The Warwick New York

By Terry Trucco

At a glance: We wouldn’t call it Hearst Castle East, but The Warwick shares some intriguing ties with San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst’s California showpiece.

The infamous newspaper tycoon, inspiration for the film Citizen Kane, built both in the 1920s. Each sports a fanciful façade (check out the wildly gothic arched terraces near the top of the Warwick’s 36-story brick tower). Like the castle, the Warwick courted movie stars (Hearst built it as an apartment hotel for starlet Marion Davies, his long-time paramour, and their showbiz friends).

But that was then. Though lively for a historic property, with a bustling bar and an agreeable midtown location, today’s Warwick is a nice, middle-of-the-road place where guests are more likely to watch Broadway shows than appear in them.

If you haven’t visited in a while, the brightly lighted lobby is a pleasant surprise, with its glittering crystal chandelier, ivory walls and polished white stone floor, peppered with black cabochons. Though spare, the sleek gray sofa flanked by mirrored side tables and nearby club chairs are attractive as is the classic round table, topped with fresh flower arrangements, a fragrant 21st-century wink at classic hotel blooms.

You can curl up for a chat, peruse a book  (the handsome carved wood bookcase is well-stocked) or watch a parade of mostly well-heeled business and leisure guests, including families, pile into wood paneled elevator cabins redolent of the Roaring 20s.

Rooms: Typical of this vintage, rooms range from very small, many with dark interior views (brick wall, anyone?), to palatial with vast vistas that allow you to drink in the sweep of Sixth Avenue and Central Park. The largest are like small apartments.

Premier rooms are comfortable, well appointed and classically hotel-ish, ie pleasingly bland: cream walls, imposing wood-framed tufted headboards, white sheeting bedcovers dressed with velvet throw pillows and wall-to-wall carpeting.

Suites look like larger — much larger — versions of the rooms. And a lively collect of eight Signature Suite, one-of-a-kind creations inspired by William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies and their Roaring 20s cohorts, are sprawling, stylish and colorful with hard wood floors and flashy bathrooms.

Food and drink: Murals on 54 is a sprawling dining room and historic showpiece, garnished with Dean Cornwell’s wildly colorful, beautifully restored paintings, ca 1937, depicting the exploits of Sir Walter Raleigh. (Our guess: Hearst was trying to one-up the Maxfield Parrish backdrop at the St. Regis King Cole Bar.) Breakfast is the only meal, and you pay dearly for the historic setting.

The mood is more relaxed across the hall at Randolph’s Bar and Lounge, a congenial, clubby wood-paneled room, where the wait staff sport waist coats and bartenders chat with guests. The sweetly retro room jumps at night, packed with guests and after-work locals.

Amenities: Gilchrist & Soames toiletries in bathrooms. The business center is small, but the fitness center is well equipped. WiFi included in the $25 daily facility fee.

Surroundings: A superb location if you want Midtown and all its glories. The Museum of Modern Art, t he American Folk Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design and the Paley Center Museum of Radio and Television are nearby. City Center, home to visiting dance and theater companies, is a block away. Lincoln Center, Time Warner Center (home to Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Broadway theaters are walkable or a short cab ride. The area is packed with restaurants in all price ranges, and Rockefeller Center, Central Park and Fifth Avenue shopping are nearby. Transportation is also convenient: the bus stops next to the hotel (the subway stop is a couple blocks away).

Back story: The Warwick started life in 1926 as a 36-story apartment hotel – one of the tallest in the world at the time – designed by architect Emory Roth (Hotel Belleclaire, the Benjamin Hotel) and built for $5 million by William Randolph Hearst, who awarded his girlfriend Marion Davies an entire floor. Hearst also bankrolled the nearby Ziegfield movie theater, which is still in business. Movie stars followed, among them Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball and Cary Grant, who kept a terrace apartment here for 12 years. Elvis Presley and the Beatles stayed here, too. But by the 1980s, a worn-out Warwick sported a dark, dirty lobby and hideous wallpaper. Renovation occurred in 2001, and in 2006, designer Pierre Court (the Plaza Athenee, Paris; the Palace and Villard Bar in New York) restored the public spaces. Public spaces were freshened  in 2017 (we miss the witty rosebud-patterned carpeting in Randolph’s Bar). Rooms were renovated in 2012 and have been refreshed regularly.

Keep in mind: There’s a daily $25 facility fee added to your bill. It includes standard WiFi, use of the fitness room and business center and local, long distance and 800-number phone cals.

The Warwick

65 West 54th Street at Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10019