New York may be the city that never sleeps but when you’re paying top dollar for a hotel room, you’re going to want some quality shuteye. Fortunately the luxury hotels in Manhattan are among the best in the world, offering the finest interiors from renowned designers, chic in-room amenities, attentive service, and glorious city views (which is often the number one selling point for a hotel).
As a hotel-obsessed journalist and travel specialist who has closely chronicled New York’s whirlwind hotel scene for more than a decade (I also grew up just 30 minutes outside of the city), I can confidently say the luxury lodging options here continue to be better than ever. Yet not so surprisingly, in a city that reveres institutions, some of the best hotels are the ones that have always been there – they’ve just been tweaked a touch.
Best for scene: New York Edition
The sexy Edition brand, created by Studio 54 legend-turned-boutique-hotelier Ian Schrager in partnership with Marriott Hotels, caters to sophisticated travellers who are after high design and exciting nightlife, rolled up in five-star service. The New York outpost delivers on all of that.
In Madison Square Park’s Clocktower Building, a Beaux-Arts landmark dating back to 1909, the 273 rooms (designed by The Rockwell Group) feature a minimalist layout with neutral-coloured furniture and fabrics, save for the oak-panelled foyers, walnut headboards and faux fur throws on the bed. Some rooms have original scalloped ceilings while others have Instagram-perfect views of the Empire State Building.
Downstairs, the Lobby Bar with its sultry backlit shelves of liquor, is a beacon for NYC’s prettiest people. Up a winding helix-shaped staircase is the Clocktower Restaurant where chef Jason Atherton serves contemporary British cuisine in three separate dining rooms, each with a different theme, and all adorned with giant photos of NYC’s famous denizens. The best room to book is a Loft Studio Suite which are typically corner rooms with views up Madison Avenue and west across the park.
Doubles from $465 (£337), room only
Best for design inspiration: The Crosby Street Hotel
The thoroughly British Firmdale Hotels first crossed the pond in 2009 to open the Crosby Street Hotel in Soho (their second NYC hotel, The Whitby, opened in 2017). Almost a decade later, the hotel, which sits off Soho’s main shopping thoroughfare, still feels like a fresh face, thanks in part to Firmdale’s design director Kit Kemp and her never-boring mix of patterns and prints. Each of the 86 rooms has floor-to-ceiling windows letting in natural light, charming fabric-covered headboards and original artwork.
Splurging for a deluxe one-bedroom suite on the upper floors will get you not just more space and more design elements to copy for your own home, but also jaw-dropping views of downtown. The Crosby Bar is a cosy place to take in a meal or afternoon tea (especially during the winter months) while the back patio during spring and summer is an idyllic respite from the city hustle.
Doubles from $695 (£503), room only
Best for artists: The Mercer
One of the original boutique hotels in Soho, The Mercer has retained its exclusive je nai se quoi even after 20 years. Part of that has to do with the air of mystery the hotel cultivates; the other part of it no doubt comes from the repeat celebrity guests (this is the sister hotel to Hollywood’s infamous Chateau Marmont; Kanye has stayed here while recording his albums). The rooms are unabashedly tiny, starting at a minuscule 250sq ft, but most have high ceilings, and you’re paying for the excellent location on a cobble-stoned street on the corner of Mercer and Prince, with luxury shops and art galleries stacked all around.
Studio rooms and suites give a bit more wiggle room, as well as better views and oversized bathtubs. The Mercer Kitchen, a two-storey restaurant serving food from ubiquitous hotel chef Jean-George Vongerichten, is after all these years, still a place to see and be seen.
Doubles from $544 (£394), room only
Best for families: The Surrey
Parents who don’t want to sacrifice style or comfort when travelling with children will find just what they need at The Surrey on the Upper East Side. One block from Central Park and its popular Alice in Wonderland bronze statue, the hotel’s 190 elegant rooms feature a mix of king, queen and twin beds, the latter being a rare commodity in New York, but essential for families.
Luxurious amenities include Duxiana beds, Sferra linens, Pratesi bathrobes, a pillow menu, delightful window seats, and an in-room mixology cart (although that’s hands-off for the kids). The hotel is also known to hand out special frog backpacks to their little guests, which are filled with snacks and activity suggestions for the area.
At night, parents who’ve arranged a babysitter can indulge in French cuisine from Daniel Boulud’s casual-ish Boulud Café or linger over cocktails at the Art Deco-inspired Bar Pleiades.
