Always At The Carlyle
Directed by: Matthew Miele
Starring: Wes Anderson, George Clooney, Woody Allen, Jon Hamm, Alan Cumming, Naomi Campbell, Anjelica Huston, Lenny Kravitz, Fran Lebowitz, Vera Wang, Elaine Stritch and many, many more!
Run Time: 1h 32min
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
At the corner of Madison Avenue and 76th Street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side sits an exquisite and beautiful Rosewood hotel called The Carlyle, which has been described as the very definition of class. It’s a 35-story, 190 room hotel that has been there since 1930, complete with galleries, boutiques, and a famous Café’. The Carlyle has housed many of the most famous and well-off clientele from around the world who feel comfortable there, knowing that what goes on in the hotel stays at the hotel. In this documentary, director Matthew Miele does his best to get some private information out of people and though he has a hard time getting staff and other guests to give anything up, the goal he does achieve is letting us know of the existence of this distinguished landmark. While many of us can’t afford thousands of dollars to reserve a room at the elegant Carlyle, after watching this documentary I wish I could and you will, too.
I feel compelled to tell you that watching this on the big screen would be ideal for it may be the best way to appropriately appreciate its grandeur. If you can’t be there, this is the next best thing. Through watching ‘Always at the Carlyle’ you’ll be totally awestruck by what an exceptional experience staying there would be without stepping one foot inside its lobby.
Miele interviewed entertainers about the hotel who’ve stayed within its walls, as well as other ‘Loyal Guests’ and peppers their comments throughout the film. Some speak so highly of it and spend enough time there that it’s considered their second home. All throughout the hotel are magical reasons to stay, from dining to the personal touches they give each guest. Then there are the paintings that hang on the walls and the nostalgia one has for who stayed there previously such as Princess Diana, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and more. Some mention the energy each guest has left behind in their wake. The Carlyle is popular with famous guests of all types; Royals, those involved in the film industry, politicians, and sports figures, because most important to the guests is that whatever is said or done there stays there. JFK often stayed, and it’s rumored that Marilyn Monroe had a special way in. True or not true… what’s your opinion?
The Elevator Operator is said to have the best stories as they see everything going on, but they also have the ‘tightest lips,’ so you won’t learn anything from them! This is a key argument for paying such high prices, not to mention the luxurious surroundings you’re bathed in. Regardless of who’s on duty when someone checks in, the staff will not divulge their presence to anyone, not even their own spouse. With so many famous people walking through their doors, the staff does get blown away, they are human after all, but they don’t show it outwardly. They do seem to have some fun getting to talk about who they’ve seen for the documentary, however. They reveal very little but what is said is both fascinating and provocative.
Several staff members have become somewhat famous themselves. Dwight, a departing concierge at the time this was filmed, is one such example, very well known. Another is pianist and cabaret singer, Bobby Short, who played at the Café Carlyle for over thirty-five years. Bobby Short not only had an appearance in Woody Allen’s ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ in 1986, but Allen used Short’s version of the song ‘I Happen to Like New York,’ which is excellent by the way, for the opening to his film ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’ in 1993. Several talented musicians speak of how much they adored his music stylings, some of whom play there now. Lenny Kravitz tells of how much he was influenced by the man.
Possibly not surprisingly, Donald Trump says the Carlyle is a joke. This is a comment Bill Murray has a little fun with as he happens to love the place and feels obliged to protect it. Others, and there are many, have only positive things to say. Vera Wang mentions how unique it is, George Clooney can’t help but go on and on about how much he loves it there and why wouldn’t he? He is a staff favorite and knows it. He and Anthony Bourdain talk about the rooms breathtaking views but one of it’s biggest compliments comes from Jon Hamm who says when you’re there it, ‘feels like you made it.’ Piers Morgan covers the monarchy and fills us in on how loved it is by the palace, calling it a royal place which makes sense as the builder of the hotel built it to rival the glorious, stately hotels of Europe.
This is a special documentary. I recommend it because it’s not often you get to see celebrities talk about something other than their latest projects. Here we also have, before she died, Elaine Stritch, a legend, talking about how wonderful it was to stay there. Watch for a special scene during the credits regarding what the hotel did for her. The examples of extraordinary service this establishment delivers that are shown in this film, are enchanting. Shots of the building in the gorgeous New York Skyline will make you wish upon a star that you could be whisked away to a room there during any time period and get a chance to experience just a hint of what the well to do have… if even for a moment. Wes Anderson describes being at the Carlyle as though you’re, ‘Stepping back in time.’ One guest has had over 11,000 overnight stays, a record for which he carries as a ‘Badge of Honor.’ See the film at a theatre near you today to see what they’re all talking about.
Opens in Phoenix this weekend at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre and the Harkins / Shea.
Social Media for the film:#AlwaysAtTheCarlyle
For more information please visit the Carlyle’s website or follow the hotel’s social media channels