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NYC Hotel Confidential

Carlyle, Jessica Antola

Photos by Jessica Antola

The Central Park Tower Suite at The Carlyle hotel, with its eye-popping vistas across Central Park.

This city may never sleep, but it does have some world-class places to spend the night. From Midtown to Battery Park, charming new boutique properties to stately historic mainstays, some of NYC’s most happening spots are turning up in its vast collection of stellar hotels. Here, we cover some of the best ways to grab a drink, dine with the stars, ogle the skyline and maybe even catch some shuteye.


       
The Two E Bar at The Pierre.        

MAKING HISTORY: The things they’d say if these walls could talk.

The Algonquin Hotel: The famed Round Table—a society of young writers during the 1920s that included Dorothy Parker and Alexander Wollcott—gives this landmark hotel’s Round Table Room restaurant its name and literary cachet. Today, quotes from Round Table members adorn the door of each guest room.

The Pierre: Old New York is alive and well at this opulent 1930s hotel featuring white-glove elevator operators and elaborate ballrooms. Once owned by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, The Pierre welcomed everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Elizabeth Taylor, who owned a private residence here.

The Chatwal: Formerly the clubhouse of the historic Lambs Club, this 1930s Beaux Arts building once served as a gathering point for such theater greats as John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire.

The Quin: The old Buckingham Hotel and one-time hideaway for Georgia O’Keeffe, Marc Chagall and other artists opened last year as a contemporary luxury hotel. Nods to its eminent past now include a drawing room showing artwork by contemporary street artists Blek Le Rat and suites dedicated to O’Keeffe and Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

High Line Hotel: This former seminary sits on the site of an 18th-century apple orchard, a stone’s throw from the city’s High Line elevated park. The historic Hoffman Hall, a Gothic structure with soaring ceilings and stained glass windows, now houses the hotel’s event space. 


CHEAP DATES: Forget dingy hostels: These hotels are cheap and cheerfully stylish.

YOTEL NEW YORK: The slick futurism of this Midtown West hotel includes streamlined modular guest rooms, a trendy sushi joint and a terrace with terrific skyline views.

NYLO: The Upper West Side’s newest—and quite nearly only—hotel borrows a page from the Ace Hotel’s playbook with a speakeasy-style lounge furnished with velvet sofas and a trendy coffee shop and bar.

Hilton New York Fashion District: The Fashion District’s wallet-friendly hotel is suitably fashionable, with pinstripe carpeting, art made from thread spools and exhibits of works from acclaimed photographers and artists throughout the hotel.

The Moderne: True to its name, this mod boutique near Columbus Circle is a pop culture explosion, with modern art prints, metallic furniture and vibrant colors and patterns on the walls and floors.

 

       
Grab a bite at The Breslin.        

POWER PLATES: There’s a power breakfast—or lunch—for everyone.

Norma’s: Magazine editors and financial players fill up the bustling, airy restaurant in the Le Parker Meridien on West 56th Street. Have your EA book your regular table and order the huevos rancheros or the crunchy French toast.

Maialino: Uber restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Italian eatery just off the lobby of the Gramercy Park Hotel attracts a bustling crowd. Think fashion/entertainment/music bigwigs who start their day off with cacio e pepe eggs and ricotta pancakes. Dress down or up, the rustic dining room with its blue-and-white- checked table cloths and wine-stocked shelves is homey and inviting.

Asiate: Publishing and entertainment execs come to this 35th-floor restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental as much to talk shop over Wagyu beef and branzino as to ogle the aerial views of Central Park.

Jean-Georges: The three-Michelin–starred cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s eponymous restaurant in the Trump International Tower and Hotel serves the ultimate multicourse prix fixe with amazing bites of foie gras brûlée, egg caviar and madai sashimi.

The Garden: This forestlike restaurant overlooking the lobby of the Four Seasons is the perfect spot for sealing deals over lemon ricotta hotcakes.

The Breslin: The Ace Hotel’s next generation of power lunches is for tattooed graphic designers and trend-setting PR execs, blending chef April Bloomfield’s meaty gastropub cuisine with potent cocktails.

Koi Restaurant: Sushi power lunches at this Bryant Park Hotel hot spot are a favorite among California transplants and entertainment VIPs both for the exceptional small plates (try the edamame dumplings) and happening, clubby atmosphere.

