Her “daddy,” she said, had marched with King. Her grandmother would read the Bible to black people who worked in her fields, to help them learn how to read.

–Alexis Okeowo ‘Witnessing a Rally for a Brand-New Confederate Monument‘ The New Yorker



Minibar charges also lead to regular disputes. A full raid of your room’s bar runs $600 at the Plaza—something that happens at least once a week. The likelihood that guests will not want to pay is almost guaranteed.

This requires butlers to document everything with pocket cameras, whether it’s open booze bottles spread across the room, stains on laundry that existed before washing, or evidence of damaged furniture. Every ticket is verified on a computer and photos are attached, so when TripAdvisor.com lights up with a fiery review, the butlers are able to provide evidence to dispel any falsehoods.

-Brandon Presser ‘12 Shocking Things I Learned by Working as a Butler at the Plaza Hotel‘ Bloomberg


We landed in Bucharest and soon realized that my husband had left his driver’s license back home. I was of no use. My license had been stolen the week before, when I left my wallet on the seat beside me at a cafe in Berlin. Don’t judge; I’m the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times and travel a lot, which means I sometimes let my guard down when I get tired.

Then it came to me: One trick we had learned was that splurging on a hotel after a red-eye flight seems to make everyone happy. The plush bathrobes. The chocolates on the pillow. The powerful Wi-Fi signal. And guess what fancy hotels are good at? Making guests happy.

We had booked a room at the Grand Hotel Continental, an opulent 1800s-era hotel, and the lovely receptionist was more than pleased to help us right our rental-car wrongs. Soon enough, I was sitting in the marble lobby across from a man in a black leather jacket who rented me a town car after unquestioningly accepting a license that looked as if I had typed it in my mom’s basement. Perseverance triumphed. And the hotel was wonderful — old and ornate but not rundown, and the rate was a relative bargain compared with the snazziest hotels in Vienna or Berlin.

-Dionne Searcey ‘Cobblestones? Check. Castles? Check. Budget? Check. Why Romania Is Worth the Trip.‘ The New York Times


The Plaza’s guest relations team researches everyone staying at the hotel on an individual basis, using a variety of social media tools. (The favorite is LinkedIn.com.) Butlers, on the other hand, often use past trends to size people up on the spot.

They send electric kettles to the rooms of arriving Asian guests, who often bring noodles from home to cook in their suite. They keep an eye on the minibar when tending to Americans in their thirties and forties—they’re considered the partiers of the hotel, likeliest to plow through the booze. Middle Eastern VIPs get what is called an “Arabic Amenity”—a tray of dates, dried fruit, and nuts; they tend to prefer these to chocolates, cakes, or other sweet desserts.

–Brandon Presser ‘12 Shocking Things I Learned by Working as a Butler at the Plaza Hotel‘ Bloomberg


Now that they were into the exultation of the war story, Sherman couldn’t resist giving himself an opening for a little praise.

Maria said, “Well, I just did it on — I don’t know — instinct.” Typical of her; she didn’t notice the opening.

“Yeah,” said Sherman, “well, it was a damned good instinct. I kind of had my hands full at that point!” An opening big enough for a truck.

This one even she noticed.

— Tom Wolfe The Bonfire of the Vanities 

virtual city

According to City Hall, on any given day there are around 120 film and television projects in production in New York. About 12,000 permits are issued a year, resulting in the intermittent irritation of non-industry-connected residents as we try to park our cars or push our strollers.

They are also the building blocks of a virtual city, a second metropolis extracted from and existing alongside the real one. For natives, transplants and tourists alike, it can be hard to tell where the actual New York leaves off and its cinematic doppelgänger begins.

-A.O. Scott ‘The City So Nice They Can’t Stop Making Movies About It‘ The New York Times