Score one for The Mark.
New York’s most boldly lavish hotel, to quote the Mark tagline, is known for stylish rooms devised by celebrated French designer Jacques Grange, a sophisticated bar scene and super chef Jean George Vongrichten’s glamorous restaurant The Mark, which also provides room service. Add a royal baby shower to its credits.
On Wednesday The Mark Penthouse was the site of a shower for the pregnant Duchess of Sussex, née Meghan Markle. The guest list, numbering less than 20, included Amal Clooney, TV host Gayle King, Markle’s personal stylist Jessica Mulroney and co-hosts Serena Williams and Genevieve Hillis, a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sister and long-time friend of the duchess.
In addition to food prepared by the Vongrichten team, the party featured a flower arranging lesson by white-hot florist Lewis Miller, who counts Chanel, Vogue and the New York Public Library as clients — and who has taught flower arranging classes at The Whitby Hotel. The results, as King disclosed to CBS This Morning viewers, were donated to Repeat Roses, an organization that dispatches gently used flowers from parties and events to hospitals, hospices and homeless shelters.
There was more than enough space for flower arranging as well as eating, gifting and celebrating in the penthouse. House is more like it. At 10,000 square feet, the Mark Penthouse is largest hotel penthouse in the U.S. — and at $75,000 a night, the costliest. Gobbling up two floors of the hotel, it has five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, two powder rooms and two wet bars. The living room boasts a 26-foot ceiling and can be transformed into a ballroom when the need arises. The kitchen is outfitted with an enormous wine cooler and sleek wood floor. It could turn out a banquet. There’s also a conservatory, a library lounge and a 2,500 square foot terrace with a dining area (alas, it snowed the day of the shower).
As he did every other inch of the hotel, the talented Grange designed the penthouse. Unveiled in 2015, it’s a feast of creamy white ceilings and walls punctuated by sleek custom furniture and original art that’s photo ready for Architectural Digest, a coffee table design book or Instagram. My favorite detail: the witty zebra-stripe floors you see in the hotel lobby turn up in a penthouse bathroom.
Built in 1927, the Mark started life as an upscale residential hotel in an unassuming brick Renaissance Revival building (the spacious guest rooms included small kitchens). Its fortunes rose and fell over the years, but never tanked given its tony Upper East Side location. A dramatic spruce up in 1989 pointed it upward, as I discovered when I stayed in 1997 (I loved my room’s black and white Deco-esque bathroom). But what you see now is the result of a seismic overhaul that closed the place from 2006 to 2009 and transformed it from a nice, stylish $350-a-night ($250-on-weekends) hotel with a few quirks to a $650-a-night-and-up international luxury lair where Frederic Fekkai occasionally does hair, celebrities check in to get dressed for the Met gala and tennis stars throw baby showers.
But it appears she did not visit The Carlyle, the nearby Art Deco tower favored a generation ago by Princess Diana — and more recently by William and Kate. Different royal, different vibe, different hotel.