When you’re trying to choose from the overwhelming array of New York hotels, one strategy is to narrow it down by area. If Museum Mile institutions such as the Met are on your itinerary, you might want to base yourself on the Upper East Side. The Upper West Side is home to some of the city’s premier performing-arts venues, including the Metropolitan Opera House and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, while Harlem has lively bars, lots of history and one of the city’s classic music venues.
The 1930 landmark overlooking Central Park became part of the posh Indian Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces in 2005, setting in motion a $100 million overhaul—but it retains delightfully old-fashioned elements such as elevator operators and original fireplaces in some suites. In contrast to the glitzy public spaces, including the mural-clad Rotunda and the Grand Ballroom, the classic rooms are understated, dressed in a neutral color palette and immaculate upholstery, with modern gadgets including Bose radio/iPod docks. The sumptuous Turkish marble bathrooms are generously stocked with Molton Brown bath products. The Asian influence is reflected in silk bedspreads from Bangalore and contemporary Indian art, but the hotel restaurant is the fancy but inviting French eatery, Perrine. For before-dinner drinks or a sumptuous afternoon tea, sit on the plush green velvet seats of the recently reopened Rotunda, surrounded by walls painted with a custom mural resembling the classicist style, but paying homage to moments of the 1960s. Rooms: 189.
A hidden place within the elegant avenues of New York's Upper East Side is currently in the spotlight. The Lowell Hotel is a serene establishment that is tucked away within a residential block and surrounded by some of the top fashion stores in the world. This 74-room hotel is 17 floors full of creature comforts, refined artwork and posh furnishings, and is consistently named one of the best hotels in the world. The minute you walk into the lobby of the Lowell Hotel you are immediately hit with the smell of fresh orchids and hydrangeas. The enticing scent only gets better with the complimentary hot chocolate and cookies offered to guests while checking in (best way to beat off the New York winter chills). The Italian marble lobby is currently under renovation but is still quite extravagant, with no expense spared by the current owners. This boutique hotel has been decorated by famed interior designer, Michael Smith. He is best known for decorating the Obama’s private residences in the White House and being BFF’s with the family. When you get up to your private residence, be thankful you don’t have to deal with the typical flimsy hotel key card; you actually get an wrought iron key to unlock your oasis. One also may luck out and get one of the few rooms with an actual wood burning fireplace, a rarity in NYC. Just make sure to call down to the front desk to have them light it, while you are lounging in your sitting room, drinking fresh made Keurig coffee and wrapped in your c
The Surrey is a slice of English charm situated less than one block east of Central Park. It’s so serenely secluded, in fact, that you’ll likely never want to leave its privacy. Instead, savor afternoon tea with a side of celebrity sightings while gazing upon the park from afar. Life could be worse.
This stylish hotel with its seamless blend of art deco and industrial chic decor still manages to maintain that cozy casual neighborhood vibe. Tourists mingle with Upper West Side locals who come to enjoy the dimly lit ambience of the hotel’s 1920’s inspired bar, library and piano lounge. Many of the loft-inspired rooms have balconies, and terraces on the 14th and 16th floors offer sweeping views of the Hudson, Central Park, and Midtown that just might render you speechless. You won’t go hungry either with three restaurants to choose from, including the popular Northern Italian trattoria Serafina, and RedFarm- a hip Chinese dim sum spot. For small bites and cocktails, try the lobby bar LOCL with jazz era libations like the decadent “bubbles and pink” made with with Croft Pink Port, Prosecco Champagne, Cointreau and bitters.
Few hotels embody luxury and style as effortlessly as this East Side institution, which evokes a first-class experience of pre-war Art Deco elegance that is cozy and classy, with minimal pretension. Since the 1940s, the Carlyle has been a preferred spot for dignitaries, celebrities and politicians. President John F. Kennedy slept there (or rather, didn’t, with Marilyn Monroe), as did Sinatra, Princess Diana and Broadway legend Elaine Stritch. Part of the attraction is location: tucked away on East 76th and Madison Avenue, far from the chaos of midtown Manhattan. Most of the rooms are decorated in a tasteful Louis XIV style, but if you are lucky (i.e., rich) enough to score a deluxe tower room (around $1,300 a night), you will be treated to romantic views of Central Park, plus a small but handy kitchenette. Repeat guests and those who rent suites and above will be surprised by monogrammed pillows. The overall vibe, whatever your price point: the cool midcentury elegance of Mad Men. For a formal but relaxed dining experience, you could try the Carlyle Restaurant downstairs. If you like cabaret, the world-class Café Carlyle features singers Tuesdays through Sundays, ranging from beloved Broadway divas to longtime guest Woody Allen blowing on his clarinet. Before or after dinner, you must get a drink in the Bemelmans Bar. The place takes its name from the children’s book author Ludwig Bemelmans (he created Madeleine), who covered the bar’s walls in his playful drawings (an elep
The dark-wood interior, moody lighting and lilting jazz music make musician Rene Calvo’s Harlem inn feel more like a 1930s speakeasy than a 21st-century B&B. The airy suites, named for Harlem Renaissance figures such as Chester Himes and Cozy Cole, have restored tin ceilings, a quirky mix of junk-store furnishings and period knick-knacks, and working sinks in original antique cabinets. There are just two suites per floor; each pair shares a bathroom. Rooms: 4.
Aloft is the first of two higher-end Harlem hotels. Part of the Starwood family, it offers a design-led, environmentally focused experience. Everything about this property is modern and hip, from the lighting fixtures, clean lines and color splashes in the lobby, to the oversized stylus-and-vinyl artwork adorning the guest rooms. Aloft offers 122 rooms, each decked with a plush platform bed, 42-inch flat screen, mini fridge, oversized shower, Bliss Spa products, ergonomic workspace and free WiFi. There is no restaurant as such, but Re:fuel is a cafe offering snacks on demand, and W XYZ is a trendy nightspot with cocktails, music, pool and even live performances. If you’re hungry, you could do worse than make the short trip to Sylvia’s or Red Rooster. And if you do, you’re going to need to use the Re:charge fitness center, which is open to guests 24/7. Aloft Harlem also offers one of New York’s greenest hotel experiences. Natural materials like cork and sustainable wood veneers are integrated into the hotel’s design. Showers feature product dispensers to reduce landfill litter from non-biodegradable bottles (unused soap is recycled and distributed to domestic homeless shelters or countries that are in need of it), and all rooms have recycling receptacles. Meanwhile, guests are encouraged to participate in the Make a Green Choice initiative in which they earn a $5 food/drink voucher for each night they decline housekeeping services and re-use towels. Aloft is located in the hea
This historic 1903 property with original mosaic tiling in the lobby and a quaint coffee bar has a distinctly European vibe. Mark Twain and Babe Ruth both stayed here as guests, and if you want to be surrounded by memorabilia reminiscent of these famous denizens, you can stay in one of the hotel’s themed suites. Not only will you find free coffee and pastries in the morning but also a free New York Times, and better yet, free WiFi throughout the entire hotel.
There is something about staying on the Upper West Side that makes you feel more like a local than a tourist. This may be especially true at Hotel Beacon, with its spacious residential rooms featuring kitchenettes which include a fridge, microwave and stovetop. Fairway is right across the street, so you’ll have access to some gourmet groceries to prepare at your home away from home. Book a room above the 23rd floor, and you’re likely to have killer views of the Hudson River. It’s hard to beat this hotel for proximity to entertainment. Take in a concert at the famous Beacon Theatre next door, or stop in the hotel’s elegant Beacon Bar for live piano music.