Our rescue dog, a West Highland Terrier named Agrippina (aka “Aggie”), was traumatized 18 months ago when she spent a week or two on the streets of Bowie, Maryland, and is understandably terrified of wide roads, trucks and buses. So mostly, she confines herself to our block in Kips Bay. To coax her out of her fear, we plan trips around her. So last week, when we had to leave our apartment for a night (don’t ask), she spent it playing Eloise at The Lowell, the pet-friendly luxury boutique hotel just off Madison Avenue on East Sixty-Third Street, which has recently emerged from a three-year stem-to-stern remodeling.
With only seventy-four rooms, many with working wood-burning fireplaces and terraces, The Lowell has been an open secret within the wordly set that gravitates to Manhattan’s East Side. Privately owned and intimate, it’s been something of a shrinking violet. But the recent opening of Majorelle, restaurateur Charles Masson’s equally intimate French-Mediterranean restaurant in part of the adjacent space that had once been The Post House restaurant, was the first look many had at the all-new Lowell.
Aggie, as we call our pup, didn’t share a meal at The Lowell with us, but the moment we entered our fifteenth floor junior suite, she began bouncing with delight. She probably didn’t care about the new contemporary touches like the flat-screen TVs in every room (and the bathtub, too), the Apple Retina-display desktop computer on the desk, the well-equipped kitchenette or even the radiant heating in the bathroom floors, but like us, she knows cozy when she sees and feels it—and unlike the many older hotels that lose their character when re-envisioned, The Lowell has retained every bit of its historic charm, and added significant new enticements, too. These include puppy cupcakes, dog beds, and in-room libraries combining rare old works of fiction and social history with stacks of Assouline coffee-table tomes.
The owners, the Chartouni family, hired a new general manager, Heiko Kuenstle, away from the Pierre, and brought in White House interior designer Michael Smith in 2006 to collaborate with Design Director Dina DeLuca Chartouni, on a re-design of the penthouse that occupies the building’s top floor—and he did such a good job, the staff whispers, that one Chartouni promptly moved in (it is now available for guests). Mark Pinney, a London architect whose resume includes designs for Harrods, and Armani, Burberry and Apple stores, was added to the team to collaborate on the redesign of the ground-floor public rooms and Majorelle.
Among the additions are a redesigned lobby with a faux-painted library behind the reception desk; Jacques, a delightfully sexy little wood-paneled bar detailed with marble and antique mirrors; and the Library Club Room, a richly appointed fireplace-warmed lounge reserved for guests by day, but open to the public after 5 PM, with hand-painted paneling, French Oak parquet floors, enveloping seating and its own bar.
The Lowell renovation will continue in months to come with its Pembroke Room, where breakfast and tea are served, next up for re-invention. Aggie seems to be wondering when she can return. “I absolutely love The Lowell,” her eyes said a little sadly as we dragged her into a taxi for the short ride home.