As New York City reopens fully this week, the Plaza Hotel, one of the most iconic hotels in the world, is also reopening its doors after being closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Plaza first opened its picturesque gilded doors back in 1907 and now, 114 years later, it’s ready to open them again and welcome guests from all over the world back to The Big Apple. The hotel has undergone renovations in the past, but has never been fully closed for this amount of time.

The Plaza invited Lonely Planet to come check out some of the updated amenities and service offerings before the official grand opening this week to the public. The iconic landmark is used to rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood elite, Heads of State and foreign dignitaries, so it seemed second nature for them to welcome a handful of media and cater to our every whim, something any guest of The Plaza can expect.

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Luxury rooms were renovated while the hotel was closed © Caitlin Riddell/Lonely Planet

After almost a year and a half spent in various forms of lockdown, the hotel is banking on the fact that tourists and locals alike will have a renewed desire to celebrate even the smallest of occasions this year, more than ever before. With weddings and larger events still on hold for the venue until September, we got a sneak peek at how they’re reimagining some of their most famous luxury suites as event spaces, featuring new custom package options. Think: a small, intimate wedding, an over-the-top proposal or a long-overdue family reunion.

Lonely Planet's Caitlin Riddell holds a drink in front of a fountain inside the Plaza NYC
Lonely Planet's Caitlin Riddell got a sneak peek inside the Plaza NYC on reopening day © Caitlin Riddell/Lonely Planet

While there are noticeable updates throughout the building to reflect increased health and safety standards – touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout, masks required when outside of your rooms and complementary PCR or rapid antigen tests for any guests (available to all, but not required), the hotel has not lost its historic and legendary appeal. In fact, it was impossible to tell it had been closed for so long, as every square inch of the building sparkled.

New York's Plaza Hotel famous guests

The French chateau-inspired building overlooking the southeast corner of Central Park, has been a National Historic Landmark since 1986 and also owns a spot on the US National Register of Historic Places. With 282 guest rooms, including 102 luxury suites, The Plaza is a true NYC treasure and joins the ranks of some of the other most legendary hotels around the world like the Taj Mahal in Mumbai, Claridge’s in London and the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, to name a few.

View of The Plaza and East Side from Central Park
The Plaza looks over Central Park ©Lisa Bronitt/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many guests may recognize The Plaza Hotel as the iconic landmark from films such as Home Alone 2 (featuring a cameo from former president Donald Trump), The Way We Were or The Great Gatsby, but it has other roots in pop culture as well.

Truman Capote hosted what’s often referred to as the “party of the century” in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom back in 1966. “The Black and White Ball” celebrated the completion of the author’s famed novel In Cold Blood. The guest list featured a who’s who of the era: Andy Warhol, Frank Sinatra, Rose Kennedy and more. All guests were required to wear masks, although not the kind we think of today. In true masquerade style, Capote thought this would encourage partygoers to be more uninhibited. The masks were removed at midnight and the party continued!

Dancing The Night Away
 Truman Capote  at his Black-and-White Ball held in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel ©Getty Images

World-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright arrived in New York in early 1953 to oversee the construction of the Guggenheim Museum and lived in The Plaza for the following six years.

While staying overnight in one of The Plaza’s luxury suites may not be feasible for all budgets, the hotel still offers something for many different types of travelers. The history buffs can grab a drink in the Oak Room where Cary Grant’s character got kidnapped in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1959 thriller North by Northwest, or stroll the same halls that Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Beatles once roamed.

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 Guests can wander the halls the Beatles and Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis once walked © Caitlin Riddell/Lonely Planet

The foodies can enjoy arguably the best Afternoon Tea in all of New York at The Palm Court on the first floor or grab a bite to eat in Todd English at The Plaza, a European-inspired specialty food hall on the concourse level, reopening later this year. Be sure to snag a macaron from Ladurée once it’s open!

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Afternoon tea is served at the Plaza. © Caitlin Riddell/Lonely Planet

If you’re in the mood to be pampered, the Guerlain Spa and Warren Tricomi Salon both offer countless massage, facial and grooming packages to leave you feeling refreshed and transformed.  

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A bath with a view at the Plaza © Caitlin Riddell/Lonely Planet

After a challenging year, especially in the city of New York, it's reassuring to know that trusted establishments like The Plaza are back, and even better than before.

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