It's not exactly a secret, but it is not often on a tourist's radar, which means your fellow sippers tend to be those died-in-the-wool, old-school New Yorkers. Built in the 1930's, the Carlyle has been considered a home away from home for many a socialite, actor, politician and everything in between. I'm not sure I would suggest to my friends to stay here, but I would always take a New York first-timer to Bemelmans.
The charm of this bar lies in its whimsical mural by Herr Ludwig Bemelman. Born in Austria, he moved to New York during WWI. He drew this mural in 1947 in return for accommodation. A fantastical depiction of Central Park, the walls of this haute New York establishment are filled with picnicking rabbits, elephants reading the newspaper and families of giraffes out for a Sunday walk. The childlike naivite of the mural may seem at odds with the elderly clientele of the bar sipping their sherry and listening to the resident pianist. But that is what makes it all so marvelous and so New York.