The Plaza New York Review: Still The City’s Most Iconic Stay
(Photo by The Plaza)
— Updated on 14 August 2023

The Plaza New York Review: Still The City’s Most Iconic Stay

— Updated on 14 August 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

The stately grand dame of the Big Apple and one of the country’s most celebrated luxury hotels. At almost 120 years old, The Plaza is about as New York as it gets, deeply rooted in the city’s glitzy social scene and glowing with a history many hoteliers could only dream of. There’s little any fussy travel writer could possibly take away from the prestige that has surrounded this hotel since it first opened back in October 1907 but I’m going to attempt a fair appraisal in this review for The Plaza.

Spoiler: there’s no such thing as perfection.

And yet, The Plaza earns its stripes as New York’s flagship hotel. From the rapture of late-night tipples underneath that impressive stained-glass ceiling at The Palm Court to the undeniable sense of place, staying even one night here confers a connection to the history of New York City that very few other hotels can offer. And New York has plenty of signature hotels.

It’s not so much how The Plaza operates day-to-day, but what has happened on the former site of the New York Skating Club that makes a stay here so memorable. From Truman Capote picking this ornate property as the scene of his historic 1966 black-and-white ball to its widely recognised use as the hotel in Home Alone 2, the heavily marketed phrase “nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza” holds incredible weight.

There are downsides. You’re paying a premium for history, to start. There are parts of the hotel, which was given a very expensive makeover in 2008, which still feel underused. And views? Well, unless you’re a resident, very few windows would remind you of The Plaza’s enviable position opposite the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park.

The Plaza New York





  • The hotel is dripping with history
  • Appropriately grand bathrooms
  • Very large suites with exceptionally comfortable beds
  • High tea in The Palm Court feels like an appropriately grand occasion
  • Couldn’t ask for a better location opposite Central Park


  • Lacking those dazzling Central Park views for anything but top-tier rooms
  • The food I tried was good but nothing memorable
  • Mini shopping mall feels underused

The Plaza New York is one of the most unique buildings in the city (Photo by The Plaza)

The Plaza New York Hotel Review


The Plaza is located opposite the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park (Photo by The Plaza)

As mentioned above, you’ll find The Plaza New York opposite the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park. That’s prime New York City right there, offering the world’s most famous urban park in one direction, and some of the city’s most illustrious boutiques on the other. That also means you’re a short walk to MoMa, Radio City Music Hall, The Rockefeller Centre and pretty much any subway station you’re going to need during your trip.

It will never not be exciting pulling up to The Plaza New York knowing you’re in one of the famous spots in one of the world’s most desirable cities. I got the same feeling when I was driving up to Villa San Michele in Florence or approaching the main building of Mandarin Oriental Lake Como. These are spots that not only hold great weight for luxury travellers but also ones that offer a very valuable sense of place.

As mentioned above, the location confers not only a great physical connection to the city but a mental one as well. Given how much has happened, is happening, and will happen in the Big Apple, being inside such an important NYC landmark helps the trip resonate that much deeper. Hence, time spent in this concrete jungle is infinitely better.

Design & Features

The illustrious Palm Court is one of The Plaza’s most recognisable spaces (Photo by The Plaza)

The Plaza wears its history with confidence and a great sense of occasion. The building itself is an attention-grabbing superstar in its own right. Standing on the southern corner of Grand Army Plaza, I scan the immense structure for those smaller Art-Deco details of which there are many.

Henry Janeway Hardernbergh is the name behind the French Renaissance château-style building and although the American architect also designed The Martinique and the Waldorf-Astoria, The Plaza is widely considered one of his greatest achievements.

It’s also not hard to see why the Fairmont brand has taken charge of the hotel. Looking like a Gothic castle, instantly recognisable from the laundry list of film and TV shows that draw on its powerful presence, there’s an easy throughline between this building and other Fairmont properties around the world. In particular, I’m reminded of the signature Fairmont Vancouver, smack bang in the literal middle of the city with a similar mix of classic Art-Deco and timeless whimsy.

The first thing you see when you walk into The Plaza (Photo by Chris Singh)

Inside is appropriately upper-class, with the hotel’s many refurbishments filling the heritage frame with contemporary comforts that aren’t clinging to any evolving trends. This is a hotel that won’t age regardless of whatever happens outside of the building. From the awe-inspiring polish of The Palm Court to the heritage elevators and sophisticated Oak Room, there’s a lot to admire about The Plaza before guests even leave the street level.

I do, however, feel like The Champagne Bar looks like a missed opportunity. The ritzy after-hours corner bar is a seamless extension of the reception area, but little has been done aesthetically to make it as much of a statement as The Palm Court and Oak Bar. And while it lacks that dazzling visual impact, I have little doubt what’s on offer is a cut above the rest.

When Donald Trump owned the building, he went to print and stated that this was his first purchase that wasn’t economic.

