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The St. Regis
Photograph: Courtesy St. Regis

The most iconic hotels in NYC for a one-of-a-kind trip

You haven’t truly seen the city that never sleeps until you’ve relaxed in one of New York’s most iconic hotels

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The grand New York City is full of iconic, well-loved landmarks. People flock from all around the globe to spy on classic attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State, and Central Park all the way to the Yankee Stadium and Birdland. NYC is the hub for all things historical and of cultural importance, so naturally, you'll want to follow the experience to a hotel that matches the vibe.

There are a lot of hotels that are considered attractions in themselves. From the architecturally breathtaking to the places that famous people venture to or even ones that were once the site of a historical event. Many are also exceptionally luxurious and considered among the top hotels in the entire country – but even if you're just looking, they're certainly worth a visit. And if you can afford to stay there? They're totally worth it, obviously. 

RECOMMENDED:
🗽See our full guide to the best hotels in NYC
🏨Check out best hotels with a view in NYC 
💘Stay in the most romantic hotels in NYC

Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in every hotel featured below, we've based our list on top reviews and amenities to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

Most iconic hotels in NYC

  • Hotels
  • Spa hotels
  • Midtown West
  • price 4 of 4

Nothing says classic New York like the century-old Plaza Hotel, which sits majestically on the southeastern corner of Central Park. The Plaza was the site of Truman Capote’s famous Black and White Ball and home to a section of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The hotel was designated an official landmark by the NY City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969 and, in 2008, a $400 million facelift made the luxurious spot even spiffier. Sip a glass of bubbly in the lobby Champagne Bar or revel in the splendor of the Rose Club. Very classy, folks, very classy indeed.

The mood? The splendour of the Golden Age. 
Location perks? Aside from the absolutely stunning 24-karat gold-plated fixtures, the Plaza also boasts a cracking afternoon tea, Guerlain Spa and 24-hour fitness facilities. 
Budget range? It's top dollar so expect no less than movie star treatment. 

Algonquin Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Chain hotels
  • Midtown West
  • price 3 of 4

Believe us when we say pictures don't do this place justice. The birthplace of the New Yorker magazine and big-shot writers such as William Faulkner and Maya Angelou have stayed here at the Algonquin which continues to boast a rich literary and theatrical reputation throughout its walls. There's the genteel, Edwardian oak-paneled library, the tuxedo-clad waiters who serve boozy cocktails to well-heeled guests, and then of course Hamlet, the resident cat. So if you've got a moggie, bring them along. Felines are more than welcome here. 

The mood? Antique luxury. 
Location perks? This hotel is much loved for its historical charm and ambience, while it's also in a prime spot – only a stone's throw from Times Square. 
Budget range? Still way less than a certain designer bag that rhymes with Pirkin ... 

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Hotel Edison Times Square
Courtesy: Booking.com

3. Hotel Edison Times Square

The Hotel Edison is among the first Art Deco hotels in New York City's Theater District and has been around since 1931, so you bet there's a lot of history packed into this retro hotel. The hotel combines comfort and classic charm for the ultimate place to rest on your travels to the Big Apple. The hotel's iconic history includes Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb, who turned on the marquee lights of the hotel himself. The gorgeous building has also been the backdrop in many Hollywood films such as The Godfather and Birdman. Hollywood stars and theater buffs often visit The Rum House and The Edison Ballroom for get-togethers, so if you're lucky, you might spot a few famous faces. 

The mood? "Modern comfort meets classic charm". 
Location perks? Close to all the major attractions such as Rockefeller Centre, The MoMA, Bryant Park and more.  
Budget range? A decent price for Times Square. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Midtown East
  • price 3 of 4

Built in 1926 by Max Haering, a Swiss man who wanted a European-style hotel, the Elysée was named after the fanciest French restaurant around at the time. The ghost of Tennessee Williams, who lived in the hotel for 15 years and died in the Sunset suite, is said to haunt the halls. Spooky. Marlon Brando had his own room too, now dubbed the "Sayonara" suite after his role in Teahouse of the August Moon. Relax at the infamous Monkey Bar, a former mafia hangout of yesteryear redesigned by David Rockwell in 1995. All in all, it's a hotel with serious history.

The mood? French Country style.
Location perks? A stay here feels cozy, ambient and luxurious all at once. There's a daily snack bar, a gym and a library to enjoy. 
Budget range? Find rooms under $700 for two nights when you book well in advance. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

The original Waldorf Astoria began as two hotels on Fifth Avenue, built by feuding relatives in 1893. The lobby is everything an iconic hotel should be—grand, chandeliered and full of art deco luxury. Given its age, the Waldorf is currently undergoing a complete renovation and restoration (set to reopen in 2025), but so iconic is it in New York's history that we couldn't leave it off the list. Every President since FDR has slept in one of the 26 Presidential Suites and, for a pretty penny, so can you.

