How have I not been here before? And when can come I back again? These were the main thoughts running through my mind as I was sipping a fresh-squeezed lemonade accented by muddled berries and lush mint leaves (oh, and vodka, let’s not forget the vodka) at the rooftop garden of The Surrey Hotel in New York City.
When I had been invited to tour the Surrey and enjoy drinks at the rooftop garden, I was intrigued to check out this legendary Manhattan hotel less than half a mile from where I live. The Surrey was built in 1926 as a residential hotel, attracting society-types that wanted a place to stay in the city for weeks or months at a time. While the likes of Bette Davis and RFK stayed there, the hotel had acquired a bit of a staid reputation over the years — a rep it most definitely shed after an extensive interior renovation in 2009 that cost more than $60 million. Now it’s black and white and cool all over.
I took a tour of the rooms, which were sleek and gorgeous and would fit right into to any of the multi-million-dollar apartments in this exclusive part of the Upper East Side. But it was the hotel’s rooftop garden that won me over. I had visions of bringing friends there and impressing them with how in-the-know I was. And enjoying the views and the drinks all over again. But mostly I was excited to show off this new find.
But then I learned that this rooftop was for Surrey Hotel guests only! What a bummer — for non-guests like myself. But this has to be one of the best hotel perks I’ve ever heard about. Plus it explained the laid-back vibe. If this place was open to the public, it would be mobbed.
So I can’t revisit the rooftop garden (sigh) but I do plan to plan to return to check out the ground-floor Bar Pleaides. This restaurant/lounge with fare by Daniel Boulud looks just like a Chanel purse, which is perfect because there must be more Chanel purses in a three block radius around the Surrey than anywhere else in the world. Even Paris. Actually, this little pocket of the city reminds me of Paris, but that’s a whole other post.