*SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS*
If Eloise were in her 30s and living at New York's The Plaza hotel, I suspect her life would be something like this:
The familiar bellman opens her car door as she pulls into the horseshoe drive on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South. She's probably on her cell phone or thumbing through her iPhone, gabbing about latest socialite du jour who embarrassed herself at last night's dinner, or consulting on the custom Dior dresses that have been cut and tailored specifically for her to wear to the upcoming party in the trendy Meatpacking District. Her Christian Louboutin's clap across the marble floor as she races to the elevator on the other side of the hotel from where she grew up, which are now the residences since the hotel closed in 2005 for renovations. Elevator concierges have been replaced with magnetic key cards, which she constantly loses in the black hole of her Chanel bag. The elevators open to the Penthouse level - now just home to Eloise (Nanny, we expect, is living large in an estate on the Upper East Side).
Famished from her day running around making debut appearances at top business meetings, she picks up the phone and orders a light bite of crudités and cucumber sandwiches. "Just charge it!", she shouts, as she slams down the phone and falls on the plush velvet sofa perfectly positioned in front of her living room windows that overlook Central Park. While some things grow older, some old habits simply never change.
Always a fan of hotels, I loved hearing stories of Eloise. The glamorous life of the little girl who lived in a hotel appealed to me and more than 30 years later, I seem to have taken on a few of her traits (sans the endless bank account and custom-made designer dresses). My work keeps me in hotels more than my own home, so when I first got wind of The Eloise Suite at The Plaza Hotel I simply had to take a sneak peak and see how the legendary hotel turned a young girl's land of make-believe into reality.
Located on the 18th floor, room 1832 at The Plaza is everything Eloise would have wanted wrapped up in a Betsy Johnson shell. The walls are wallpapered pink-and-white and the pink neon "Eloise" sign that hangs on the wall above the bed adds even more bright pink to the room. The tea table is set up to host the Eloise-of-honor and her gal pals. For those gals who didn't come appropriately dressed for Eloise's party, the Plaza thought ahead and stocked the room with clothes - everything from taffeta skirts to feather boats and kitten heel shoes adorn the closet. In the bathroom, adult amenities like spa robes and the signature Miller Harris toiletries have been replaced with fluffy slippers and bubble bath.
The room is a little princess's dream come true and of course, this dream will cost: For $995 a night as many as four children can stay in the suite and shop with a $100 gift card in the hotel's Eloise shop. Mom and Dad can stay in the adjoining parent's suite and enjoy champagne and truffles for a total cost of $2,045 per night for both rooms. Of course, pets are welcome in Eloise's world. In a nod to Eloise's pet turtle, Skipperdee, those staying in the suite can bring their pets -reptiles or otherwise- for an additional $35, as long as the pet weighs less than 25 pounds.
I walked into the room and stood in awe of this playground. Now in my mid-30s and having spent the night at many a hotel over the past few years for my work, I understand the fantasy Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight created when they penned the Eloise books.
My stay at The Plaza wasn't quite like my interpretation of Eloise in her 30s, but it wasn't far from the pleasant pampering Eloise was used to, either. Upon arriving, guests are helped out of their cars by bellmen who personally show you to the reservations desk. The walk through the Champagne Bar in the lobby is a perfect welcome to Plaza guests. Check-in is precise and quick and before your credit card is scanned for incidentals your personal concierge is holding your bags and showing you to the elevator.
On the ride up to the 10th floor my concierge recounted the history of the hotel for me. He pointed out the amenities in my 475-square-foot guest room, including the 24-carat gold plated bathroom fixtures and the guest services panel, a wall-mounted piece of technology that allows guests to control everything from room temperature and lighting, to room service and surround sound. The panel comes off the wall so you can walk around the room with it and truth be told, I had a little fun playing with the chandelier dimmer switch via the technology panel. (The technology panels are being replaced by iPads in September, which will allow guests to control all aspects of their hotel stay.)
Following the three year renovations that took place, The Plaza reopened in March 2008 as a member of the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Regardless of the new management, the Plaza retained its sense of style. The dark Oak Bar still makes the best martinis in Manhattan. If you look closely you can envision Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar doing the tango across the Oak Room floor in "Scent of a Woman." The hotel's Palm Court lights up on the weekends for brunch and the Rose Club is still the place to see-and-be-seen for mid-afternoon cocktails.
If Eloise were still at the Plaza today, I suspect her room would have looked more like mine - sophisticated elegance wrapped in faux-fur blankets and lit by gleaming chandeliers that dim on command via a wall-mounted technology panel. While the majority of "pink" might be lost from adult-Eloise's overstuffed closet, her childlike innocence isn't. At The Plaza, one's legacy never fades, regardless of whether they're here for the night or they call the hotel home.