Lap of Luxury: InterContinental New York Barclay

- Welcome to the Lap of Luxury. We visited the Intercontinental New York Barclay hotel and the newly renovated Presidential Suite. The Barclay Hotel opened in 1926, celebrating its 90th birthday last year.

General Manager Hervé Houdré says the hotel was part of what were then called "the railroad hotels" around Grand Central. The Barclay was part of the development of that area. Originally opened as a resident hotel for transient guests, it catered to the rich and discreet. Among The Barclay's rich and discreet guests was Ernest Hemingway, who lived there in 1940 while revising "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

In 1945, the hotel was the first in the world to put a birdcage in its lobby, inviting guests to bring their own birds during their stay.

33 years later, Intercontinental Hotels took over The Barclay, giving it a $30 million makeover.

In 1995, the hotel had a $20 million facelift. The next year it hosted President Bill Clinton during his re-election campaign.

Last April, The Barclay re-opened after its biggest renovation yet: a 20-month, $180 million project. Houdré says they totally gutted all 700 rooms and 31 suites. They moved the restaurant to the back of the public space and the bar to the front, so when people come in and out of the hotel they can enjoy the Gin Parlour, with more than 100 brands of gin.

The refurbished Presidential Suite has nearly doubled in size. Houdré says it is 3,300 square feet, with two bedrooms, fitness and living areas, private office, and kitchenette. Everything, he says, is meant for a president or high-ranking official. The first guest in the new suite was Vice President Joe Biden. Houdré says President Obama has also stayed, as well as foreign heads of state, royalty from Europe, and the CEOs of top companies throughout the world, plus some other famous faces.

Houdré loves the suite's new entrance, saying it immediately calls for a beautiful stay and tells guests right away that they're in the right place. The private fitness room has its own Peloton bike, elliptical machine, and treadmill.

The grand master bedroom has a Park Avenue residential feel. The master bathroom is all Italian marble, with a tub, mirror with its own television screen built in (showing Fox 5 of course!), plus a steam shower. Behind the dining area is an office that can be closed off for private meetings. The two living areas are separated by a gorgeous piano, and a mantle shipped from England.

The cost to stay in the same suite as past presidents is typically $20,000 to $30,000, depending on the season.

And who will stay here now that our current president has his own home in New York? Houdré says it's great to have a president who will reside in New York City from time to time and bring other presidents to stay here, hopefully at the Intercontinental New York Barclay.

He points out the strategic location right between Trump Tower and the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly is one of the busiest times of year at The Barclay. It has welcomed up to 33 delegations at one General Assembly, making it a hotel full of diplomats.

www.intercontinentalnybarclay.com

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