The mood? Glitzy, ornate. 
Location perks? Hotel spa, 24-hour in-residence dining, and a  drop-dead gorgeous grand ballroom.
Budget range? No expense spared here. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

Built by business tycoon John Jacob Astor IV, who perished on the Titanic, this stunning 1904 Fifth Avenue five-starrer is worth a visit even if you've not got a room booked. The Beaux Arts building is extremely regal, with chandeliers, gold-flourished regency decor, murals and white-gloved butlers. The hotel's King Cole Bar was supposedly birthplace to the bloody Mary and, as declared in 1988, the St. Regis is officially a New York City Landmark. Classy doesn't even begin to cover it.

The mood? Stunning and regal.
Location perks? St Regis is all about timeless elegance and unparalleled luxury. Everything from the luxury car service and rooftop ballroom with insane panoramic views of Midtown Manhattan to the butler service and plush designer suites. 
Budget range? Hey big spender...

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The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
  • Hotels
  • Chain hotels
  • Midtown West
  • price 4 of 4

Swiss hotelier César Ritz not only lives on in the legacy of his swanky hotels, but he is also the reason we now have the word ritzy. This 33-floor limestone building on Central Park South was formerly the St. Moritz Hotel, but was reopened as the Ritz-Carlton in 2002. Its rooms have panoramic views and telescopes—the better to soak it all in with. Contour, right off the lobby, serves a spot-on apropos Manhattan.

The mood? Spacious and lux.
Location perks? Steeped in classic luxury. 
Budget range? Rooms typically start from $779 per night. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 2 of 4

Tucked away in the former bohemian abode of Greenwich Village, the log-book of Washington Square Hotel is a trove of famous artists, writers and musicians. Bob Dylan famously once lived in Room 305 and Dylan Thomas was a regular—but the century-old hotel itself long outdates both of them. These days the Washington is full of tourists and the parents of students at nearby NYU, but it still retains its art deco bar and lobby, as well as its awesome views over leafy Washington Square Park. 

The mood? Contemporary meets art deco.
Location perks? Enjoy the North Square Lounge where you can sample New York craft beers and spirits, or swap the pint for some serious reps in the on-site gym. Not your style? Enjoy a relaxing massage at the spa.
Budget range? An affordable weekend of bliss. 

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The Hotel Chelsea
Image courtesy of The Hotel Chelsea/booking.com

9. The Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea isn’t one of NYC’s swishest hotels but it is easily one of the most iconic. This historic gem has seen many of the world’s best writers, artists, photographers and models shimmy through its doors. Like, for example, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen (just to give you a flavour). In its modern iteration it’s more than a museum piece. The uniquely deocrated rooms are a blend of boho chic with rock and roll flourishes (bit of animal print never did anyone any harm). Don’t miss the chance to have a drink or two in the wonderfully decadent Lobby Bar.

The mood? Rock and roll purity.

Location perks? Head south to Greenwich Village then use the Flatiron Building to handily help you find your way back home again.

Budget range? Surprisingly affordable given its cult status.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Lenox Hill
  • price 4 of 4

Since 1930, presidents, celebrities and big-name artists have stayed at this Upper East Side hotel. Kennedy and Marilyn reportedly trusted their affair to the discreet white-gloved staff of The Carlyle. The original designs are by Dorothy Draper and the Louis XV lobby furniture fills the place with character from a bygone era. The original murals in Bemelmans Bar, painted by the joint's namesake Ludwig Bemelmans (author of the Madeline children's picture books), are absolutely worth stopping to admire.

The mood? Vintage, elegant.  
Location perks? Central Park is a short few blocks away.
Budget range? This hefty sum offers nothing but refinement.  

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Lenox Hill
  • price 4 of 4

This stalwart of the New York hotel scene is still as classic and elegant today as the day it opened in 1930. The Rotunda on the ground level is a must-see. 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. It was newly renovated by Daniel Romualdez to include a full bar and light snacks in the afternoon and evening.

The mood? Midcentury elegance. 
Location perks? Expect a luxury white glove service with an extra helping of jaw-dropping city views from the rooftop. 
Budget range? It's certainly top dollar to stay here. 

Lotte New York Palace
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Midtown East
  • price 3 of 4

The Palace's famous façade was built as a private mansion in 1882. Since 1980, the original building was converted into a hotel and a 55-floor tower full of rooms was added to the building, which has a gorgeous courtyard overlooking St. Patrick's Cathedral. A grand staircase leads up to rooms with sweeping city views and sleek décor. Get up to some mischief at Trouble's Trust, the Palace’s clubby cocktail lounge.

The mood? Exquisitely furnished and spacious. 
Location perks? Fancy brunch or breakfast? On-site restaurant The Villard's got you covered – open every weekend. 
Budget range? A high-end couple's break. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Tribeca
  • price 4 of 4

Natural wood furnishings, a secluded courtyard, and a luxurious Japanese spa bring a sense of serenity to this Tribeca hotel. This chic spot has 88 rooms and suites, and is proud that no two are alike. Expect plenty of comfy touches while you stay, ensuring that this New York boutique hotel really feels like a home away from home. If you do need a little extra comfort? Check out Shibui Spa, which offers a variety of massages and treatments to help you unwind.

The mood? Vintage meets urban luxury. 
Location perks? The Shibui Spa, underground pool, and Italian-style on-site restaurant are among our favorites. 
Budget range? Big bucks. 

Take in all of Manhattan from your hotel

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