The first Thursday night of every month, 2E, The Pierre’s new bar/lounge named for its address, 2 East 61st St., thrums to the beat of Rumor, a nightclub scene you’d think would be more at home in the East Village than the upper East Side hotel. No, The Pierre hasn’t lost its top drawer status, just added a new panache. Uptown meets Downtown at the southeast corner of Central Park.

Pierre entrance on 61st St, Central Park in background, NY, New York

Pierre entrance on 61st St, Central Park in background. Photo credit Taj Hotels and Resorts.

The Pierre’s hip new era began after Taj Hotels and Resorts took over the management of the 80-year old landmark in 2005, and launched a $100 million renovation of the 41-floor Georgian-style building, creating 189 new guestroom and bath interiors (think marble and rain showerheads), and reconfiguring the public areas to accommodate that bar/lounge as well as a new restaurant. The beloved hotel reopened in June 2009 with all its old-world charm and a slew of contemporary amenities, plus a playfulness that shows you can be a beloved grande dame with style and spirit.

Pierre entrance on 61st St, Central Park in background, NY, New York

Pierre entrance on 61st St, Central Park in background. Photo credit Taj Hotel and Resorts.

It replaced the traditional Café Pierre with Le Caprice, a stylish brasserie imported from London, where you can get Scotch eggs, Welsh rarebit, and superb fish and chips. The original uber-Brit menu was soon amended to reflect its new location with a prime New York strip, for instance, but reminders of its London origins are the vintage photographs of iconic sixties model Jean Shrimpton by legendary British photographer, David Bailey.

It put 2E dining in the hands of the hotel’s executive chef, Stephane Becht, where you can get a $26 prix fixe lunch and a variety of bar/lounge food, such as beef tenderloin wrap with caramelized onions and pesto shrimp and scallop skewers from 11 am to 1 am. 2E hasn’t forgotten the hotel’s international roots, and serves traditional afternoon tea from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to traditional room service, it dreamed up another in-room dining option: a Wellness Cuisine Menu for guests who want to eat healthy while traveling. Created by Chef Becht with New York nutritionist and dietitian Brooke Alpert, it encompasses appetizers, entrees, salads, snacks and revitalizing drinks. Alpert has calculated detailed nutritional information for each dish, including calories, cholesterol, grams of fat, saturated fat, protein, fiber and sodium. They are particularly proud of reducing calories in regular dishes—oatmeal is down to 419 calories from1400—and creating new ones, such as corn tortilla pizza and pineapple carpaccio.

“In addition to the calorie count, it’s most important to make food look great,” says Chef Becht.

Pierre lobby, NY, New York

Pierre lobby. Photo credit Taj Hotels and Resorts.

It doesn’t take long to catch a whiff of the Eastern heritage and culture that Taj, an Indian company, brings to New York. Step into the lobby, and you’ll see nine masterpieces of modern Indian art from the collection of the Taj Mahal Palace, the company flagship in Mumbai. For the guest rooms, The Pierre commissioned abstract silk screened works by award-winning contemporary Indian artist Rajesh Pullawar. Once a month, experts, often from Sotheby’s, give private guided tours of the hotel’s art collection.

Another Indian import is Jiva, the hotel’s distinctive in-room spa experience that draws on the therapeutic attributes of Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and other indigenous wellness traditions. Created by Taj, it is the only spa brand in the world with unique Indian spa treatments. (Read more about the Jiva spa at http://spareviewmag.com/2011/09/indian-serenity-in-the-heart-of-new-york.html.)

Entrance to the bar/lounge 2E at The Pierre, NY New York

Entrance to the bar/lounge 2E at The Pierre. Photo credit Taj Hotels and Resorts.

Underlying many of the hotel packages and events are often unheralded community give-backs, contributions (in the guest’s name) to City Harvest for instance, in a spa package; staff and management donations and volunteer services to a host of organizations, from the American Cancer Society to Toys for Tots.

Maurice Dancer, Head Concierge and an 18-year Pierre veteran, sums it up, “Taj brings morality to a new level.”

Part of the new playbook is reaching out to the community, with events like twilight Central Park tours that take you on back roads to ravines, waterfalls, meadows, and Civil War landmarks you’ve probably never seen.

Another part is eco-awareness, attending to the hotel’s environmental footprint, including energy efficiency, non-renewable resource management, waste minimization and recycling. For its efforts, The Pierre is the first New York City hotel to be awarded the Silver Earth Check Certification.

The Rotunda at The Pierre, NY, New York

The Rotunda at The Pierre. Photo credit Taj Hotels and Resorts.

The Pierre has had a long star-studded history since it first opened in 1930 with a galaxy of New York’s social and financial stars on hand, including Auguste Escoffier, “Father of French chefs,” who occasionally served as the hotel’s guest chef. John Paul Getty was an early owner before The Pierre became a cooperative, with enough non-resident rooms to host a brilliant international roster of guests ranging from British royalty (Queen Elizabeth II) to Broadway royalty (Tallulah Bankhead and Irving Berlin) and beyond.

As a lifelong New Yorker, over the years I’ve been to countless events at The Pierre—friends’ weddings and trade shows in the Grand Ballroom; my husband’s company Christmas parties in the Cotillion Room; gal pal teas, no longer in that glorious classical Rotunda, alas—and the nostalgic ties are warmer and sweeter than ever at the reborn hotel.

The Pierre, Fifth Ave at 61st St New York, N Y 10065, (212) 838-8000, www.tajhotels.com/pierre/