By Terry Trucco
A suite is supposed to have more than one room, but what about a secret room?
At first glance the Carlton’s new Speakeasy Suite consists of a freshly renovated bedroom outfitted with 1920s inflections like a Stickley bureau and an imposing sleigh bed upholstered in leather the color of that forbidden 20s brew, bourbon. But a strategically placed bookcase turns out to be a door that opens onto a hidden room. Behold: a chip-laden poker table, a (non-working) tommy gun, slouchy leather chairs and a private bar stocked with 21st-century libations, an agreeable anachronism. Burnishing the theme, at turndown guests receive alcohol-laced mini-cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery (motto: Please Eat Responsibly).
The Carlton has rank-and-file suites among its 317 rooms. But last month the 108-year-old
hotel unveiled five no-two-alike themed suites in synch with a flourishing trend. The Plaza hotel boasts the Eloise Suite, Bestey Johnson’s hyper-pink dreamscape with striped wallpaper and zebra-print carpeting. At the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, the focal point of Jonathan Adler’s Barbie Suite – more pink! – is a sunburst mirror is constructed from 65 Barbie dolls. To date the St. Regis New York has suites channeling Tiffany, Dior and Bentley Motors. And those are just for starters.
Suites of all sorts are big news at the moment. W Union Square actually added suites during a recent renovation, spurred by guest demand, the hotel says.
But themed suites are a breed apart – pricier and quirkier. Their natural audience is guests in the market for something special – bridal parties, cocktail parties, business meetings, product launches, even filming sites (Smash and Elementary are just two of the TV shows filmed at the Carlton). The hotel may also on occasion offer a theme suite as a perk for their most loyal guests. “We won’t sell them every night, but I expect we will on weekends,” says Carlton General Manager Victor Freeman.
What’s on offer besides the Speakeasy Suite? The Broadway Diva is a visual riff on the dressing room of a leading lady in a hit musical, complete with a mirror framed in round lights, a bed dressed in a white faux fur throw and mirrors galore, including the mirrored coffee table.
The Terrace Suite celebrates another New York institution – the view from the top. The spacious living room – and terrace — overlook the Empire State Building, echoed in the suite’s framed black-and-white photos.
The two penthouse suites, renamed and refashioned, can stand alone or be connected to create a gigantic space. The Corner Pocket features a bar area with a restored 1950s Brunswick Centennial billiards table and a sitting area with a wrap-around sofa whose seven throw pillows that spell CARLTON. The sprawling sitting room of the adjoining-if-you-like New Yorker Suite is anchored by a 12-foot Chesterfield clad in silvered leather and a black lacquer 1960s Italian console table. Framed New Yorker covers pepper the walls. The cityscape views aren’t bad, either.
Carlton, 88 Madison Avenue at East 29th Street. 212 532-4100.