Last night, we had the rare chance to see Woody Allen perform at Café Carlyle inside The Carlyle hotel in New York. The show started at 8:50 p.m. but the line formed outside at 5. If you didn’t have a table (which we didn’t) you could only hope to snag a spot at the bar (which, luckily, we did). From there, we watched as the legendary filmmaker took the stage. Accompanied by the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, Allen played clarinet while he sat, eyes closed for parts of the set, at the foot of the small stage. As the New Orleans jazz/New York funk music played for the 100 or so audience members, we found ourselves on a journey through Woody Allen’s New York.
This isn’t the first time the Cafe Carlyle has transported its guests back in time. In fact, that’s exactly what the one-time supper club is known for — hosting legendary performers like Elaine Stritch, Eartha Kitt and Bobby Short. But the magic ascends beyond the performances here. The Carlyle, a legendary fixture on New York’s Upper East Side, sets the stage for a legendary stay. The 35-story hotel was built in 1930 and, at the time, was one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan.
Despite the city’s altering skyline, The Carlyle continues to dominate the Upper East Side, much like the guests who check in here. The hotel has welcomed everyone from U.S. presidents and heads of state to famous musicians and actors. Today, The Carlyle boasts 124 elegant guestrooms and an Art Deco décor. Audubon prints and architectural renderings hang on the walls of each guestroom, which are mostly furnished in classic Louis XVI style and feature unbeatable views of New York. In the 64 suites, floor-to-celling windows offer priceless city scenes, and many are accompanied with baby grand pianos, marble floors and private art galleries.
Luxury seeps through the cashmere and suede-lined walls of the Empire suite, where you’ll also find original paintings, photographs and sculptures reminiscent of the city during the construction boom in the 1920s and 1930s. With a staff of painters, electricians, carpenters and creative geniuses on hand at The Carlyle, there’s never a chip, scrape or thread out of place. In keeping with changing trends, the hotel introduced a spa and full-service salon in 2008. The monochromatic-designed Sense spa, which is lit by crystal candelabras and drip-light chandeliers, is open to hotel guests and Manhattan locals seeking an urban retreat.
While The Carlyle has modernized its insides, the hotel still stands as a New York cultural icon. Step onto the black-and-white marble floors in its lobby, and you’ll likely see ladies passing by in furs or older gentleman tipping their hats in greeting. A walk through the halls of The Carlyle conjures up classic images — maybe from a personal memory or maybe from a Woody Allen movie — that reminds us that Manhattan still is the crest of culture, and the Upper East Side is still the land of luxury living.
Note:Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band are playing at the Cafe Carlyle through December 19. The entertainment calendar for the Cafe Carlyle can be found online. Tickets range from $85 to $175, and we suggest you arrive early to get your seats.
Photo courtesy of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel