Woody Allen Recommendation for NYC: A Night at the Pierre Hotel; Drinks at the Carlyle

In the delightful 2020 Woody Allen film “A Rainy Day in New York”, Timothée Chalamet — the main character who essentially plays a young, good-looking Woody Allen — takes his girlfriend — a young Annie-Hall-like character played by Elle Fanning — to NYC for a night’s stay so she can do an interview with a famous director for her college newspaper.

Fanning plays the part of a naive young suburbanite and Chalamet the role of a young guy who knows the NYC ropes.

Scene from the Woody Allen movie “A Rainy Day in New York”, when the Timothée Chalamet character tells the Elle Fanning character that he is going to treat her to a night in NYC.

Early in the film, Chalamet arranges that:

“I’m going to make a reservation at the Carlyle. It’s the place I’m always telling you about, with the piano player at the bar, he sings his old Broadway tunes. I’ll take you up for lunch and dinner, how does that sound?”

Fanning replies:

“I mean, it will cost a fortune,” to which Chalamet responds “Relax, I’m loaded, I scored 20 big ones last Sunday” at a stud poker game.

Woody’s Advice: Stay at the Pierre for View of Central Park; Drinks at the Carlyle

But Chalamet changes his mind mid conversation because he realizes his rich parents are having a dinner party that he dreads going to and has excused himself from, saying he has an exam to study for:

“Actually, now that I’m thinking about it. We can’t stay at the Carlyle, it’s too close to my parents house. But I want you to have a park view. You know what? We going to stay at the Pierre. That way you can have a park view, it’s a safe distance from my parents house. Then after dinner we’re going to go to the Carlyle, we go to bar, and spend some time there. It’s very old New York. I really love it. The murals are by Ludwig Bemelmans.”

And thus you have famed New Yorker Woody Allen’s advice for a short stay in NYC.

A Night at the Pierre

As I live in NYC, it is an easy to trek from Staten Island to Manhattan to check out these hotels. The Pierre Hotel is located at 2 E 61st St, on 5th Avenue right across the street from Central Park — the lower East section of the park just up from 57th Street.

I stopped in and asked the front desk how one could guarantee that if they booked a room, it was on a high enough floor to get a view of Central Park. The fellow at the front desk — super helpful — said simply to make sure you booked a room that said Park View.

Checking Expedia at current writing, and arbitrarily picking several Thursday nights in June, 2024 — a room with Park View is going for $1,250 to $1,450 a night for a King bed.

Rooms with 2 twin beds are not available with Park views, let alone 2 Queen beds. You can only get a King bed. To get 2 Queen beds you get into Suites which are super-expensive — heading up from $2,500 to $5,000 a night up to the highest — Presidential Suite — which currently lists at $22,500 a night.

Now hotel rates in Manhattan have skyrocketed in the last year with the illegal immigration crisis, that has flooded NYC with illegal immigrants that have been put up in hotels by NYC, thus drastically reducing the available rooms in NYC hotels. A year ago the prices were less than half of what they are now — across all hotels.

The Lobby of the Pierre Hotel

The lobby of the Pierre Hotel is essentially a long hallway with some large rooms off to the side.

Part of the lobby of the Pierre Hotel.

When I visited during Christmas week, 2023, the lobby had a photo exhibit of some of the ‘famous people’ who had been at the Pierre for events from 1967 to 1987, taken by “Paparazza Extrodinaire” Ron Galella. 

From the placard: “Clint Eastwood & girlfriend Sandra Locke (June 14, 1982): Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood had a busy night attending “The Firefox” movie premiere at Cinema I on 3rd Avenue and the after party at The Pierre Hotel benefitting The Museum of Modern Art’s Film Preservation fund. The movie, directed and starring Clint Eastwood was generally panned by viewers but the film’s dog-fight sequences, directed by Star Wars special effects supervisor John Dykstra, is considered a high point of film.”

While in The Pierre, I sat down in a beautiful room just off the lobby, that was mostly empty except for two guys sitting at a table talking.

I sat down on a long couch at a table and took out my laptop to work a bit. Later some French tourists staying at the hotel sat down at a table nearby with some coffees they had purchased somewhere in the hotel nearby.

Turns out we were all sitting in the rotunda of the Perrine restaurant, which is used for special events and parties. The Perrine restaurant itself was 30 feet down the hallway.

Drinks at the Carlyle

The Carlyle Hotel is located at 76th Street and Madison Avenue, a block off of Central Park. There are two places you can “have drinks at the Carlyle”: Bemelmans Bar and Cafe Carlyle.

Bemelmans Bar

The one referred to in the Woody Allen movie, “Rainy Day in New York City”, is Bemelmans Bar, which features a piano player and walls covered with the artwork of Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books.

The story goes that the Carlyle Hotel owner commissioned Bemelmans to paint the walls of the bar in 1941, taking as much time as he needed. Bemelmans and his family stayed in the hotel for 1.5 years while he drew the characters on the wall.

Bemelmans’ artwork in Bemelmans Bar. Photo courtesy NY Post & Stefano Giovannini

Earl Rose is the current regular piano player at Bemelmans Bar. Billy Joel has frequently stopped into Bemelmans and sat at the piano with Rose — the two playing together and having a ball, according to Rose.

Bemelman’s is located at the bottom of the hotel on the Madison Avenue side. When I entered at around 3pm on a Thursday afternoon, there were people lined up to get inside. A painting of Bemelmans himself watched over them, and me — as I joined the line.

