Raymond Hotel re-opens in New York to Broadway-themed nostalgia

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Raymond Hotel in the theatre district of New York City The Raymond Hotel, a newly re-opened establishment in the theatre district of New York City, is a…

Raymond Hotel re-opens in New York to Broadway-themed nostalgia

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Raymond Hotel in the theatre district of New York City

The Raymond Hotel, a newly re-opened establishment in the theatre district of New York City, is a fantastical confection of looks, colours and patina.

Designed by Elmgreen and Dragset, the theatre-worthy hotel celebrates Broadway and New York itself. The celebrity owners are Jules Verne, his wife Judith and his son Agron Verne.

The re-opening of the Raymond was made possible thanks to $10m (£7.2m) from the hotel’s share owners. The company behind it is Verne Hotel Management, which was set up to exploit the Raymond’s roots in the theatre business.

These origins are clear in its name: Raymond, which originally meant “sterling silver” in Italian. Verne – after Jules’ Italian explorer – set up shop at the Raymond when it was called the Waterford Essex Hotel in 1897.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption An outdoor area of the hotel, which in the 1890s was called the Waterford Essex Hotel

“It was named after the group of luxury hotels Jules Verne had established in the area during the roaring twenties,” explained Cliff Rosenberger, who has the Raymond’s management company.

The company’s colours, too, prove that it has the sense of playfulness that made the Raymond so glamorous.

Jules Verne’s terrace has been installed with a life-size bronze guinea pig, permanently perched in the middle of the fairway. And in its lounge area a giant animatronic elephant walk-in shower confuses passers-by who don’t realise the figure is not actually wearing a giant tail.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Raymond marks the 50th anniversary of Verne Hotel Management

The re-opening was made possible thanks to the sheer star power of Mr Verne and his guests. Also at the celebrations were the Broadway cast of Wicked, Birdman star Michael Keaton, and a cast of La La Land stars – including Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling – among others.

As part of the cocktail party, an old-fashioned Flapper-style champagne bottle, with the name “Verne” engraved on its side, was smashed open by Mr Rosenberger.

There is a restaurant attached to the hotel, but the Raymond is also home to the Musical ‘The Avenue’ which features a cast of 10 people on roller skates and will run through 3 October.

Mr Rosenberger told the BBC that Verne was “really excited” to see the Raymond refurbished.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ian McKellen arrives at the opening night of “The Avenue”

“I think he would say it has lived up to the reputation of the first Verne Hotel he opened back in 1897. It was a place filled with glamour and theatre that will remain the same.”

He said Verne would not be funding all the theatre-related events, including the street performances. Instead, the company is encouraging use of its hotel as a stage for organisations and artists and hoping to build a base of performers and patrons from within the organisation’s home city.

While the Raymond’s history as a theatre house is clear, Mr Rosenberger is keen to stress its other aspects: the 67 rooms with their original wallpaper and bas relief paintings are as luxurious as ever, the coffee and pastries are of Amedeo Modigliani’s standards, and the theatre-themed amenities and wi-fi support are all top-notch.

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