Hotel Spotlight

NEW YORK: Hotel Plaza Athenee

By Patricia Keegan

In planning a trip to New York, the first step is to fine the perfect place to stay. For a woman traveling solo, location has the highest priority. Although crime is down in New York and taxies are in abundance, if the trip includes a late dinner, or business meeting, enjoyment could be spoiled by concerns over the unknowns or unpredictability of some area of the city... Ambience may be next, then attitude of staff. Once the perfect combination is found, a hotel can become a choice 'home away from home' and a great attribute in the enhancement of future trips.

Located in a lovely residential area on the fashionable East Side, the Hotel Plaza Athenee was undergoing an exterior makeover when I arrived. Even the name of the hotel was somewhat obscured by planks and ladders leaning against its scaffold enclosed exterior. I could only catch glimpses of its lovely face.

Inside, however, was warmly aglow -- basking in a fresh new look which brings to mind an old restored masterpiece. The front desk staff had the welcome combination of being professional without being automatons.

My room was small, but exquisitely decorated in European style with great attention to fine details, as in fabrics and furnishings. It is well-equipped with high speed internet service. In the windy, freezing March weather, it was a pleasure to look from the window of my cozy and secure abode and see the swirling snowflakes begin to soften the dark, worn rooftops of New York in feathery white.

One of the main attractions of the Plaza Athenee is the award-winning Arabelle restaurant which opened in 2001. Beneath a golden dome, pastel banquettes and beautifully upholstered chairs, patrons dine in elegance. Accents of baroque murals with pagodas and faux conservatory windows create anEast meets West ambience which is both soothing and relaxing.

It is the creative originality of Executive Chef Raymond Saja who has made the Arabelle a famous landmark restaurant in New York. He has been lauded for his fusion of the world’s most intriguing flavors in an array of fresh and exciting dishes.

The other famous attraction is the Bar Seine -- a favorite meeting place for both discerning Manhattanites and guests who may be on an off-time for dining in the restaurant. The service is excellent. Its amber lighting emanates a warm glow. The unique design is in dark wood and animal print fabrics and is trimmed with some amazing pieces of Moroccan and Anglo-Indian artwork.

What makes this hotel great is the truly residential feeling. Walking outside and just around the corner offers some of the best shopping areas in New York.

Plaza Athenee is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World. It has been acclaimed by Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List 2004 as being, “one of the top hotels in the world.”

For more information call 212-734-9100, or visit