New York’s iconic Union Square is created at the junction of two streets, Broadway and Bowery Lane (now Fourth Avenue). The best Union Square hotels and the surrounding streets help make it one of NYC’s top meeting places. On any given day, you’ll find groups of Hare Krishnas, chess players, skateboarders, naked statues of Donald Trump, shoppers, student protesters and commuters heading to one of its eight subway lines. One of the best farmer’s markets in NYC is held there every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and in the winter, about 100 red-and-white tents go up to form an annual holiday market. Flanking the square are everything from mega supermarkets to fashion stores, restaurants, and bars. The neighborhood only covers a few Manhattan blocks and the 3.6-acre park, making it one of the city’s smallest. Within its defined boundaries—stretching roughly west to east from Fifth Avenue to Irving Place and north to south from 18th Street to 14th Street—you’ll only find a few hotels, but they offer something for everyone, from traditionalists to millennials. And if you don’t mind a short walk, you can stay in Gramercy, Flatiron and Greenwich Village, NYC to still be closeby.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best hotels in NYC
Best Union Square hotels
Located on the northeast corner of the park, this offshoot of Starwood’s design-minded W Hotels brand is housed in a 1911 Beaux Arts building that was once the headquarters for Guardian Life Insurance. Now in its second life as a hotel, the 17-year-old W Union Square has 270 trendy rooms decorated with pops of red and cobalt walls, Bliss amenities, a cocktail lounge and a 24-hour gym. The starting room category, Wonderful Room, is an efficient 274-300 square feet, but we would opt for the suites. Bonus: pets are allowed for a fee. Don’t miss Irvington, the hotel’s ground floor restaurant by Gerber Group, which serves Italian and Mediterranean-ish dishes like hummus and mezze, bucatini carbonara and seared tuna with roasted beets and pomegranates.
The 178 rooms and suites at the Hyatt Union Square benefit from the hotel’s convenient location—one block off the southeast corner of the park on 4th Avenue—with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide sweeping views. Opt for the Urbane Terrace room with a king-sized bed or Empyreal Suite with separate living and sleeping rooms. The decor is light and contemporary, with leather poufs, Autoban nest armchairs and a color palette of white, black and tan. The hotel also has a partnership with the nearby Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and salon. But our favorite guest amenity is the free bike rental program—maps included.
For those who want more of a vintage feel to their rooms, the Walker Hotel’s 113 rooms have an art deco influence with custom-made Macassar Ebony furniture, black-and-white tiled bathrooms and bold printed wallpaper. The Frette linens are a luxe touch. With only a few rooms on each of the 18 floors, a fireplace and a library/lounge full of early editions, the whole hotel feels more like a cozy prewar townhouse. It’s located where Greenwich Village meets Union Square and is just a 5-minute walk from the park.
Another hotel on the edge of Union Square’s defined borders (in this case with Gramercy), the Inn at Irving Place is just a block off the park’s northeast corner. It’s one of the city’s smallest hotels with just 12 rooms spread over two adjoining, unmarked townhouses (eight at 54 Irving Place and four extended-stay rooms at 56 Irving Place). Adding to the brownstown feel, the rooms are furnished in Victorian-era antiques, fitting for the buildings, which were built in the early 1800s. The five-course high tea served at the inn’s Lady Mendl's Tea Salon is consistently rated among the best in NYC.
A hotel key to the Gramercy Park Hotel unlocks the gates to Gramercy Park, Manhattan's only Private Park four blocks north of Union Square, and a stunning hotel designed by the artist Julian Schnabel. Modern art by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst is mixed with Baroque Louis XV chairs and velvet curtains. Schnabel was so hands-on he even forged all the brass door handles and finials. The 190 rooms and suites start at 220 square feet and all feature pops of red and mahogany wood. It’s hard to leave the hotel when you have Danny Meyer’s trattoria Maialino and the hotel’s Rose Bar on site.
Seven blocks north of Union Square off another famous NYC lawn, Madison Square Park, Ian Schrager’s New York EDITION hotel, developed in partnership with Marriott, has 270 modern rooms and suites and three, 1,350 square-foot penthouses—all decorated in neutral colors (whites, creams, browns) and flooded with natural light. Have a drink at the Lobby Bar, then book a table at the Clocktower restaurant by British Chef Jason Atherton. Each room of the restaurant is decorated in 500 vintage black-and-white photos of NYC, and if you ask, the staff will bring you a guide to what’s pictured.
Built in 1900, the Marlton accommodated writers from Jack Kerouac to Neal Cassady, who both holed up in the hotel to work on their manuscripts. Hotelier Sean MacPherson (behind the Bowery, Jane and Maritime hotels) spent about $10 million to revamp the Marlton into what it is today. Set on a picturesque block in Greenwich Village about a 10-minute walk from Union Square, there are 112 rooms spread over nine floors. Though on the cozier side (all rooms except the Penthouse Suite are between 100-150 square feet), rooms feature Côté Bastide amenities and beds draped in faux-fur blankets. Plus, there’s free wi-fi throughout the hotel (camp out by the fireplace in the clubby wood-paneled lobby).
Like the Marlton, this hotel has been a haven for writers and artists over its more than 100 years in business. The 149 rooms have Art Deco-inspired furniture and photographs of starlets like Audrey Hepburn on the walls. The location, just off Washington Square Park, puts it in the middle of the NYU area (no surprise, it’s popular with parents).