The latest symbol of French art de vivre in New York City stands on the site of a former parking garage. With its vast, metal-framed windows, the red-brick building home to the Hotel Fouquet’s New York was completed in just three years, but it seems to have always been part of the city. Designed by the Stephen B. Jacobs architecture firm, the building has injected a modern twist into the 19th-century industrial aesthetic that defines Tribeca, one of the trendiest – and most expensive – neighborhoods in Manhattan.
New York on the outside, Paris on the inside; the five-star establishment, which launched in late September, wants to be the transatlantic twin of the Hotel Fouquet’s opened on the Champs-Elysées in 2006. The interior, entrusted to the Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, plays with the French-American duality by combining Art Deco references (geometric motifs, crystal, polished metal) and French hangings and velvet in green and lavender pastel tones. In a humorous nod to this double culture, most of the bedrooms are decorated with wallpaper in the style of toile de Jouy fabric, which was specially designed for the hotel. A closer look will reveal iconic scenes and places in New York City, such as dog walkers, pigeons, subway entrances, and pretzel vendors!
“This hotel is charming and full of character. It is never impersonal, and can sometimes surprise you,” says Gilles Stellardo, the general manager of the Fouquet’s New York. “You will see an industrial building from the outside, but when you walk inside, it feels like you have stepped into a Parisian mansion.” Tucked away at the back of the lobby, a cozy bar inspired by the speakeasies of the Roaring Twenties acts as an antechamber between the hotel and the Fouquet’s brasserie. This is where the references to the legendary Parisian restaurant, founded by Louis Fouquet in 1899, are the most visible. Expect black-and-white photographs of celebrities by Studio Harcourt, red velvet armchairs, a private salon, and a menu by Parisian chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Sole Meunière and Mac and Cheese
As well as working on his many international restaurants, including his eponymous, three Michelin-star eatery on Rue Balzac in Paris, the renowned chef has designed the menus at the ten Fouquet’s brasseries across the world since 2015. For the opening of the New York branch, whose kitchens are headed up by American chef Bradley Stellings, a selection of brasserie classics (French onion soup, sole meunière, mille-feuille) are featured alongside dishes crafted with the local clientele in mind, such as grilled Maine lobster, popcorn soup, and a macaroni gratin with Cantal in a nod to American mac and cheese. A second restaurant, the Par Ici Café, serves vegetarian dishes under a glass roof, which can be opened during the summer.
On the other floors, the Fouquet’s offers 97 rooms (from 1,150 dollars per night), including 31 suites. “Some of them are luxury suites with terraces overlooking the Manhattan skyline or the Hudson River,” says Gilles Stellardo. The jewel in the hotel’s crown is a presidential suite aptly named Le Grand Appartement Terrasse, spanning 2,432 square feet across the seventh and eighth floors, complete with three private balconies. Meanwhile, the underground levels are home to a white marble spa with a swimming pool – also in marble – and a fitness space opened in collaboration with DogPound, an ultra-selective gym just a stone’s throw away on Canal Street.
The hotel also boasts its own movie theater on the underground floors, with around 60 seats and booths. “We wanted to create ties with the Tribeca Film Festival and organize live events with Paris, such as the annual César awards dinner hosted at the Fouquet’s on the Champs- Elysées,” says the general manager.
Luxurious Hospitality, Just Like Home
Located in a more residential area, but one that is popular among celebrities and billionaires, the hotel has set its sights on a clientele “comprised of 60% Americans, especially from Los Angeles, including big names in film and fashion,” says Gilles Stellardo. The Nice-born general manager, who used to be a ballet dancer, knows this rich-and-famous world well. From 2012 to 2020, he directed the Mercer Hotel in Soho, whose owner, André Balazs, also owns the legendary Chateau Marmont in Hollywood and the Standard hotel chain. “The Mercer was the hotel for Who’s Who celebrities when they came to New York, from Karl Lagerfeld to Travis Scott. All the stars – former, current, and future – have stayed there!”
Gilles Stellardo arrived at the Fouquet’s a year before the opening, and now heads up a team of almost 200 people whom he had to recruit and train at the height of a staffing shortfall. “It has become difficult to find people who have both experience and a desire to work in these professions,” he says. His strategy is to focus on personal qualities, the most important of which is a respect for guests’ privacy. “The general manager is an orchestra conductor who must know how to play every instrument. You have to do everything to ensure each guest feels like they are at home; being a shoulder to cry on, a confidant, a doctor – but without ever forgetting that you are above all an employee.”
The Barrière group has owned the Fouquet’s in Paris since 1998, and has since expanded the brand by opening brasseries in its hotels and casinos in destinations such as Cannes, Courchevel, Toulouse, St. Barts, and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Barrière owns the building and manages the New York hotel in partnership with the Caspi Development real estate company. This latest launch is the group’s first foray into the American market, which has come at a pivotal moment for New York City. On the one hand, the tourism sector is back on its feet after grinding to a halt during the pandemic. NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism company, predicts 56 million visitors in 2022 compared to 33 million the previous year. On the other hand, the unfavorable exchange rate, inflation, and the threat of a recession might discourage the international clientele. However, this has hardly dampened the optimism of the Fouquet’s New York general manager. “We are in a niche market in which prices are not currently a consideration,” says Gilles Stellardo. “Guest numbers will mainly depend on the brand, as Fouquet’s is still relatively unknown here, and on word-of-mouth. In any case, we have everything on our side to ensure a fantastic reputation!”