Dress Code

The line is to get a table in Bemelmans. There is a sign that reads, “To join us in Bemelmans Bar, please proceed to towards the glass door. The bar manager will be available to welcome you shortly. We appreciate your patience.” And then in fine print: “Kindly note that Bemelmans Bar has a smart dress code policy. From 5:30 pm nightly, collared shirts are required for men and no shorts or hats are allowed. THANK YOU.”

After 15 minutes wait, only 1 couple had been allowed in — so I figured I’d get a drink at Bemelmans some other time. I did take a peak inside. I then went to the lobby of the Carlyle, on the 76th Street side — and looked for the restrooms. Turns out they are in Bemelmans — so I entered Bemelmans again via the hotel lobby, and took a proper picture.

As you can see, Bemelmans’ paintings on the wall are not in all parts of the bar — just in the main area where the piano is.

The Carlyle Hotel from the outside.

Cafe Carlyle

Cafe Carlyle is where Woody Allen himself has famously played his saxophone in his New Orleans Jazz Band every Monday evening for years. My sister Stell tells the story of seeing him there back 15 years ago — she sat down at a long table, and Woody came in and placed his clarinet and equipment at the same table. He then needed help moving his stuff and she helped him.

Sadly, it does not seem that Woody is playing much there anymore at this writing — the event schedule does not list him — but Cafe Carlyle is still a terrific place to see live music in a small NY venue.

Here is a picture from the internet of Woody and his Jazz band at Cafe Carlyle — the picture looks 15 or more years old.

Cafe Carlyle is on the East 76th Street side of the hotel, near the hotel’s entrance and lobby.

A Night at the Carlyle

You can stay at the Carlyle Hotel as well — which was Woody Allen character’s first idea. The Carlyle is a famed New York hotel where the famous call home. There is an interesting documentary made about the hotel in 2018, called “Always At the Carlyle“, currently playing for free on Amazon Prime.

The documentary interviews people who work there — doormen, elevator men, people who work the front desk, building managers, the daughters of building managers, and famous people who have stayed there, including, ironically enough — Anthony Bourdain just before he was reportedly suicided.

Famous chef Anthony Bourdain, interviewed in the 2018 documentary “Always at the Carlyle”, ironically just before he was reportedly suicided.


  • Paul Newman experimented with his salad dressing there before making it a business.
  • The ultimate room in the Carlyle is the penthouse — 2801 The Empire Suite — which in 2018 was going for $20,000 a night. George Clooney once lived in the suite for 3 months, and regularly stays there.
The view from 2801 The Empire Suite.
  • Clooney is well liked amongst the hotel employees; he says staying there is like staying with family. The one thing about the hotel he doesn’t appreciate is the fact that the elevators are 100 years old.
  • The greatest Carlyle Hotel elevator ride — one of the elevator attendants said that one time Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, and Steve Jobs rode the elevator together. It was completely silent until Diana started singing “Beat It”.
  • Harrison Ford said he always stays in lower rooms for $1200 a night that feature radiators with peeling paint. He had no idea there was a suite as nice as 2801 The Empire Suite.
  • According to a waiter, Donald Trump once attended a party at the Carlyle on the 2nd floor and said, “I confirm my believe that this is one of the most prestigious places I have ever stayed at.” When pushed, the hotel employee being interviewed confessed he actually said “This place is a joke.” When asked if he thought the later was true, Bill Murray agreed.

The Architecture

  • The Carlyle architecture has Art deco bones with playful decorations on top of it.
  • The upper gallery of the Living room of the Carlyle, called the Little House, was designed in 1989 by  famous architect Renzo Mongiardino. It features Kilim clothes all over the couches and wallpaper by Enrico Boose a famous Italian designer.

The Hearst Paintings

  • The Carlyle has two paintings from the 1697 its lobby, painted by Jan Baptist Weenix, and purchased from the William Randolph Hearst in 1941, which were in his mansion. I happened to take a picture of these paintings in the lobby when there — I took the picture because the paintings were amazing.
The lobby of The Carlyle Hotel.

At a table in the lobby nearby, there sits an book that you can peruse of the paintings of Jan Baptist Weenix.

Click the picture below to expand it and read the page from the book.

  • One older woman in the documentary — a famous person of some sort — said “Everything in NY you can do on the spur of the moment. Like maybe ‘let’s go see Bobby (Short) at the Cafe Carlyle’ just the way you used to say, “You know I have a half hour, I can go to the Museum of Modern Art’. You can’t do that anymore. There’s lines; there’s a zillion people. So all of the treasures of NY that were the reasons you lived in NY and put up with all the things that are not great about NY — now there’s a billion people from Kansas ahead of you on line, and even if you can make a phone call and get ahead of that line, you’re going to be in there with a billion people from Kansas.”
  • To be fair, other less pretentious people in the documentary explain the excitement of performing in a place and looking into the crowd and seeing a George Steinbrenner, or another person who has achieved greatness in their field. “You got millionaires, billionaires, who are sitting and you don’t even know who they are and then you talk to them at the bar, and you find out, ‘oh you own That building’ — said some fellow who works there.

I will no doubt return the Bemelmans Bar and also to Cafe Carlyle to take in some entertainment, and will post articles when I do.

I took a selfie while there to prove I was there and did take many of these pictures above:

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