Stylish notes on travel :: The St. Regis, New York

 Image property of St. Regis

Image property of St. Regis


Right in the heart of midtown, surrounded by the some of the world's greatest museums, shopping and restaurants - and just a quick walk to Central Park - sits the St. Regis, rich in history and steeped in tradition.

In 1903, as they had many other summers, the Astor family took an annual vacation to the family home in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. That summer the grand and opulent hotel was in the midst of construction and did not yet have a name so John Jacob Astor enlisted the help of his family to help. His niece suggested St. Regis, the beautiful lake by the home which was named after Francois Regis, a seventeenth century monk who was known for his hospitality to travelers. Today, over a century later, the moniker remains a most fitting one.

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

St. Regis Hotel in New York City is luxury defined and sets the bar incredibly, almost impossibly high. Here the glamour and charm of yesterday coexists beautifully today's modern lifestyle. While the hotel, lobby - currently under renovation - and restaurant exude the hotel's incredibly rich history, the rooms are historic only in their architecture - with high, austere ceilings, oversized windows, and exquisite crown molding - the decor is both elegant and luxurious by today's standards. Luxurious colors, textures and style make the rooms at the St. Regis feel more like a private residence than a hotel.

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Our room - A simple but elegant King sized bed is set against a canopy, rich and deep in color and texture, flanked by two bedside tables set against a mirror-inlayed wall that reflects the light of the mirror on the opposing wall. Elegant white and gray shadow stripes gives the room a feel that is both masculine and feminine, modern yet traditional. The sitting area, featuring a small sofa, a chair and a coffee table are dressed in rich velvet of bright mustard, charcoal grey and deep ocean blue. Nothing about the room screamed out "hotel," not even the calling card from our personal butler - Yes, that's right, each visiting guest or family is assigned a personal butler. Your butler is on call and on hand for whatever you may need. Cookies? Milk? Champagne? Just call your butler!

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

via St. Regis NYC

Let's talk about the staff at the St. Regis. The staff at the St. Regis brings customer service to an entirely new level - attentive, helpful, courteous. Other luxury and 5 Star hotels should take note. And then there's the personal butler. I mentioned that, right? Who doesn't want a personal butler? Complimentary coffee, made in a French Press, along with delicate china cups and morning paper are delivered up daily so you can ease into your day gently, and relax in the comfort of your own room. Our room was high up on the 15th floor and we were graced by the plentiful natural light that warmed the room.

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

If you do not wish to dine in your room, make your way down to the historic King Cole Bar and Salon which is open for breakfast at 7:00 am and serves a full dinner until 11:00 pm. Of course you can stop in for their famous "Red Snapper." Stylish, sophisticated and glamorous, the King Cole Bar's history is worth sharing. 

THE ST. REGIS SIGNATURE COCKTAIL is the original Bloody Mary, then known as "The Red Snapper."  If you're at all a Bloody Mary fan, you simply must head over to the King Cole Bar to experience theirs. In 1934, Fernand Petiot, the bartender at the time, perfected a recipe for a vodka-and-tomato juice cocktail he dubbed the Bloody Mary. The name was thought to be much too racy for the hotel’s upscale clientele, and was rechristened the Red Snapper. The Bloody Mary remains the signature cocktail of the St. Regis brand, with each hotel crafting its own interpretation of the libation. For the original recipe, please click



Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

A lunch of oysters, their own chopped salad and a Bloody Mary perfectly hit the spot!

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

In fact, we thought the Bloody Mary to be so perfect, we went back later on for another!

Property Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I fell in love with the charming, warm and animated Old King Kole bar  - perhaps for the spectacular original mural by artist and illustrator Maxfield Parrish. In fact there are several Parrish pieces in the hotel lobby. Combine the art and architecture with the overall splendor of the building and one may indeed wonder whether they've stepped inside a museum.

For nearly a century the genial king has greeted guests of the King Cole Bar including such famous hotel guests as Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali and John Lennon. To truly appreciate the significance of this mural one needs to learn the about history behind the iconic mural.

“Old King Cole” began its New York reign in 1905, when it was commissioned for St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV. The massive 8-by-30-foot painting was to find a home at Astor’s 42nd Street hotel, the Knickerbocker, but that bar fell victim to Prohibition in 1920 and was then converted into an office building. At that point the mural went into storage and moved to several locations. Finally it arrived at the The St. Regis New York and has called it home ever since.

The interesting thing is that Parish was a devout Quaker. He was initially reluctant to paint anything for a bar, but was convinced to put his beliefs aside. Perhaps the greatest influence was that Astor was willing to pay $5,000 for the piece, an incredible amount of money at the time.  

Astor passed away in April 1912 when the Titanic sank. Gertrude Vanderbuilt Whitney, a close friend to Astor, asked Parrish to create a painting to be sold to raise funds for the Titanic staff who perished on the ship. Parrish, because of his close association with Astor, was more than happy to comply.

Parrish's mural essentially launched his career and Parrish would go on to create several other famous masterpieces, including “Daybreak” and “Garden of Allah,” a reproduction of which stands behind the bar at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. During the 1920s it was purported that 1 out of every 5 American homes had a print of either ‘Daybreak’ or ‘Garden of Allah’ hanging on their walls.

via Trip Advisor

The hotel also offers a gym and full service spa.( I didn't use the gym - it is fairly small - but with Central Park just a few blocks away why would anyone want to run inside on a treadmill?)  For a truly spectacular and pampering stay I strongly suggest a customized massage. Upon arrival I was whisked down for what possibly might have been the best massage I have ever had. I thank Galina for restoring a level of calm I've not experienced for years. After the massage, you may relax some more with your choice of champagne, tea or water. I opted for the tea (shocking, I know!) which was a good thing as a split of pink champagne, along with some strawberries and fresh whipped cream, was in my room awaiting my arrival.

via St. Regis NY

When I mentioned to a dear friend that I would be spending the weekend at the St. Regis, she told me that when she was a child her grandmother stayed there often - that it was a very old world hotel. She was surprised I wasn't staying someplace a bit more modern, but then declared me to be old school as well. After I gave her my full report, upon return, I'm quite sure she will visit the St. Regis as well.

In fact, the only thing old school about the hotel, other than the architecture and decor, is the impeccable customer service. The St. Regis recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. The hotel offers all the modern amenities businessmen and families alike would ever need. Have I mentioned how incredibly family friendly the St. Regis is?

via Bespoke Magazine 

Upon arrival the children are greeted with a coloring book and a teddy bear. Their stay is peppered with child-friendly meals, pint-sized bathrobes and in-room step-stools. Family-friendly excursions created now will lead to a life-time of lasting memories. The new Family Traditions program caters to travelers of all ages at one of the city's best addresses. Traveling within 10 minutes from the St. Regis? Do be sure to ask about the hotel's Bentley available to all guests - even those traveling without children! At the St. Regis, luxury knows no limit and no detail has been left unturned.

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Stay tuned in the next couple of days for more on my New York weekend including a review of The 

Modern, Del Posto and my behind the scenes tour of The Antiques Road Show!