The Regency Bar & Grill: Reserve a table at the ne plus ultra Gotham power breakfast in the just-overhauled Lowes Regency Hotel on Park Avenue. Maitre d’ Leigh Wynn watches over the clubby room and ensures that the tycoons are properly positioned—politically, that is. Fruit, oatmeal and egg whites are the preferred dishes of regulars, but there are eggs Benedict on the menu, too. 

 

       
Relax in front of the fireplace at The Marlton, the latest hotel from Sean MacPherson in the heart of the Village.        

BOUTIQUE GEMS: Hotels that are charming and chic in their own eclectic ways.

The Viceroy: Soaring high above West 57th Street on Midtown’s new “Hotel Row,” the Viceroy brings a slice of midcentury-modern design uptown. The hotel’s public spaces—designed by whiz team Roman and Williams—mix contemporary art with dramatic stone-wrapped walls and clubby seating. Upstairs, Iroko wood paneling, leather, brass details and black, muntined windows set the scene in the intimate guest rooms. Expect crisp, intuitive service from the Viceroy’s natty staff that channels the slick pied-à-terre of which you’ve always dreamed.

The Mark: Perfectly situated on Madison Avenue in the heart of the Upper East Side, The Mark offers a chic, residential feel (albeit with star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in charge of the kitchen). The dramatic public spaces feature black-and-white stone, graphic floors and contemporary styling courtesy of superstar designer Jacques Grange. The Mark’s Parisian-styled rooms offer a cooling color palette offset with boldly colored works of contemporary art and stacks of coffee-table books—not to mention a selection of Laduree macarons that appear at your bedside the first night of your stay. Check out one of the hotel’s signature black-and-white bikes and explore nearby Central Park with a picnic courtesy of JGV, complete with blanket and cutlery.

The NoMad: The NoMad is the latest hotel to spring up in the now-happening triangle perched at the edge of the Garment District. Think accessible luxury: Paris-based interior designer Jacques Garcia tackled the overhaul of the historic belle epoque-styled edifice. Bohemian elegance takes center stage thanks to eclectic groupings of art, antique fireplace mantels, vintage Persian rugs and cozy seating groups. Partake of a cocktail in the airy Atrium, the stunning bilevel Library or at the 24-foot-long mahogany Bar before dining in The Parlour. There’s also a gorgeous, landscaped Rooftop garden on the 12th floor, with terrific vistas of the city.

Gramercy Park Hotel: What do Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst have in common? This glamorous Gramercy hotel filled with a rotating gallery of original artwork and mounds of velvet, leather and silk. Interiors by the eccentric artist Julian Schnabel are bohemian and theatrical, including Moroccan tile floors and a 10-foot hand-carved stone fireplace in the lobby and English drinking cabinets with crystal goblets in the guest rooms. Everything here is exclusive: access to the velvet-roped Rose Bar, the private rooftop terrace and, best of all, a key to the neighborhood’s Gramercy Park.

The Marlton Hotel: Long before hotelier Sean MacPherson turned this early-1900s Greenwich Village hotel into an upscale “mini-Ritz,” it served as a beatnik’s hideout. Jack Kerouac, Neil Cassady and the radical feminist Valerie Solanas (best known for her assassination attempt on Andy Warhol) all called it home at one time. Today, The Marlton evokes a charming Parisian vibe, with original wood floors, 1920s-inspired light fixtures and plenty of whimsy to spare.

The Greenwich Hotel: This trendy Tribeca retreat has the kind of slightly rustic yet sophisticated style that only Robert De Niro could achieve. The actor/entrepreneur and Ira Druckier opened this luxury boutique hotel in 2009 with 88 rooms, a Japanese shibui spa and one of Manhattan’s most star-studded restaurants, Locanda Verde. Hang out next to the fireplace in the guests-only drawing room or head underground for a dip in the subterranean swimming pool.

The SurreyInfusing a bit of downtown cool into the sometimes-stuffy Upper East Side, this swanky hotel near The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim and Gagosian Gallery is an art lover’s haven inside and out. A Chuck Close tapestry of Kate Moss and artworks by the likes of William Kentridge and Richard Serra hang in the marble lobby of the 17th-century Beaux Arts–style building, while Duxiana mattresses and U.K. brand Mitchell and Peach amenities add appropriately ritzy touches to the 190 rooms. The hotel’s Daniel Boulud cuisine is a must, whether hobnobbing at Café Boulud or ordering in-room after a day of museum hopping.


