Inside the famously discreet New York City hotel known as the 'Palace of Secrets' that Princess Diana frequented

John Stillwell/PA Images/Getty Images; The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelLeft: Princess Diana receives flowers as she leaves the Carlyle Hotel in New York City on December 10, 1996. Right: Aerial view of the Carlyle Hotel.
  • When Princess Diana visited New York City, she often stayed at the Carlyle Hotel.
  • The New York Times’ nicknamed the Carlyle Hotel the “Palace of Secrets” for the privacy it affords its high-profile guests.
  • Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs once rode the elevator together, according to the 2018 documentary “Always at the Carlyle.”
  • Princess Diana’s trips to New York have come back into focus as a storyline in season 4 of Netflix’s hit series “The Crown,” released November 15.
  • Look inside the historic hotel and celebrity hideout, where rooms cost between $US525 and $US20,000 per night.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.


If elevator walls could talk, they would have stories to tell about the Carlyle Hotel. But you certainly won’t hear them from staff.

Always at the CarlyleAerial view of the Carlyle Hotel featured in ‘Always at the Carlyle’ (2018).

Source: The Carlyle Hotel


Built in 1930 and located on the corner of Madison Avenue and 76th Street on the Upper East Side, the Carlyle Hotel has earned a reputation as a hideout for royalty, politicians, and celebrities.

Google MapsAn arrow shows the location of the Carlyle Hotel in New York City.

Source: The Carlyle Hotel


Carlyle Hotel staff are famously close-lipped about what goes on inside the hotel walls. The New York Times once called the 188-room hotel the “Palace of Secrets” for the privacy it affords its guests.

Always at the CarlyleCarlyle hotel entrance featured in ‘Always at the Carlye’ (2018).

Source: New York Times


In 2018, a documentary called “Always the Carlyle” by Matthew Miele revealed never-before-shared stories of some of the hotel’s most distinguished guests, one of whom was Princess Diana.

Always at the Carlyle

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Diana first visited New York City on a three-day solo tour in February 1989, a moment which appears in season four of “The Crown.”

Des Willie/Netflix; Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesEmma Corrin plays Princess Diana in season four, episode 10 of ‘The Crown’; Princess Diana attends a gala during her first official visit to New York City.

Source: Insider


As her marriage to Prince Charles dissolved leading up to their divorce in 1996, she took more solo trips to the city, often staying at the Carlyle.

Marcel Thomas/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana returns to the Carlyle Hotel after attending several functions In New York City on June 23, 1997.

During one her stays, Princess Diana joined “the most famous elevator ride in history,” journalist Piers Morgan told producers of “Always at the Carlyle.”

Always at the CarlyleAn elevator operator stands watch at the Carlyle Hotel in ‘Always at the Carlyle’ (2018).

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Her fellow riders? Michael Jackson and Steve Jobs. The power trio was “completely silent” until Diana started singing Jackson’s 1982 hit song “Beat It,” Morgan said.

CBS via Getty ImagesMichael Jackson at the 26th annual Grammy Awards in 1984.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Diana frequented the 1,800-square-foot “Royal Suite” on the 22nd floor, which today is one of the hotel’s most requested rooms, Carlyle Hotel communications director Jennifer Cooke told Insider.

Mark Lennihan/AP PhotoA New York City police officer waves traffic along as a smiling Princess Diana leaves New York’s Carlyle Hotel on October 20, 1994.

The two-bedroom suite is currently under renovation, but it previously rented for $US8,000 per night, Architectural Digest reported in 2016.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelDetail shot of a Carlyle hotel suite.

Source: Architectural Digest


Following in Diana’s footsteps, Prince William and Kate Middleton stayed at the hotel during a trip to New York City in 2014.

Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage/Getty ImagesPrince William and Kate Middleton arrive at the Carlyle Hotel on December 7, 2014.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Cooke overheard Prince William say in the lobby that he had heard a lot about the hotel over the years. “The duke and duchess I think definitely stayed here at the Carlyle because Princess Diana used to stay here,” she said in the documentary.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana leaves the Carlyle Hotel to head back to London on January 31, 1995.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


In addition to foreign dignitaries, every US president since Truman has visited the Carlyle, the hotel writes on its website.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesPresident Kennedy leaves the Carlyle Hotel on December 15, 1962.

