Day 16 – St Regis Hotel
5th Avenue and 55th Street

This is the heart of 5th Avenue. Within a stone’s throw of this magnificent Beaux Arts building (pronounced ‘bow-zar’, according to my French friend who could barely contain his laughter when I waxed lyrical about this fabulous architectural style, my pronunciation clearly like nothing he’d ever heard before) is Cartier, Henri Bendels, Bergdorf Goodman, FAO Schwartz, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdales and on and on. (Incidentally, on the opposite corner is The Peninsula – another hotel of similar style and size and yet to be visited by this author.)
My impression is this place has undergone a recent renovation and it’s nicely done. The staff too are genuinely among the nicest I’ve met in New York. I watched them speaking with each other several times and there seemed a true camaraderie. No one hurried me, though I stayed for over three and a half hours.
It was only on the way out that my waitress pointed out the famous artwork in the bar (which I wasn’t sitting in at 9am, in case you were wondering).
See the pano attached. Here’s the story behind it.
The St Regis was built by John Jacob Astor, one of the wealthiest men in America. It opened in 1902. Astor already had a (now-demolished) hotel just down the road called the Knickerbocker and had commissioned a painting for it by Maxfield Parrish – ‘Old King Cole’. It’s a monster measuring 8 feet high and 30 feet wide. The joke is that the King is modelled after Astor himself and that he’s shown in the act of, ahem, flatulating. Astor had the painting moved to the St Regis when it opened and it has sat majestic over the bar ever since (though the bar has moved around the hotel once or twice). The bar is beautiful and along with the painting is famous for being the birthplace of the Bloody Mary. Astor was to die aboard the Titanic – the wealthiest man to do so.

Salvador Dali lived at the hotel every fall and winter throughout the 60’s and 70’s.
I drank coffee and had vichyssoise for lunch. Seemed the thing to do in a French-inspired hotel.

Today’s word count: 2,949
Word count to date: 41,503

  • Maxfield Parish’s ‘Old King Cole’. The Bloody Mary was invented in this bar.

  • Beaux Arts beauty

  • WIP in very comfortable surrounds (and wonderful staff too)

  • The Author (once again) looking down his nose at you from the delightful St Regis

  • This is a hand towel

  • One of the beautiful staircases. Note the lights built into the balustrade

  • Without a doubt one of the most beautiful hotels in New York