Be In the Know

Be In the Know. Sign up to have DesignDestinations delivered right to your inbox, weekly.

New York City Discovery: Campbell Apartment

One of my favorite things to do when I go to New York City is to try to discover places the tourists don’t go. It’s pretty tough to do because I am a tourist, don’t live in the Big Apple and my time there is regretfully limited.

Recently though I found a stunning fancy pants cocktail bar in the most unlikely location and clearly not on the sneaker set route.  It was stuffed with New Yorkers and Connecticut commuters who looked to me like hedge fund moguls.

What is it?  The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. Yep, that’s right.  Grand Central Station.

I read about this amazing and lavish space in a charming book called “New York’s Unique and Unexpected Places” by Judith Stonehill and Alexandra Stonehill.  It’s chock o block full of spots in an amazing city to explore.

The Campbell Apartment, was designed to look like a grand hall of a thirteenth century Florentine Palace.  It succeeds beautifully.  It’s open to the public for cocktails from mid afternoon until late evening.

According to authors Stonehill and Stonehill, John W. Campbell rented the space in 1923 for his office.  He installed a Florentine desk, rare books, a pipe organ and an enormous Persian Rug. He is a man who is reputed to have lived “very large.”

He created the Palazzo environment by adding large scale leaded windows and a huge stone fireplace.  The ceiling was hand painted. Campbell was chairman of his family’s firm—Credit Clearing House, which merged with Dun & Bradstreet—and served on the board of the New York Central Railroad.  Not only did he use this fancy and elegant space for an office, but he and is wife entertained in this space as well.  I can only imagine how glamorous and decadent these parties must have been.

The room, reachable from the Vanderbilt Avenue side of Grand Central Terminal, was abandoned when he died in 1957 but restored in 1999.  It’s an amazing place, such a contrast to the bustle and confusion of the city outside and adjacent train station.

For more cool cocktail places in New York City check out the Chatwall on Scenes, Sights and Suggestions and The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Dec 19, 2010 Reply

    Another reason to love NYC…we thought this place was fabulous!

  2. posted by
    Kathy Pleune
    Dec 19, 2010 Reply

    We just returned from NYC last week. Had a great time. We will put this one on our list for “next time”. Still love reading your blog. Merry Christmas!

    • posted by
      Dec 19, 2010 Reply

      Would be fun to go to NYC together some time…..don’t you love it in December when the city is decorated? sjs

  3. posted by
    R. Lyle Boatman, ASID
    Dec 22, 2010 Reply

    I think this place is great! I’ll meet you there for cocktails!

  4. posted by
    Dec 22, 2010 Reply

    Let’s make a date. sjs

  5. posted by
    Kate D.
    Dec 31, 2010 Reply

    This is super-cool, and makes me want to go to New york — haven’t been there for many years. Thanks, Susan!

  6. posted by
    Rabbit Reporter
    Jan 4, 2011 Reply

    I miss NYC! This reminds me of Union Station in Los Angeles

  7. posted by
    New York Discoveries | DesignDestinations
    May 8, 2012 Reply

    […] yes, not new in fact, it is on most tourist lists.  On a recent trip I discovered the Campbell Apartment, a wonderful spot in side the Terminal for drinks.   This trip I went in search of the Oyster Bar […]

  8. posted by
    elegant paris hotel
    Apr 12, 2014 Reply

    Hello There. I found your weblog using msn.
    This is a very smartly written article. I’ll be sure to
    bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

Leave a Reply