Condé Nast Traveler recently revealed the results of its 28th annual Readers' Choice Awards and New York's only Relais & Chateaux hotel, The Surrey, was recognized as the best hotel in New York City. In an interview with Troy Pade, General Manager of The Surrey, we discussed the hotel’s legendary history, expansive accommodations, $31M art collection, fine dining scene, and much more.
Haute Residence: With an incredible 90-year history, what have been some of the most defining features of The Surrey that have allowed it to maintain its top-tier luxury standard, reputation, and service?
Troy Pade: There is a long and deep connection between our team and our guests. We have many associates who have been providing service to our guests for more than 20 years. They know the guests by name, their children’s names, and their grandchildren's names. They know all of their preferences, from their preferred wake up time to the exact way they like their coffee in the morning. One cannot achieve this level of service as a brand new hotel.
In terms of accommodations, how would you define the range of rooms and suites available, and in particular, what makes the penthouse and presidential suites so unique?
Our minimum-sized room is quite large for the Upper East Side area, starting at around 350 square feet to our most expansive suite––the Presidential Suite––which is afforded a formal dining room, grand piano, balcony views of Central park, and a sauna in the oversized bathroom. I, personally, love our penthouse suite. It is the only room on the 17th floor, and it has a massive outdoor terrace with stunning views of the Upper East Side, the Met, and Central Park.
Tell us a little bit about the arts program at The Surrey. How did this idea come about and what can guests expect in terms of visuals throughout the hotel?
During the renovation, our owners, Patrick Denihan and Brooke Barrett, who are very much patrons of the arts, wanted to highlight our location as it relates to some of the top cultural institutions of the world. Our collection is valued at $31 million, and it is a very eclectic collection of works by Richard Serra, Chuck Close, and Claes Oldenburg to name a few. I think the close portrait of model Kate Moss has become our signature piece, welcoming every guest who graces our lobby. We have recently introduced Natasha Schlesinger as our Art Expert in Residence. She will be assisting The Surrey as we further deepen our connection with the art community.
How would you describe the atmosphere, cocktails, and cuisine of Bar Pleiades and Michelin-starred Café Boulud?
Bar Pleiades is the neighborhood meeting spot. Dark and elegant, always buzzing with all seats filled by 6 p.m.. This would be the “power drinks” spot during the week for a certain crowd, not a place to be seen, as much as it is a scene. Recently, I was in the bar and observed a titan of finance and publishing magnate sipping a 100-year-old scotch and Margaux. Meanwhile, across the room, a fashion designer with an eponymous Madison Avenue store was chatting up a top celebrity talk show host about the Hamptons benefit they both had recently attended.
Café Boulud is a staple for the Upper East Side. For almost 20 years, this legendary restaurant has been serving three meals a day to this neighborhood. The restaurant is subdued––almost a contradiction to Bar Pleiades––simple, reserved and very refined. Chef Aaron Bludorn has been able to make the food relevant without alienating its most loyal clientele.
If you were to advise guests on the perfect weekend to enjoy the sights and sounds of New York City, what would be your top three recommendations?
There is nothing more quintessential than a stroll through Central Park regardless of the season––during a snow fall or a sunny summer day. It is a typical New Yorker’s backyard, something not to be missed.
I truly feel that Upper Madison is more quintessential New York, as the streets are filled with its local residents and less out-of-towners. The best people watching in the summer is sitting on the bench outside Sant Ambroeus, eating a scoop of gelato.
As chaotic as this sounds, there is something very electric about Grand Central, I’m not there that often, but when I find myself there, after work I like to meet friends at the upstairs hideaway, Campbell Apartment or downstairs at the Oyster Bar.