       
A dish at Café Boulud.        

FAMOUS EATS: Celebrity chefs are heating up the hotel restaurant scene.

Gordon Ramsay at the London: Great Britain’s superstar chef fits right in at The London, where the sophisticated cuisine matches the upper-crust clientele. If the five-course tasting menu at Ramsay’s namesake restaurant proves daunting, head next door to his MAZE outpost for lobster potpie or Nantucket Bay scallop risotto.

The Mercer KitchenAt this sleek subterranean restaurant attached to André Balazs’ Mercer hotel, Jean-Georges Vongerichten matches Soho’s sexy style with pared-down plates and a trendy urban style. The French-meets-American comfort fare is especially tasty during the wee hours, when the late-night menu features the Mercer Burger topped with crunchy onions and Russian dressing.

Má PêcheLocated in the basement of Midtown’s Chambers Hotel, this communal restaurant from Momofuku founder David Chang is a meaty haven of deep-fried short ribs and roasted rack of lamb, with the added benefit of a raw bar featuring endless amounts of clams, shrimp and oysters. Finish up the night with something sweet from the adjoining Momofuku Milk Bar.

Café Boulud: Daniel Boulud’s NYC empire is vast and ever expanding, but this Upper East Side eatery at The Surrey is a Michelin-starred favorite for its understated French fare and fresh seasonal dishes.

Locanda Verde: Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel has even more star power thanks to this Andrew Carmellini restaurant perennially packed with A-list celebrities. But it’s not all tabloid hype here: The classic Italian cuisine is a legitimate draw with complex yet clean small plates such as lamb meatball sliders with caprino and cucumber and the pancetta-wrapped pork with walnuts and pear mustard.


INSIDE SCOOP: What’s new, hot and hidden away on the New York City hotel scene.

Burger JointThe elegant Le Parker Meridien’s hole-and-corner dive is a delicious little secret hidden behind a sea of long velvet curtains. Follow your nose through the sparkling marble lobby, pull back the drapes and nestle into a vinyl booth for one of the city’s best cheeseburgers.

Rose BarAs if the Gramercy Park Hotel’s swanky Rose Bar couldn’t get any more exclusive, the velvet-swathed nightclub has introduced invite-only sessions showcasing performances by the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Liza Minelli for fewer than 100 guests.

New and Fabulous: The Park Hyatt New York on West 57th Street will open this summer in starchitect Christian de Portzamparc’s striking One57 skyscraper. Think interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg, a dramatic multilevel spa and cuisine from chef Sam Hazen.


BRANCHING OUT: These outer-borough crash pads are worth the commute.

Located on the edge of Williamsburg’s McCarren Park, King & Grove is the latest of Brooklyn’s patently hipster hangouts, offering The Elm, a Michelin-starred restaurant; a city-view rooftop bar and a cool midcentury-modern design. The backyard pool lined with retro sun loungers and graffitied walls is our favorite place for a drink. 

The former factory turned Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg claims an industrial style with original cast-iron columns, salvaged timber ceilings and cement floors. Don’t miss Reynard’s farm-to-table fare or the sprawling Manhattan vistas from Ides, the rooftop bar.

Queens is catching up to Brooklyn in coolness thanks in part to Long Island City’s Z NYC Hotel, where there’s monthly yoga, a rooftop terrace that hosts weekly summer concerts and a rotating art collection displaying works by prominent and up-and-coming local artists.

In Long Island City, the Ravel Hotel proves that there can never be too many rooftop terraces, especially when they feature panoramic Manhattan vistas, a fire pit and a sprawling bar. Views from the sleek, high-ceilinged rooms aren’t bad, either.

In Brooklyn’s charming Boerum Hill enclave, Nu Hotel is full of hipster-approved quirks, from the hallways plastered with quotes from famous Brooklynites such as Spike Lee and Henry Miller to the custom-designed hammocks swinging from the ceiling in the suites.


       
Bliss out in the Spa at Mandarin Oriental.        