Source: The Carlyle Hotel


Kennedy owned an apartment on the 34th floor for the decade leading up to his death in 1963, which became known as his “winter White House,” according to the New York Post.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesPresident John F. Kennedy confers with foreign policy advisors at the Carlyle Hotel on January 24, 1961.

Source: New York Post


Marilyn Monroe is rumoured to have slipped past paparazzi through a tunnel into the Carlyle for a rendezvous with Kennedy, but the story and existence of the tunnel have never been publicly confirmed.

Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesMarilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy at a party in New York City on May 19, 1962.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Contemporary guests of the hotel include George and Amal Clooney, Vera Wang, Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Naomi Campbell, Wes Anderson, Lenny Kravitz, Roger Federer, and Bill Murray, all of whom appear in the documentary.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelAn employee minds the front desk at the Carlyle Hotel.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


The hotel’s prices certainly cater to celebrity clientele. Rates start at $US525 per night for a 360-square-foot Deluxe Twin Bedroom …

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelDeluxe Twin Bedroom view.

S0urce: The Carlyle Hotel


… and rise to five digits. The two-story Empire Suite that overlooks Central Park goes for $US20,000 per night, Cooke told Insider.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelEmpire Suite living room looking out over Central Park.

Source: The Carlyle Hotel


George and Amal Clooney once stayed in the Empire Suite for three months.

Justin Bare / Always at the CarlyleGeorge Clooney speaks on camera in ‘Always at the Carlyle’ (2018).

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Suites were renovated in 2019 to include murals of Central Park and curated art collections. Perks for VIP and repeat guests include custom pillowcases with their initials monogrammed in gold thread.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelPremier Suite living room.

Source: The Carlyle Hotel


“You get what you pay for,” Carlyle guest and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said of Carlyle suite prices in “Always at the Carlyle.”

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelCarlyle Suite living room.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


The hotel’s common spaces are equally as luxurious. The Art Deco lobby oozes old-world glamour and has served as a reception and after-party destination for high-profile events like the Met Gala and Tonys.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelCarlyle Hotel lobby.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Model Naomi Campbell recalls that her floor at the Carlyle was “banging” after the 2016 Met Gala.

Dave Kotinsky/Getty ImagesNaomi Campbell departs the Carlyle Hotel on May 2, 2016 for the Met Gala.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


“It was the best floor ever. It was me in one corner, Rihanna in one corner, Stella McCartney in another corner, and Cara Delevingne in the other. You can imagine what time that floor went to bed,” she said in the documentary.

Rebecca Smeyne/Getty ImagesRihanna leaves the Carlyle Hotel on May 1, 2017, for the Met Gala.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


The historic Bemelmans Bar, lined with murals drawn by Madeline artist and creator Ludwig Bemelmans, has also hosted creative stars.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood HotelBemelmans Bar.

Source: The Carlyle Hotel, Always at the Carlyle


The whimsical space was “one of the biggest inspirations” for Wes Anderson’s 2014 film “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” he told “Always at the Carlyle” producers.

Always at the CarlyleBemelmans Bar lampshade.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


At Café Carlyle, the hotel’s supper club, Woody Allen regularly appears to play his clarinet with the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band. Both Bemelmans and the café are closed until further notice due to COVID-19.

Always at the CarlyleDoor to Café Carlyle (detail).

Source: Café Carlyle, Always at the Carlyle


While “Always at the Carlyle” shed light on the hotel’s inner workings through interviews with guests, it remains a private place for a discerning clientele.

Always at the CarlyleThe Carlyle Hotel seen through trees in Central Park in ‘Always at the Carlyle.’

Source: Always at the Carlyle


Many hotel employees have worked at the hotel for decades and refuse to share details about specific conversations with guests.

Justin Bare / Always at the CarlyleRetired concierge Dwight Owsley stands in front of Carlyle Hotel.

Source: Always at the Carlyle


“We don’t talk about our guests,” one employee said at the beginning of the documentary. “Whatever happens here, stays here,” said another.

Justin Bare / Always at the CarlyleA Carlyle Hotel employee speaks on camera behind the front desk in ‘Always at the Carlyle’ (2018).

Source: Always at the Carlyle

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.