Your New York City bucket list isn’t complete unless you’ve checked out these coolest New York City hotels to stay in before you die. Hotels are most often regarded as temporary tourist lodging in cities that aren’t their own. But then there’s NYC—a cornucopia of hip and legendary hotels that offer so much more than beds and minibars, they’re destinations in and of themselves. And if you’re making a Manhattan staycation of it, why not treat yourself to the best Manhattan restaurants? Or the best Broadway shows? In NYC, we know how to make every second count, 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—ranging from trendy to historic, and relaxing to splurge-worthy.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best hotels in NYC
Coolest hotels to stay in before you die
It’s exciting that there’s always something new popping up in NYC—yet that’s also what makes this iconic hotel that much more alluring.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: High tea
For over a century, The Palm Court located in the unparalleled Plaza Hotel has remained New York’s premiere destination for afternoon tea—a charming and elegant tradition. And thanks to its recent 2013 renovation and re-launch, 25 Palais des Thés teas aren’t the only things on the menu to sip on: 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. Still remaining is the room’s original sky-high stained-glass dome from 1907 and the same historic, sophisticated spirit. So yes, you can still very much relish the fact you’re enjoying fine pastries in the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Pinkies up!
Located in the heart of the Garment District, this former hat factory and Prohibition-era tearoom-turned-luxury hotel is dripping with fashionable history. Refinery Hotel pays tribute to its Garment District memoir with industrial-chic décor from bottom to top, including 12-foot ceilings, distressed hardwood floors, and its renowned Refinery Rooftop—a dynamic, modern space that still has an old school New York feel that Manhattanites and visitors alike come to bask in.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Drinks at the Rooftop
An impressive list of innovative handcrafted cocktails like the Baby Doll (vodka, fresh watermelon juice, fresh lemon juice, splash of pineapple juice—yes, please) 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, if you will. And you can sip there year-round, as there’s a retractable roof, indoor seating, and an outdoor terrace.
The “designer luxury” hotel is a favorite stay 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 for New Yorkers: Clubbing at Cellar Bar
Residents of the city that never sleeps love a solid late night club scene—especially when said club is underground and attended by Victoria’s Secret models. So put on your stilettos and head to Midtown’s (yes, Midtown!) Cellar Bar, a cavernously chic, gothic-style lounge located in the Bryant Park Hotel. Cellar Bar has hosted private events with Heidi Klum, Nicky Hilton, Chanel, HBO (just to name a few), so clearly its weekend late night party scene is not to be missed. Bottle service starts at 10pm and goes all night, and is served up with music from NYC’s top DJs, an energetic atmosphere, specialty cocktail list, and frequent celebrity sightings. What more could you want at 4am?
The Dream Downtown’s first selling point is its obviously spectacular location. Just around the corner from Chelsea Market, a block from the High Line, and a stone’s throw from the Meatpacking District and West Village, this hotel is literally everywhere you want to be.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Swim at the rooftop pool
Because a typical day at the town pool is for the suburban birds. 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.-foot roof deck oasis (day passes are $60.) Bury your toes in the white sand beach (the only one in Manhattan), soak up the sun from a Cote D’Azur-style chaise lounge or one of two private cabanas equipped with flat screen TVs (and a masseuse if you book ahead), order a glass of rosé from the full service bar and grill, and jam out to the DJ with scantily, albeit stylishly, clad company. But the best part of all is undeniably the 500-foot heated glass-bottom pool situated high above the clouds, which allows you to dive in and peep on guests in the lobby. Just remember that it goes both ways—so don’t pee in the pool.
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, the hotel’s futuristic, space-age style is a foretaste of what’s to come at your meal, which goes down in their Mediterranean-inspired Green Fig restaurant (or their outdoor Terrace during warmer months.)
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Brunch
On weekends, 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 New York is the definition of #brunchgoals. The price is right: for $18, you get one brunch entrée and one cocktail; or for $35, enjoy 2 hours of unlimited eating and drinking. But make no mistake, this is quite the animated affair—we’re talking DJ spinning, costumed dancers, booze flowing, large communal tables– it’s essentially a dance party. From 11am-4pm. Every Saturday and Sunday. So maybe it’s not ideal for after-church brunching with your grandmother—unless Granny knows how to do The Dab.
This internationally acclaimed business traveler’s paradise has five stars for a reason: The scene, the service and the spa make up the trifecta that sets the Mandarin Oriental a cut above the rest.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Spa day
Relaxing doesn’t come easy to New Yorkers. All it takes is stylish yet utterly serene award-winning spa spread out over the 35th and 36th floors of a luxurious hotel, 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, allowing you to take a breather from your L train commute and leave New York behind without actually doing so—it’s no wonder that sixty-percent of its clientele are actually Manhattanites who keep coming back. The hotel’s Eastern roots are echoed in the spa’s tranquil-chic décor and the entire meditative journey, for which you’re invited to block off at least a two-hour time slot; soak in the jacuzzi, relax in the Amethyst Crystal steam room, then enjoy massages, facials, Ayurvedic rituals, and in-room yoga lessons.
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 around every corner.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Catch a flick
For those Sunday evenings when the multiplex’s Dr. Pepper-drenched floors are kind of cramping your style, make your way down the quaint cobblestone streets of SoHo for a “reel” great experience. The airy, fresh, and contemporary Crosby Street Hotel runs a Film Club in their luxe, state-of-the-art cinema, which is open to both hotel guests and the public. The evening begins with a three-course dinner ($55) or a cocktail and bar plate ($35) in the spacious Crosby Bar, and is followed by an 8pm showing of the movie of the week. (All of the above pairs well with their extensive cocktail and wine menu.) Make a reservation and check out the list of upcoming flicks here.
Floating above the iconic High Line, the hotel’s 338 rooms all boast a modern-minimalist vibe with soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and rain showers—both of which display sprawling views of the skyline and Hudson River.
Best reason to stay there for New Yorkers: Indulge in a staycation
New Yorkers love irony as much as they love a uniquely grand experience. And since The Standard is anything but standard, trading your Murray Hill studio for a weekend “away” in this NYC landmark is an epic must. But don’t let yourself get too comfy in the flour-like beds, because The Standard’s stimulating scene beckons you to pack a punch into your stay: Play ping-pong at the lively German Biergarten; peruse the outdoor art garden; head up to Le Bain and its adjoining 35-foot rooftop bar, complete with a “grass” surface, DJ, and plunge pool; order a New York Strip at the renowned Standard Grill, then treat yo’self to a nightcap at The Top Of The Standard. The takeaway: even while being centrally located to vibrant Meatpacking nightlife, upscale restaurants, and the Whitney Museum, leaving the premises during your staycation is optional—unnecessary, even.