The Pierre Hotel’s Elegant Renovation

Carin Baer/AMC

After a two-year renovation, New York’s grande dame will be quiet no more.

Swanky is the word we’re looking for. The Pierre hotel, recently unveiled anew after a $100 million renovation, is not hip, trendy, crowded, nor loud. There’s no club in the penthouse or red velvet rope at the door. “When Charles Pierre opened the hotel in 1930,” says General Manager Heiko Kuenstle—and yes, he recognizes the irony in the post-crash timing—“he wanted a place that was elegant and discreet. There already was the Plaza, with its over-the-top Beaux Arts exuberance. And the Waldorf-Astoria, in its Art Deco glory. The Pierre was to be different: an understated grande dame.” It still is. Though the renovation included a redecoration of all the common areas—the lobby, the legendary ballrooms—by designer Alexandra Champalimaud, those who once came to The Pierre for a debutante cotillion, or maybe afternoon tea in the Rotunda, will feel at home. The black-and-white marble checkerboard floor still lines the main entrance, the Central Park ice-skating rink can still be seen from rooms above the 11th floor, and the murals and cloud-painted ceiling in the Rotunda remain. But this is no nostalgia trip: The 189 rooms have all been technologically revamped (“Two years ago,” says Kuenstle, “we had nineteen-inch Zenith TVs and no master switch”) and redecorated with a subtle subcontinental flair—lush textiles, dark carved woods, contemporary Indian art—to reflect the Taj Hotels’ management. Sceney London import Le Caprice has replaced the beloved but decidedly tired Café Pierre, with a Deco-decked room and a menu that includes a divine crispy duck salad and haute comfort fare like fish and chips. And there’s a clubby, beautifully lit bar called Two E. For those searching for Suite 435, the chosen site of the newly formed advertising agency in the Mad Men Season 3 finale, well, the fourth floor is now a series of WiFi-enabled executive meeting rooms. Don Draper doesn’t live here anymore.

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Rooms at The Pierre start at $600 (2 E. 61st St.; 212-838-8000;

Member of Fine Hotels, Resorts & Spas.