RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Long Island City, Queens, New York
Although its industrial surroundings are somewhat desolate, Ravel, a complete rebuild of an exisiting motel, occupies a prime spot on the waterfront beside the Queensboro Bridge. Perhaps in keeping with its former incarnation, owner Ravi Patel has given it a vaguely 1960s feel—the lobby is decked out with cream leatherette seating and silver-bubble ceiling lights. It's also equipped with a ‘virtual’ wine bar: buy a card at the front desk and use it at a self-serve bank of more than 18 wines. An 8,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant-bar has dazzling views of Midtown and hosts New York-themed film screenings, DJ nights and other events. The majority of the rooms, many of which have private balconies, also face the river— although a Con-Edison training facility below is less than picturesque. While the room decor isn’t anything special (touches such as orange faux-ostrich headboards and spacious limestone and granite bathrooms announce it as boutique), like any rental in New York, you get more bang for your buck in the outer boroughs—the open-plan superior rooms are a whopping 550 square feet. Rooms 63.
It was only a matter of time: Long Island City’s rampant residential development is spreading to hotels. The Z shares a gritty industrial side street with tool suppliers and flooring wholesalers, but the Queensboro Bridge–side setting and largely low-rise neighbors facilitate its most stunning feature. Architect Andres Escobar built the 11-story property so that each of the 100 rooms faces the river, offering knock-your-socks-off midtown views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Offbeat details, such as lightbulbs encased in mason jars dangling over the bed, wall stencils of iconic New York images and black flip-flops instead of the standard white slippers, enliven the stock boutique luxury of the accommodations. The public spaces are more dramatic: In the lobby, the check-in desk is built from vintage travel trunks, and an old-school train-station-style “departure board” above the elevators spells out welcome in 18 languages. In addition to a vintage-styled “cellar” lounge, the roof terrace offers 360-degree panoramas and a pizza oven behind the bar to dispense hot pies along with the drinks. Rooms: 100.