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Photograph: Courtesy Yotel

The coolest New York City hotels

Check-in before you check out! These are the coolest New York City hotels to stay in before you die...

By Brooke Sager

Most of the time, we think of hotels as temporary tourist lodging in cities that aren’t our own. But then there’s NYC; a cornucopia of fashion-forward and legendary hotels that offer so much more than beds and minibars – they’re destinations in and of themselves.

In NYC, we know how to make every second count, from the best Manhattan restaurants to the best Broadway shows, and since native New Yorkers refuse to miss out on noteworthy experiences, we’ve curated a list of must-stay-in-before-you-die (or move to Westchester) hotels. Yep, ranging from the most trendy to historic, relaxing to splurge-worthy, here are some of the coolest New York City hotels.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best hotels in NYC.

Coolest hotels to stay in before you die

The Plaza, NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Richard Mandelkorn/Plaza Hotel

1. The Plaza

Hotels Spa hotels Midtown West

There’s always something new popping up in NYC – and that’s what makes this iconic hotel that much more alluring.

Best reason to stay there: High tea.

For over a century, Palm Court in The Plaza has remained New York’s premier destination for afternoon tea. And thanks to a renovation in 2013, tea isn't the only thing on the menu. An oval grand bar serving expertly crafted cocktails all day is now in the center of it all, amongst lush flora, lofty palm trees, and trellis and cane details which take inspiration from Central Park (The Plaza’s backyard).

2. Refinery Hotel

Hotels Boutique hotels Midtown West

This former hat factory and Prohibition-era, tearoom-turned-luxury hotel, is dripping with fashionable history. Featuring industrial-chic décor from bottom to top.

Best reason to stay there: Drinks at the Rooftop.

An impressive list of innovative handcrafted cocktails comes with a lively crowd and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and Empire State Building. The roof’s vibe is casual yet chic; rustic yet refined. And you can sip there year-round, as there’s a retractable roof, indoor seating, and an outdoor terrace. Cheers!

Bryant Park Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy Bryant Park Hotel

3. Bryant Park Hotel

Hotels Boutique hotels Midtown West

This ‘designer luxury’ hotel is a total favorite among the fashion and film industries, so it’s no surprise the venue’s stylishly sexy vibe infiltrates its on-premise nightlife.

Best reason to stay there: Clubbing at Cellar Bar.

Residents of the city that never sleeps love a solid late night enjoying the club scene...especially when said club is underground and attended by Victoria’s Secret models. So dig out your stilettos and head to Midtown’s (yes, Midtown!) Cellar Bar, a cavernously chic, gothic-style lounge located in the Bryant Park Hotel. Bottle service starts at 10pm and goes all night, and is served alongside music from some of NYC’s top DJs. Music to our ears.

4. Dream Downtown

Hotels Boutique hotels Chelsea

First off, Dream is in a fab location: just around the corner from Chelsea Market, a block from the High Line and a stone’s throw from the Meatpacking District. Basically, this hotel is everywhere you want to be.

Best reason to stay there: Swim at the rooftop pool.

While many NYC hotels don’t open their pools to non-guests, the dazzling-yet-inclusive Dream Downtown invites you to indulge in a sumptuous beach day at their 5,000 sq ft roof deck oasis (day passes are available). Bury your toes in the white sand beach, soak up the sun from a chaise longue or one of two private cabanas equipped with flat-screen TVs (and a masseuse if you book ahead). Oh, and did we mention that the pool has a glass bottom?


5. Yotel New York

Hotels Boutique hotels Hell's Kitchen

Futuristic, space-age style in Hell's Kitchen, which also hints at what to expect when dining in their Mediterranean-inspired Green Fig restaurant.

Best reason to stay there: Brunch.

Brunch is a New Yorker’s rite of passage. And if your favorite flavor includes poached eggs, watermelon bellinis, and a side of daytime debauchery, Yotel is the definition of #brunchgoals. A 90-minute bottomless brunch is also available upon request. But make no mistake, this is quite the animated affair – we’re talking DJs, costumed dancers and large communal tables.

6. Mandarin Oriental New York

Hotels Chain hotels Hell's Kitchen

This internationally acclaimed business traveler’s paradise has five stars for a reason: the scene, the service and the spa. 

Best reason to stay there: Spa day.

Relaxing doesn’t come easy to New Yorkers, but you shouldn't struggle with this utterly serene award-winning spa spread over two luxurious floors, with highly trained therapists and panoramic (silent) views of Central Park through floor-to-ceiling windows. Situated in (but more so above) Columbus Circle, the Mandarin Oriental’s day spa is a calming respite in the midst of the concrete jungle. Fluffy robes, on.


7. Crosby Street Hotel

Hotels Boutique hotels Soho

Crosby Street’s Kit Kemp-owned-and-designed icon is as inviting as it is acclaimed, welcoming guests with both an air of refinement and a splash of unexpected color.

Best reason to stay there: Catch a flick.

When the multiplex’s soda-drenched floors are cramping your style, make your way to the quaint cobblestone streets of SoHo for a 'reel' experience. The Crosby Street Hotel runs a film club in their luxe, state-of-the-art cinema, which is open to hotel guests and the public. The evening begins with a three-course dinner or a cocktail and bar plate, followed by an 8pm showing of the movie of the week. Check out upcoming movies here.

8. The Standard

Hotels Chain hotels Meatpacking District

Floating above the iconic High Line, The Standard’s 338 rooms all boast a modern-minimalist vibe with soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and rain showers.

Best reason to stay there: Indulge in a staycation.

New Yorkers love irony as much as they love a grand experience, and since The Standard is anything but, trading your Murray Hill studio for a weekend 'away' in this landmark is a must. Play ping-pong in the lively German Biergarten; peruse the outdoor art; head up to Le Bain and its adjoining 35-foot rooftop bar – complete with a 'grass' surface, DJ, and plunge pool.

MADE Lobby
Photograph: Courtesy Lester Ali

9. MADE Hotel

Hotels Boutique hotels Flatiron

The Nomad Group's boutique hotel offers simply lovely Scandi style in the heart of Manhattan. Plus views to die for, best admired through their floor-to-ceiling windows.

Best reason to stay there: Reward for good behavior.

Behind the hotel's unassuming wood-panelled exterior is Good Behavior. This is their eighteenth-floor bar, which serves up Tiki-inspired cocktails (and craft beer) with panoramic views of the capital. There are seats indoors and out, with lush plants everywhere, so it really doesn't matter where you choose to sit, because there's a great vibe all round.

10. The Ludlow

Hotels Boutique hotels Lower East Side

Make reservations here to experience sumptuous decor, impeccable views and exquisite dining in the heart of the Lower East Side.

Best reason to stay there: For a slap-up French meal.

The Ludlow's restaurant, Dirty French, has a decisively friendly-but-firm New York City vibe and serves up buttery meals of substance. Gorgeously plated tuna tartare, tender pork chops and delicious sea bass and wine pairings followed by the Opera peanut butter and chocolate cake – topped with dreamy banana ice cream – should satisfy any foodie worth their weight in 'sel'.


11. The Pierre

Hotels Boutique hotels Lenox Hill

This stalwart of the New York hotel scene is still as classic and elegant today as the day it first opened in 1930.

Best reason to stay there: To take a trip back in time.

The Rotunda on the ground level is the room that The Pierre is most well-known for. The curved walls and grandiose murals, painted by Edward Melcarth in 1976, make the room feel like it was plucked straight from a rococo fairytale setting. It was newly renovated by Daniel Romualdez to include a full bar and light snacks in the afternoon and evening. But aside from that, it’s just really, really pretty.

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