wHere TO Stay
Rules of Civility
So - I'm what you might call a Breakfast at Tiffany's enthusiast. l went to see everything I could find that had anything to do with the novella. However, I realize not everyone shares that same level of enthusiasm. So - I've sifted through my finds and ranked them in importance based on in what they reveal about Holly and Fred and maybe even Truman Capote and also by how interesting they are as a place to trip on. As a result, the list bops around the city. Now if you're all in and you want to see everything I uncovered - I've listed the stops by neighborhood below. And if you're going with your book club - you'll find a complete itinerary if you click on Book Club above.
Joe Bell's Bar
Central Park Zoo
5th Avenue Parade
The Pierre Hotel
768 5th Avenue
New York, NY
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:
“Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day traffic, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved. Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, art the Pierre and the Plaza.” Page 83
In Real Life:
It’s no surprise Truman Capote used the Plaza Hotel in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to track Fred’s wild jaunt on a horse through Central Park. It’s very well known – probably more well known than the Duke, the Frick, and the Pierre. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks – when it comes to hotels in New York City – and probably even the world. It opened in 1907, the first guests moved in – the fabulously wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Gwyne Vanderbilt – and ever since it’s been a magnet for the rich and famous. When Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s he was neither rich nor famous. He was renting a room in Brooklyn. So, maybe tossing the Plaza onto the landscape of his novel was aspirational. Years later – when Capote was rich and famous – after the runaway success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and, of course, In Cold Blood, he threw a huge party at the Plaza and invited people he considered “A” list guests. In fact, Deborah Davis wrote a book about it. It’s called, Party of the Century, The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and his Black and White Ball.
So, back to the hotel – it went from hand to hand over the years since it opened. Among the owners – Conrad Hilton, who bought it in 1943, Donald Trump – who bought it from Westin Hotels in 1988 and it is poised to change hands again – American venture capitalist Shahal Khan put a group together to buy the hotel.
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s – nothing happens at the Plaza – a horse just gallops by it. But – I’ve tracked a few books in New York City and all but one them take me to the Plaza Hotel. So – I’ve had lunch at the Todd English Food Hall – I’ve stared shamelessly into the Palm Court where Rod Stewart was having lunch, I’ve chatted with the bellmen who star in one of the reads – searched for Suite 1801 featured in yet another and generally taken a lot of pictures of it. It seems to me, no matter who owns the hotel, it just keeps marching on to its own fabulous beat, grounding that corner of Central Park and giving it purpose. And no matter what I’m there for – Truman Capote and his galloping heroine always come to mind.
2 East 61st
New York, NY 10065
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:
“Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day raffia, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved. Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, art the Pierre and the Plaza.” Page 83
In Real Life:
Truman Capote used the Pierre Hotel as a marker to tell everyone where, exactly, the wild horse was taking Fred, the narrator of the tale, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Now. Fred galloped by it, trapped on a horse, in quite the rush – but I thought I would stop and examine it. The Pierre is beautiful. And that was the plan Charles Pierre Casalasco had when he closed his very successful restaurant in New York City, which catered to the rich and famous and – with the help of investors – set his sights on running a hotel. The Pierre opened its doors in 1930. Bad timing. It just couldn’t survive the Great Depression and it went bankrupt in just three years. Then in 1938, J. Paul Getty – the oil guy – bought the hotel. It regained its footing. It’s cafe – The Cafe Pierre – gave the hotel a boost by attracting everyone who was anyone in the New York City social scene.
Let’s pause right here for a minute. That’s about the time Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s – but also around the time the narrator is looking back to – in the novel – 1943. So, it’s no surprise Capote dropped the name – just like that – in his novel because he was a man ab out town in Manhatten – and he probably hung out at the hotel.
Enter me – sixty-something years later. The hotel has changed hands a couple of times but now it’s a Taj Hotel and it still attracts its big-name guests from around the world. I loitered in the lobby and found it reminiscent of the Carlye Hotel – dignified and serene. Then weirdly – many months later when I was writing this post I discovered the two hotels are connected – by one man Robert Dowling, who managed the Carlye also managed the Pierre for a time starting in 1960. It says it right here in his obituary. Anyway – I paused in the Rotunda which has new life as a dining experience. I zipped through the old Pierre Cafe which now calls itself Perrine and has a new Indian chef who seems to be turning the right heads. And then – since nothing really happened there in the novel – I ran out of things to do but promised myself I would come back one day to enjoy the Rotunda or Perrine.
Oh – one more thing. I don’t do movies but Audry Hepburn lived at the Pierre while she was making Breakfast at Tiffany’s.