scene with Dianne Wiest in the hotel’s restaurant, Cafe Carlyle, for the 1986 movie Hannah and her Sisters.

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According to the book New York: A Movie Lover’s Guide, the penthouse where Anthony Hopkins lived in Meet Joe Black was actually one of the Carlyle Hotel’s deluxe suites.  The exteriors of his building, however, were filmed elsewhere.

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Also according to New York: A Movie Lover’s Guide, the Carlyle stood in for the European hotel where Glenn Close first met Jeremy Irons in the 1990 movie Reversal of Fortune, but I’m not entirely sure that information is correct.  As you can see in the above screen captures, the decor just doesn’t seem to match that of the Carlyle.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The Carlyle Hotel is located at 25 East 76th Street on New York’s Upper East Side.

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2 comments

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  1. Mark says:

    Meet Joe Black – The exterior shots of the penthouse were filmed at the Pierre Hotel, 2 East 61st Street and 5th Avenue, Manhattan.

  2. jonn says:

    I’m so glad you were able to check out The Carlyle. I’ve always wanted to go there at least ONCE and MAYBE spot a celebritiy, but the price tag always threw me off the hope train.

    But I MAY go sometime in 2010 when they have this ‘stay two nights get third night free’ promotion. I guess the prices on many of these places are too high and they’re running low on bookings? Either way, the luxury NYC hotel has always been one of my “dream” hotels to experience, especially in Manhattan. Mandarin and Ritz and others all look nice, but the history at Carlyle is what really makes it shine.


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