Doubles from $745 (£540), room only
Best for privacy: NoMad Hotel
Meant to be a fresh take on the grand European hotels of yore, the NoMad sometimes feels as if it’s from another century entirely, or at least from a time before we were all obsessed with handheld devices. French designer Jacques Garcia lent his simple yet classical vision to the an original Beaux-Arts building north of Madison Square Park (hence the name.) Custom furniture, such as clawfoot bathtubs, Heriz rugs, French writing desks and deep leather club chairs, give each of the 168 rooms an individual – and residential – feel, while modern amenities like a flat-screen TV and fast WiFi give guests the comforts of their ultra-connected lives.
On the ground floor is The Parlour dining room, two bars, and a library stocked with actual books. Yet with its high ceilings, dim lighting and velvet curtains, the hotel’s public spaces make is easy for almost anyone to disappear.
Doubles from $435 (£315), room only
Best for power players: Park Hyatt New York
The Park Hyatt New York, located in Midtown across from Carnegie Hall and a block from Central Park, wowed even the most jaded of hotel observers when it opened in 2014, largely because of its gorgeous rooms (designed by Yabu Pushelberg) and its distinctive ribbon facade architecture (envisioned by Christian doe Portzamparc.) Yet this being Park Hyatt, Hyatt’s top-tier luxury brand, the high-end touches don’t stop there. A personal attendant will greet guests at the entrance and whisk them up to the second floor lounge to do the check-in process.
The 210 guest rooms and suites start at a spacious 500sq ft, and have both rainfall showers and deep-soaking tubs as well Rivolta Carmignani linens, the use of iPad minis and Nespresso machines. A treatment room at the hotel’s Spa Nalai will most likely overlook Central Park while views of the Hudson River can be glimpsed from the spa’s reception area. Guests who opt to do laps in the large indoor swimming pool will be treated to music from Carnegie Hall via underwater speakers.
Doubles from $875 (£634), room only
Best for movie stars: The Greenwich Hotel
In the heart of Tribeca, the Greenwich has a bona fide film star pedigree – one of its owners is none other than Robert De Niro. Yet the hotel’s luxury digs and service would hold up regardless of that Hollywood connection. Each of the 88 rooms and suites are styled differently yet all retain an old-world charm with a hodgepodge of cultural influences from Tibetan silk rugs to Moroccan tiles and “English leather settees.” The beds are Duxiana, the bathtubs are deep-soaking and the minibar snacks, bottled water and soft drinks are complimentary. Beneath the lobby is the exclusive Japanese-Inspired Shibui Spa and sultry indoor pool, while back upstairs, Locanda Verde from popular chef Andrew Carmelllini, serves hearty Italian food at its finest (the sheep’s milk ricotta crostini is a must).
Doubles from $625 (£453), room only
Best for pampering: St. Regis New York
If your only wish is not to lift a finger during your visit to New York, look no further than the St Regis on Fifth Avenue at 55th Street. Every room here comes with the service of a dedicated maitre d’étages – butler to you and me. Guests can also be ferried about town in a Bentley within a 10-block radius of the hotel. Inside the recently renovated rooms are silk wall coverings, crystal chandeliers, fancy writing desks and some state-of-the-art technology such as Bose sound systems and fast internet. Downstairs, a Bloody Mary will be expertly mixed at the King Cole bar, the birthplace of the spicy hangover cure, while a proper meal can be had in the Astor Court, named after NYC’s own John Jacob Astor IV who founded the luxury St. Regis brand more than 100 years ago.
Doubles from $1,020 (£739), room only
Best for Instagram: Baccarat New York
Nearly every turn at this luxury hotel, inspired by the 253-year-old French crystal brand, is worthy of an Instagram post. At the street-level entrance, across from the Museum of Modern Art, there’s a wall adorned with 1,800 Baccarat “Harcourt” stemware, all lit up by LED lights in the shape of the Baccarat “B.” Upstairs in the Grand Salon, just beyond check-in, is a delicate 64-armed chandelier that hangs over an assortment of high-backed banquettes and mirrored tables, all topped off with some form of Baccarat crystal.
Indeed, there are nearly 15,000 pieces of Baccarat stemware found throughout the hotel, along with other crystal fixtures which usually retail for over $1,000 a piece.
In the rooms, the glamour continues in champagne-tinged colours with luxurious finishes like white marble surfaces and red-lacquer mini bars. But the piece de resistance is the “Champagne” button on the in-room telephone, which allows a guest to have their favourite bubbly delivered to their room.
Doubles from $988 (£716), room only
Best for wellness: The Mark
A revered hotel among the fashion elite (most bold-type names attending the Met Gala stay here), The Mark is an Upper East Side haven, well-known for its subtle luxury. Rooms are tastefully done in a subdued residential style, while its lobby goes for drama, thanks to its signature black and white maze floor pattern.