HOTEL SPAS: NYC’s got you all stressed out? Get thee to one of these hotel spas.

The Plaza Hotel’s winecentric Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa couldn’t be more removed from the bustle of the city than if it was located among the vines of a Bordeaux winery. Soak in a barrel bath infused with red-vine and crushed-grape extracts before a dry body Merlot scrub. Post-treatment, relax with—what else?—a glass of vino.

The ingredients are no less refined at the The Surrey’s posh Cornelia Spa, where Champagne, French sea salts and artisanal honey make for soothing (and we suspect rather tasty) body treatments.

The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park’s La Prairie Spa may offer the most over-the-top experience you can have on a massage table, with treatments that incorporate elements of pearls, diamonds, gold and, of course, caviar. ritzcarlton.com

For something different, skip the usual (and, yes, pricey) treatments at The Spa at Trump Soho in favor of the 45-minute bathing ritual, which takes place in the hotel’s Turkish hammam filled with marble and sparkling mosaics.

While Chinatown has no shortage of basement back-rub joints, the Asian-inspired Spa at Mandarin Oriental is the real deal, with treatments such as the Oriental Harmony, which was developed by traditional Chinese medicine specialists.


GRAND DAMES: For generations, these hosteleries have set the bar for service and elegance.

The Carlyle: No other hotel captures the throwback—and yet deliciously current—glamour of NYC more than this fabled Upper East Side hotel. Enter from Madison Avenue and step into a dramatic, black-and-white lobby originally crafted by the legendary designer Dorothy Draper. Settle in for a spicy pineapple margarita and nightly jazz at the clubby Bemelmans Bar with its walls painted by Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans. There’s the stunning Café Carlyle, too, where Eartha Kitt once held court.

The St. Regis New York: Walking into the gilded lobby of this Beaux Arts landmark building is like stepping back in time. But the historic hotel recently completed a $90 million renovation that plants its service and style firmly in the 21st century. Butlers have traded their old-school tailcoats for Armani-inspired suits, and the 238 rooms now feature a mix of classic and contemporary furniture. After a day of shopping, go for a cocktail at the hotel’s King Cole Bar and Salon, where the bloody mary was invented 80 years ago.

The Plaza HotelManhattan’s most famous hotel has hosted some of the biggest names in history, from the Beatles to Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant, who were on-site during the shooting of North by Northwest. The hotel offers 24-hour butler service, the global flavors of the Todd English Food Hall and a Betsey Johnson-designed Eloise Suite.

The New York PalaceConstructed around the former 19th-century home and courtyard of railroad financier Henry Villard, this gleaming tower is indeed palatial, with 909 rooms and four 5,000-square-foot triplex suites. The carefully restored Villard estate now houses a restaurant by Michel Richard and a salon-style bar.

Waldorf Astoria: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor kept a suite here, and every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover has stayed here. The Waldorf was even a favorite of Marilyn Monroe. The sprawling art deco masterpiece on Park Avenue includes the massive main hotel as well as the more intimate, exclusive Towers of the Waldorf Astoria. Expect a grand, theatrical lobby and sophisticated, traditionally styled rooms.

 

       
A view of the glass-skinned 1 World Trade Center from the Living Room Bar & Terrace at the W New York Downtown.        

SKY'S THE LIMIT: Hold on to your drink! The views at these rooftop bars are intoxicating.

Refinery Rooftop: Heart-stopping views of the Empire State Building dominate the scene at this 3,500-square-foot terrace at the new Refinery Hotel. A retractable roof seals the deal.

La Piscine: Once you’ve arrived at the top of West Chelsea’s Hôtel Americano, mezcal cocktails and live music rival the Manhattan skyline scenery.

Le Bain: The Standard’s guests have priority access at this hip rooftop nightclub, where the waiting list is as long as your leg.

Upstairs: This lounge above Midtown’s Kimberly Hotel parties on all year with heated wood floors and a retractable glass ceiling.

Gerber Group’s The RoofManhattan’s latest rooftop bar, just open at the new Viceroy New York, promises a sophisticated scene with plenty of scenery.

Living Room Bar & Terrace: While not technically on the roof, this fifth-floor hangout at the W New York Downtown has amazing views of the new 1 World Trade Center.

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