Obviously, we’re not all VIP’s or celebrities, but “Always at the Carlyle” can take you close to feeling like one or at least seeing how they live when they visit New York City. The Carlyle is the place where royalty stays; where high profile musicians, actors, and world leaders stay; it’s the place. Priding itself on “what happens at the Carlyle, stays at the Carlyle,” the film doesn’t reveal any secrets about its guests, but plenty of guests appear, telling of their experiences, opening the guest room doors and revealing their own insights.
Director Matthew Miele takes a look at the history of this iconic yet not ostentatious structure nestled in the heart of Manhattan. We meet the staff and understand their dedication to such a unique hotel. The recurring guests also know the staff, all with their own favorites and relationships, and the staff have their favorites, too! Not surprisingly, Mr. George Clooney is at the top of almost all the staff’s list.
Beautifully filmed, the viewer experiences the gracious elegance of the lobby, the welcoming smile of the staff, and the opulence of the guest rooms. We ride the elevator with the operator, we talk with the woman who personally monograms pillow cases for VIP’s, and we also get a peek at the cafe and the bar where legends not only perform but go to see their idols play. We understand the attention to detail and the importance that makes a difference to the guest. In essence, we get to know a place that perhaps would have remained hidden as most of us couldn’t afford to pay the price of luxury here. Or as Jon Hamm stated when asked if he would pay the price for a high floor suite, “You could pay for somebody’s school for a year for that. That’s ridiculous.”
The celebrity interviews are countless in this film, from Jeff Goldblum and Sofia Coppola to George Clooney and Anthony Bourdain, we learn a bit about what makes The Carlyle so special to each of them, many of whom have sweet memories attached to the hotel. But what truly stands out are the interviews with the staff. From the front desk clerk who stutters, sharing his inspirational words, to the housekeepers who share stories of the kindness of Jack Nicholson, the world of the wealthy intersects with those on the other end of the spectrum only to find a genuine respect and understanding.
“Always at the Carlyle” is a unique look into an iconic and historically significant hotel in New York City that we can experience from the screen of our homes. Perhaps the secret is out and we ordinary people can stop in for a cup of coffee at the cafe to say we too have had the pleasure of experiencing The Carlyle—and for a moment be a VIP.