Now The Mark is putting a luxury twist on wellness. Guests booking the new Wellness package will receive a custom Mark Hotel yoga mat with matching ea.r buds, a facial treatment, a personal training session with Dan Flores or a private yoga class, as well as fresh juice and vegan muffins at check-in from the hotel’s Jean-Georges Vongericten restaurant. After all that working out and heavy wellness concentration, guests can then hire one of The Mark’s chic black and white pedi-cabs to take them sightseeing.
Doubles from $725 (£523), room only
Best for art lovers: The Langham New York
The Langham has occupied a sweet spot on Fifth Avenue near Herald Square and Bryant Park for nearly a decade – with views of the Empire State Building at every turn – but it was just in the last year that the luxury hotel received a brand-new look, putting it on par with the brand’s flagship property in London. The 234 guest rooms are sophisticated yet unfussy, with Italian walnut finishes, marble bathrooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows. The Langham also has a varied selection of room types, some with kitchenettes, making it an ideal choice for families and guests on longer trips. For art lovers, the only room to book is the presidential suite designed by French interior design retailer, Roche Bobois, and adorned with colourful paintings from Alex Katz. Winding down after a long day of hitting the pavement is easy to do here too, thanks to the Langham’s Chuan Body + Soul wellness centre which offers traditional Chinese massages and decadent facials.
Doubles from $545, room only
Best for Wolves of Wall Street: Four Seasons Downtown New York
People have made money moves on Wall Street for decades, but the financial district was suffering from a dearth of luxury hotels – until the arrival of the Four Seasons in 2016. The unapologetically modern hotel designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern has 161 guest rooms, a whopping 28 suites, and an additional 157 residences attached with eye-catching interiors by top-notch interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg. Wolfgang Puck has opened an outpost of his famous CUT Steakhouse and lounge on the ground floor of the hotel with a seductive vibe cultivated by designer Jacques Garcia. The guestrooms are more grounded in style with neutral colors and all the luxury comforts well-heeled guests expect, such as plush bedding, 55” inch television screens, Nespresso machines and gourmet minibars. Should the rat race get to be too much, head to The Spa and consult with one of the three resident healers who can curate mindful experiences for you, from acupuncture work to meditation.
Doubles from $600, room only
Best for Central Park and Hudson River views: Mandarin Oriental
Situated in Columbus Circle in the soaring Time Warner Center, the Mandarin Oriental New York is one of the rare hotels in Manhattan that can offer guests either rooms overlooking Central Park or rooms overlooking the Hudson River (park views are slightly more expensive). But no matter where you step in the midtown hotel, jaw-dropping vistas are plentiful. From the moment you check-in on the 35th floor’s Skylobby, to a fine-dining experience at the Asiate restaurant, to drinks at one of the two lounges, views are guaranteed. Even while doing laps in the 75ft-high lap pool or from a treatment table in The Spa.
Doubles from $745, room only
Best for Art Deco decadence: The Carlyle
The Carlyle is not just an Art Deco gem that’s perched on the Upper East side, it’s a New York institution. Originally built in 1930, the 35-storey grande dame retains much of the decor and style of its first decorator, Dorothy Draper, most notably the striking black and white marbled lobby. The elevators still have their own operators (you’ll never have to push a button here) while the guest rooms (69 of them are suites) sport a classic Louis XVI style that’s at once comfortable and elegant. But it’s what happens downstairs that makes The Carlyle so legendary and worthy of its own documentary, “Always at The Carlyle”. The landmark Carlyle Café opened in 1955 and has been host to music greats and celebrities such as Judy Collins, Paul McCartney, Bobby Short, Elaine Stritch, Bill Murray and Alan Cumming. At the Bemelmans Bar, named for artist and author Ludwig Bemelman who patronized the bar frequently, children can indulge in a special Madeline Tea during November and December, which includes a sing-a-long and children’s buffet.
Doubles from $625, room only
Best for giant outdoor terraces: The Chatwal
For the Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel from Starwood Hotels, its luxury claim to fame is its 29 specialty suites (dubbed “The Chatwal Crowns”), which have the largest outdoor terraces in the city. But the starting rooms at this Times Square hotel aren’t too shabby either. All rooms have a sleek Art Deco style that befits the hotel’s prime Theater District location, as well as a butler service. Guests also have access to the Red Door Spa by Elizabeth Arden, which features three treatment rooms, a fitness centre with an indoor saltwater pool and a jacuzzi plunge pool. Dining out is made easy too with the well-regarded Lambs Club from “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian. And you’ll get a bit of a history lesson with your meal – The Lambs Club was America’s first theatrical society housed in the very building that now is home to The Chatwal. An 18th century fireplace is on display in the restaurant’s main dining room.
Doubles from $495, room only
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This article has been updated. It was originally published in January 2018.