1 March 2024 Susannah

Literary Hotels – The Plaza

The Plaza Hotel, New York

New York hotel The Plaza, was once a favoured haunt of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was not always well behaved there. One summer’s evening he staggered out of the hotel drunk and dived, fully clothed, into the Pulitzer Fountain (named after the newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer). This behaviour was a regular occurrence for Fitzgerald. He loved the hotel so much, and stayed there so often, that his friend Ernest Hemingway once commented that if Fitzgerald died, “we can take your liver out and give it to the Princeton Museum (and) your heart to The Plaza Hotel”. For a while the Fitzgeralds, always a couple on the move, lived nearby and used to dine at the hotel’s speakeasy basement restaurant, The Grill Room. He featured the restaurant in his 1922 novel The Beautiful and the Damned, and the hotel features in the concluding scenes of The Great Gatsby. Gatsby’s dream of getting Daisy is ruined in one of the Plaza’s rooms, when her husband Tom exposes him. The hotel’s luxuriousness forms the perfect background for Tom, and signifies all that Gatsby has aspired to.

To honour this great writer, The Plaza designed the Fitzgerald Suite in 2013 after a $450 million renovation in 2008. If you wish to stay, it will only cost you about US $2795 per night.

The building has 18 storeys, has a French-Renaissance façade, is situated on Fifth Avenue and Central Park, and it opened in 1907. Since that time, it has hosted many celebrities – Elizabeth Taylor, Enrico Caruso, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lennon and Jackie Onassis amongst them. It is an icon of New York City and one of the ‘Historic Hotels of America’. It has also hosted writers. Truman Capote loved to stay and hosted his famous Black and White Ball there. It is the setting for the Eloise series of children’s books by Kay Thompson (on Friday afternoons an Eloise High Tea is held in the Palm Court). I haven’t read the series, but it is evidently extremely popular with younger readers.

It’s also a popular film location – Home Alone 2, Funny Girl, Crocodile Dundee, Arthur and Sleepless in Seattle are just some of the movies shot there.

Have you been lucky enough to spend a night in this iconic establishment? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment here.

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Header image- The Plaza Hotel, New York, https://www.booking.com/hotel/us/the-plaza.en-gb.html

Comments (4)

  1. John

    Some readers might be interested to note that “Plaza Suite” has been on at the Genesian Theatre, closing TOMORROW, 2nd March. I liked it.

  2. Paula Cameron

    Hi Susannah,
    We have a funny story about the Palm Court dining room at The Plaza in New York.
    We were staying in an apartment opposite and booked a table with friends for a 9 am brunch in The Palm Court to celebrate Bob’s 60th Birthday. What a way to start an exciting day, we thought.
    Our friend ordered a rather special bottle of champagne. The waiter looked down at us and said, ” It’s rather early for champagne, sir.” We could not believe our ears!!
    Imagine F.Scott Fitzgerald or any other celebratory being refused alcohol at The Plaza.
    After a gentle chat with the manager, we did receive our champagne in a magnificent silver ice bucket served with grace and panache by a different waiter.
    We had a gorgeous morning in that beautiful room.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh, I love it. That waiter hopefully learned a lesson, and I agree that Fitzgerald would have been horrified, as would his friend Hemingway. In my view, it’s never too early for champagne, especially on a special birthday. Thanks for sharing that lovely story.

  3. Maria

    I enjoyed Fitzgerald’s writing when I was younger – flawed writing, but with many flashes of brilliance. Gatsby is overdue for a re-read and I don’t recall ever reading The Beautiful and the Damned. I’d love to stay at the Plaza and dine in the Palm Court one day. My daughter was very keen on the Eloise books when she was young, but she loved the Madeleine series more.

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