Get us in your inbox

Search
The St. Regis
Photograph: Courtesy St. Regis

The most iconic hotels in NYC

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

Written by
Hannah Howard
Contributors
Rhys Thomas
,
Ed Cunningham
&
Danielle Goldstein
Advertising

You can barely turn a corner in New York City without stumbling on a new well-loved, well-known landmark. From classic attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State and Central Park all the way to the Yankee Stadium and Birdland, the city is practically overspilling with icons of historical and cultural importance. 

But lots of the city's hotels deserve a spot on that list, too. Plenty of NYC's hotels are attractions in themselves, either because they're architecturally outstanding or because they've been graced by famous people, things, or historical events. 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: Full guide to the best hotels in NYC

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.

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.

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

The New Yorker magazine was founded at this Midtown West hotel and major writers such as William Faulkner and Maya Angelou have stayed here. The genteel, Edwardian oak-paneled library is full of literary vibes, while tuxedo-clad waiters serve boozy cocktails to well-heeled guests. And if you've got a moggie, bring them along, as felines are more than welcome. The Algonquin has a long history of having a house cat; the latest is Hamlet, who took over duties in 2017 after the sad passing of former resident cat Matilda. Rest in peace, kitty.

Advertising
  • 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 that was redesigned by David Rockwell in 1995. All in all, a hotel with serious history.

  • 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 2023), 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.

Advertising
  • 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.

Four Seasons Hotel New York
  • Hotels
  • Chain hotels
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

In terms of serious design cred, the Four Seasons has it all. Architect I.M. Pei—the designer of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.—created the lobby with sweeping ceilings and limestone galore. Situated on Billionaire's Row, the 368 rooms here are some of the largest in New York City. And, fun fact, the Four Seasons was a regular stop over point for a certain Mr Big from Sex and the City.

Advertising
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.

  • 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. 

Advertising
  • 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.

  • 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.

Advertising
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.

  • 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.

Take in all of Manhattan from your hotel

Booking.com NYC Map Widget

Booking.com
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!