020f.jpg (30024 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Barbizon (Melrose) Hotel


Palmer H. Ogden and  Partner (thanks to Don Ogden)


140 East 63rd St., at Lexington Ave.




eclectic blend of Italian Renaissance, Gothic and Islamic influences


banded stone, brick









Barbizon HotelIt's said Grace Kelly danced down the halls clad only in her skivvies. Candice Bergen, Joan Crawford, Liza Minelli and Ali McGraw also called The Barbizon home.

Chaperoned, with no men allowed above the first floor, this was "New York's Most Exclusive Hotel Residence for Young Women". When I was a kid, I figured I'd live at the Barbizon when I made it big in New York. I never did either.

A lifetime later, I arrive at the "born-again" Barbizon. Newly renovated to the tune of $40 million, the Barbizon is now a great place for both boys and girls. The brick and carved honey-sandstone building is a beaut. A large old tapestry, a faux skylight and striped silk settee adorn the modestly sized art deco lobby.

The jewel in the new Barbizon's crown, however, is my 18th floor suite and its cloistered terrace. Strolling through the arches that top Corinthian pillars, I survey Manhattan below. These vast views are protected by a judicious 1926 purchase of surrounding air rights. Perfect for contemplating, dining or cocktailing al fresco.

If you need to give a small (or even not so small) party while you are in New York, this would be a great venue. The terrace wraps around two sides of the suite. Chaises, wrought iron tables, chairs, potted trees and flowers complete the setting. At night, boxed spots illuminate the carved sandstone, rendering a soft light and not obscuring the view.

The TerraceIf weather moves your party inside, well, lets hope you didn't get carried away with your invite list. The accommodations, however, will suit.

The living room with large windows and French doors has a lovely feeling of space and light. The eclectic décor is a delightful mix of traditional and modern pieces with Chinese accents.

Close off your bedroom and bath with the sliding pocket doors. Guests have their own vanity room--they don't have to mess up yours. Entertain with the Sony TV\VCR Marantz sound system.

You entertain---I'm going to soak in the huge Jacuzzi tub, listen to Mozart and use up all the doodads the amenities fairy left. I love this bathroom.

When I'm done, I'll grab my warmed bath sheet and shuffle off in my Barbizon slippers and robe. Perhaps, I will call for a massage on the terrace.

All this sounding too languorous for you? Then get thee to the health club! The Barbizon leases its 40,000 sq. ft health facility to none other than The Equinox AND its complimentary for Barbizon guests.

swimming poolSwim under the palms in the original mosaic tile swimming pool (yep, the very one that Ali and Grace played in.) Workout on torture equipment of the highest order. Take classes, saunas, spa treatments or parley with a personal trainer.

Now I suppose you're hungry. Got that covered too. We are, after all, in New York and The Barbizon is surrounded by restaurants.

If you don't want to move, order up some crispy fried calamari from the 24-hour room service or, if its still the AM, drop into the Breakfast Room.

Now, get moving---you're in a great location (East 63rd Street at Lexington). Go to the theater, it’s a $4 cab ride to Times Square. It’s a 5-minute walk to Central Park, and a mile to museum mile.

And for the topper, you're just 2 blocks from Bloomingdale's. What more could you want?

Work??? You say you came to New York to work? Too bad. Well, plug your computer into that data port gizmo, check your e-mail and get going. Didn't lug your computer to NYC? Give the Barbizon some notice and they'll supply a laptop and/or a fax. Now take the portable phone from your room and go slave away on the terrace. Beats the office, n'est-ce pas?

A sweet suite deal indeed. 

By Kate Crawford      March, 1999

Once the most famous hotel in New York -- for women only. Young women began leaving the traditional family home in search of career opportunities brought on by the era's economic expansion. The Barbizon provided a refuge for many of these women, and its owners sought to create an environment that reinforced the values of the families from which the women had come. Codes of Conduct and Dress were enforced, no men were allowed above the lobby floor, and prospective tenants needed three letters of recommendation to be considered. Despite these apparent constraints, the Barbizon later hosted many social, intellectual and athletic activities and, and in recent years attracted a variety of famous tenants, including entertainers Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen and Liza Minnelli. The Barbizon was also active in promoting women's organizations, providing meeting space to groups such as the National Junior League, the Arts Council of New York, and the Wellesley College Club. Today, the Barbizon operates as a standard hotel. The Barbizon first admitted men in 1981 and in 2002, after a $40 million renovation, became the Melrose Hotel. The Barbizon was the first stop in New York for professional, educated women, including Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, and Candice Bergen. Designed as an eclectic mix of Italian renaissance, Gothic, and Islamic architecture, this lovely old building with its twin deco towers, stands out majestically amongst the glass and steel of its Upper East Side location. The lobby has a beautiful marble-and-limestone floor and gilt chairs with mohair upholstery. From a dorm-size petite room to a stately, sprawling tower suite, the range of rooms and the corresponding rates can also be considered eclectic. You can spend as little as $150 a night or as much as $1,700. All rooms, no matter the size, are well kept, offer plenty of light, and are equipped with all the basic amenities. Standard and superior rooms come with small workstations, while the magnificent (and very expensive) tower suites come with terraces, some as large as 500 square feet. There is a very good Equinox Fitness Club and Spa with a nearly 60-foot-long (18m) pool on the premises; inexplicably, guests must pay an $18 fee daily to use it. The Library Bar in the lobby serves light snacks throughout the day and the hotel has a "Sign and Dine" program with some highly rated local restaurants. A few blocks from Bloomingdales, Madison Avenue, and Central Park, The Melrose is a nice mid-range alternative to other more pricey hotels in the area.

In 1930, Molly Brown's health began to deteriorate. She became a lonely woman living in her past glories. By 1931 Molly was living in New York at the Hotel Barbizon. This was a popular hotel for young actresses and the aging Mrs. Brown seemed out of place. On October 26, 1932, Molly suffered a number of strokes and died, alone, in her less than palatial hotel room. She died almost penniless. After a small funeral, Molly was buried, next to JJ in Long Island, New York at the Holy Rood Cemetery. Molly was 65 at the time of her death.

• Melrose: Formerly the Barbizon, a "boarding house" for women that opened in 1927, the 306-room property is a rarity in New York: The hotel is well positioned among smart shops and restaurants, is fairly priced and offers spacious rooms. The lobby is rich with marble, cherry wood and tawny teacup chairs, and an adjoining bar/restaurant called the Library serves lunch and dinner. The rooms, meanwhile, feel very Laura Ashley, with sea-foam blue carpeting, Matisse prints and white shutters, and the bathrooms are big enough to twirl in. We found the front desk less than pleasant, but we rinsed away any ill will with our room's sea fennel-scented toiletries. 

One Barbizon Place, Lexington Avenue at 63rd Street, 800-MELROSE,  . Rates from $168, though we paid $144 through

Barbizon is the name of a village near Paris where a few famous artists, including Corot and Millet, gathered in the middle of the 19th century, finding there inspiration for their paintings of rural landscapes. Perhaps you will find inspiration in this modern-day setting.



Phone: 212/838-5700 or 800/635-7673
Fax: 212/888-4271