Next time I open a can of Chef Boyardee, I’m going to think of the Plaza Hotel…
By Victoria Teague
Just walking past the carpeted entry to the Plaza Hotel evokes a certain nostalgia for the New York City of past decades, and for the lives of its glamorous residents. The Plaza’s history is rich and eventful, full of parties and scandal, but here are some little known secrets you may not know about the beautiful hotel.
Today it may be one of the most expensive hotels in the world, but the land on which The Plaza now sits used to be the Fifth Avenue Pond. The New York Skating Club would use it in the winter as a private skating rink.
From the very beginning it’s been only the best for the Plaza, so it only seems right that the introduction of the very first New York City motorized cabs coincided with the Plaza’s opening day. Signaling the decline of horse-drawn carriages, their drivers weren’t too pleased at the time, but today the area around the Plaza is swarming with horse-drawn carriages so looks like they showed them!
The Royal Plaza Suite is the very best room at the Plaza, providing its lucky guests with a library, dining room, kitchen, grand piano, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms. All for only $30,000 a night! It’s a steal right? And the best part is, if you need to make a quick exit, they’ve got you covered with a secret exit located in the master bathroom.
More of a really fun fact than a secret, the real live Chef Boyardee once worked in the Plaza’s kitchen! That’s right, Ettore “Hector” Boiardi got a job at the Plaza when he moved to New York City as a teenager and worked his way up to head chef before moving to Cleveland.
Everyone’s favorite Plaza resident had a watercolor portrait commemorating her hanging on the wall of the hotel’s lobby when the book was first released. If you walk through the corridor of the Palm Court today, you’ll still see Eloise’s cute little smirk looking down at you, but it’s not the original portrait. The first went missing the night a college dance was held at the Plaza in 1960 and is unfound to this day.
Also thanks to Eloise, the Plaza built a tricycle garage in 1956 that would provide free tricycles for hotel guests or rent out the space for 15 cents a day. Rumor has it the tricycle garage may emerge again at some point, for a future generation of Eloise’s to enjoy.
We all have Macaulay Culkin to thank for the beautiful mosaic floor seen today in the Plaza’s lobby. Why, you may ask? Well, the lobby used to have wall-to-wall carpeting, but when Home Alone 2 was being filmed, the film crew asked then owner Donald Trump if they could remove it to film a stunt where Kevin slides into an elevator. Trump gave them permission, and, after seeing the gorgeous floor underneath, the carpet never went back down.
The penthouse suite is notoriously the best room in the building, but for those wanting to stay on the top floors of the Plaza, the joke is on them. It turns out, because the elevator was such a new invention at the time of the Plaza’s construction, the service wasn’t great and people actually preferred to live on the lower floors. Because of this, the grandest rooms in the Plaza are still on the fifth floor and below.