“I haven’t purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece – the Mona Lisa,” wrote the former president. “For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic – for I can never justify the price I paid, n matter how successful the Plaza becomes.”

Trump sold the hotel for around US$325 million in 1995 to a Middle Eastern conglomerate, and it has changed hands many times since with the sale price reaching higher and higher. According to my research, Accor’s Fairmont took over operations in 2007 while the current owner is listed as Katara Hospitality, which is the largest hotel owner in Qatar.

The ultimate hotel gift store; an Assouline boutique above the concierge desk (Photo by Chris Singh)

I must also give special mention to the Assouline boutique which is located above the concierge desk. I’ve always admired the brand’s oversized and incredibly well-designed coffee table books and could have easily spent days doing nothing but reading in the diminutive space. It doesn’t add much, but it’s a nice little flex for a hotel to have such an interesting boutique that isn’t your standard jewellery or watch store.


The regal lounge room of my one-bedroom Edwardian Suite (Photo by Chris Singh)

I’m staying in a one-bedroom Edwardian Suite, although I had no idea before I checked in. Arriving completely dusty from a 6 AM flight via San Antonio, Texas and hearing you’ve been upgraded may have biased me a bit towards the hotel from the get-go. And my tired eyes opened right up as soon as I stepped into the generous living room.

At around 102 square meters, this suite is almost double the size of a standard room at The Plaza, mostly split between the lounge room, an equally large bedroom and an enormous marble bathroom with a tub that’s just as big as the large shower.

The supremely comfortable bed at The Plaza (Photo by Chris Singh)

The suite looks like old money with its gilded features and luxurious wood panelling, but this isn’t stuffy elegance. It’s very tasteful. A big Louis-XIV-style hideaway from when New York City gets a bit too much – and it always gets a bit too much. The luxurious Italian bedding really offers the pinnacle of sleep.

Each suite also comes with a private butler. Mine arrived shortly after I checked in and politely offered to help me unpack. While I definitely like to indulge on the few occasions I personally get to enjoy the luxury travel side of things, I’m perhaps not yet at the stage of having another person unpack and pack for me. I take his business card and thank him. I completely forget he is even at my service throughout my two nights at the hotel.

Food & Drink

The beautiful Oak Bar is the most underrated space in The Plaza (Photo by Chris Singh)

While I stayed at The Plaza as a guest of Accor, the only food I tried during my stay was a classic spaghetti bolognese for room service and the legendary high tea at The Palm Court. Neither was particularly memorable, but the sheer occasion of a mid-morning Champagne and several moreish bites of sandwiches and scones helped me understand why this has become a tradition for cashed-up locals and guests alike.

Down a hallway from The Palm Court brings you into a little shopping area with a few fashion boutiques. This area used to be a food hall, which probably brought much more foot traffic to the space. It feels awkwardly underused when I walk through, spotting just a few quiet boutiques and maybe one or two other curious guests just using it for window shopping.


The Champagne Bar is located near the concierge desk and reception (Photo by Chris Singh)

Service is attentive but obviously scattered. I absolutely do not mind carrying my own suitcase down a flight of stairs, but I begrudgingly know many people who would cause a stink over such a thing. That’s because, for a hotel as popular as this, there’s not always going to be a high staff-to-guest ratio. So service is great but understandably distracted.

When I’m in America or Europe, I like to engage the concierge team as much as possible. This is the social engine of the hotel and you’re really missing out if you don’t take advantage of the personal relationships such hotels have built with the city’s finest operators over the years. I have a pretty packed itinerary in New York as it is, so I don’t take advantage but thoroughly enjoy the insights this team has when I ask for directions.

Suggestions I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise, personable chat and even just a greeting every time I walk by help make my time at The Plaza much more satisfying.

Verdict & Value

View from one of the higher room categories at The Plaza (Photo by Chris Singh)

If I was to book one night at a standard Plaza King for August 2023 then I can expect to pay just under AU$1,200 per night. This is not the type of hotel you’d factor into a tight budget, but this is New York. Hotel prices like this are expected and the Big Apple will only get expensive in the next few years.

That being said, out of the seven different hotels I stayed at on this particular trip to New York, both old and new, The Plaza was my first and favourite. As above, there’s just no getting that deep sense of place anywhere else, and while that might not seem like it’s worth a premium, for those who can afford it, it is.

The Plaza New York – Details

Address: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States
Contact: +1 212-759-3000

Rates at The Plaza New York start from around $1,200 per night.

The Author, Chris Singh, stayed as a guest of Accor Hotels for the purpose of this The Plaza New York review.

Enjoyed this review of The Plaza in New York? Check out our other New York content:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Plaza New York expensive?

The Plaza is one of the most expensive hotels in New York City but also its most important.

Who owns The Plaza in New York?

The Plaza is owned by Katara Hospitality and managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

What membership program does The Plaza use?

The Plaza is an Accor hotel so Accor Plus guests can earn and spend points here.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.