Manhattan More-Than-Survival Guide (#2)


MY FAVORITE LUXURY UPPER EAST SIDE PIT STOP: If you follow my directions carefully, you can enjoy the atmosphere of one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, without getting odd looks. This works best if you are dressed “halfway decent”. The Carlyle Hotel (981 Madison Avenue, 35 East 76th St.) is somewhat intimidating, but the trick is to know about Ursus Rare Books, a charming store located on the mezzanine level. Use the Madison Avenue entrance. Just inside the door there is a staircase which leads to Ursus. They have to buzz you in but don’t hesitate to enter. Browse around. There is a comfy, cushioned window seat and the staff is low-key. They will accept a “just browsing” customer and leave you alone. There is also a gallery to peruse. On your way out, you can grab a free Gallery Guide.

Need to refresh yourself? Go back downstairs, turn right, whip around the corner and look for the well-preserved dames of the tea room (“The Gallery“). Hang a right for the ladies room. (I forgot to check for placement of facilities for the gents; will update!) Thick, high-class paper towels and Moulton Brown toiletries are at your disposal and there is no attendant to tip. If you want to check out the Madeleine murals in Bemelsmans lounge, go back through the tearoom, pop into the bar and ask the bartender some lame question like, “What time does the music start?” (I have not figured out how to get free eats and drinks, but I am working on it.)

Head back past the ladies room, go left toward reception and you will find a lovely sitting area across from the elevators. I like to take out my Gallery Guide at this point and get circling. Observe the choreography of the Carlyle’s extensive, uniformed staff and gaze at the crystal logs in the fireplace. Do not take a nap on the daybed. Exit onto 76th street. (Just short of the revolving door, to your left, is a room that seems to have complimentary copies of various newspapers. I did not have the nerve to take one. Maybe you do.) 

Don’t all rush over today or they might get suspicious.

(If you actually want to stay here, the “cheap” rooms start at about $600.) 


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