The St. Regis Hotel was built in 1904 by the architecture firm of Trowbridge & Livingston for Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, who eventually met his fate on the Titanic. The Beaux-Arts hotel, with Second Empire baroque influence, was designed to provide Old World charm to the wealthiest patrons. When ground broke in 1902, the neighborhood was still mostly residential, contributing to Astor's aim of creating a hotel where families could feel as comfortable as they would in a private home.
Astor introduced such "modern" conveniences as a telephone in every room, a fire alarm system, mail chutes on every floor, individually controlled heating and cooling systems that predated modern air conditioning, and one of the first central vacuum systems. A restaurant in the hotel was designed around a Maxfield Parrish mural. Today the 182 guest rooms and 74 suites feature silk wall coverings, antiques, custom-made furnishings, deeply carved crown moldings and wainscoting, and marble baths. In 2006 it received the Mobil Travel Guide Five-Star Award and AAA Five Diamond Award for the 15th consecutive year.
Throughout its history of nearly a century, St. Regis Hotels have invariably attracted the most glamorous, creative and intriguing personalities of each era. In New York alone, Colonel Serge Obelensky, the Russian Prince who had been a page at the Czar's court before he escaped the revolution and grew up to marry Alice Astor, was associated with the St. Regis for many years; Marlene Dietrich, William Paley and his wife Barbara ("Babe") lived at The St. Regis as did Salvador Dali and his wife Gala; and actress Gertrude Lawrence instructed her agent to arrange all her press appointments at The St. Regis.
As of 2007, St. Regis® Hotels & Resorts, owned by Starwood Properties, operates 13 worldwide hotels from San Francisco to London to Beijing. With planned expansion, the network will grow to 22 by 2011. The original St. Regis on Fifth Avenue and 55th Street remains the flagship property.
The St. Regis Hotel was designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1988.
In 2007, The St. Regis Hotel was ranked #16 on the AIA 150 America's Favorite Architecture list.