The iconic hotels of NYC


By Sunshine Flint

Main image courtesy of The Plaza

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June 2017

Whether it’s world-famous hospitality, glittering parties attended by Hollywood’s elite, or the infamous guests and scandalous stories, there are plenty of hotels in New York that deserve icon status. Check out our guide to six of the best.

The Plaza

The lowdown

This grand hotel has elegantly dominated the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South since it opened in 1907. Here, Diamond Jim Brady sipped Champagne, Kennedys and Nixons wed in the ballrooms, Truman Capote hosted his Black and White Ball and movies from The Way We Were and The Great Gatsby to Home Alone were filmed here.

For 35 years Bobby Short performed at the famed Café Carlyle, and Woody Allen and his jazz band perform here weekly

Who’s checked in

Frank Lloyd Wright, Cecil Beaton, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, The Beatles.

What to check out

Have a look around the pink-and-black Eloise shop or sneak a peek at the wood-panelled Oak Room & Bar, scene of Cary Grant’s kidnapping in North by Northwest. Just across the street, Central Park is waiting to be explored. Why not take it easy and hire a bicycle?

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  • Wonder at the opulent Villard interior at the Lotte New York © Press

    A step into the new age

    With a whopping 900 guest rooms and suites on offer, a spa and Pomme Palais serving signature pastries, there’s plenty going for the Lotte New York.

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  • The concierge service at The Carlyle – prefect for info and bookings

    Speedy service

    Until 1957, a pneumatic tube system was used to transport mail between 23 NYC post offices, carrying around 95,000 letters every day.

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  • Toast your visit to New York with a cocktail at The Blue Bar at The Algonquin

    Furry friends

    The Algonquin’s most important resident – besides you – is Matilda the cat. The first ever hotel cat was called Billy and lived at the hotel for 15 years from 1923.

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The Carlyle

The lowdown

A true sophisticated lady on the Upper East Side offering royalty, U.S. presidents and rock stars nearly a century of discreet luxury. For 35 years Bobby Short performed at the famed Café Carlyle, and Woody Allen and his jazz band perform here weekly.

Who’s checked in

John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

What to check out

The murals of Madeline in Central Park hanging in Bemelmans Bar were painted by Ludwig Bemelman (in lieu of payment, he and his family spent a year and a half living at the hotel). Head a few blocks north and take a self-guide tour at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Lotte New York Palace

The lowdown

The heart of this Midtown hotel and tower is the Villard Mansion, designed by famed architects McKim, Mead & White in an ornate, neo-Italian Renaissance style. The opulent salons and drawing rooms have often featured in TV shows such as Gossip Girl and Homeland.

Who’s checked in

Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Katie Holmes.

What to check out

The two-story Gold Room with its gilded wood panelling and ceilings. Head to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for stellar city views, or hop on the TV and Movie Tour.

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The Algonquin Hotel Times Square

The lowdown

Visit the famed Round Table, where New York literary giants, including Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, lunched together daily, cracking wise and exchanging witty remarks. The hotel’s W. 44th Street location is just steps from the original New Yorker offices (set up by Harold Ross after playing a winning hand against other Round Table members) and the Harvard Club.

Who’s checked in

John Barrymore, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, Maya Angelou.

What to check out

The hotel cat, always named Matilda (or Hamlet if it's a male cat), holds sway in the lobby. The Blue Bar opened in 1933 when Prohibition ended and is the perfect spot for a pre or post-theatre drink.

  • Feel at home in the lavish lobby at the EDITION New York © Nikolas Koenig

    Did you know...?

    New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to the world’s oldest surviving piano, dating back to 1720. It was made by Bartolomeo Cristofori – the Italian man credited with inventing the instrument. Fly from London to New York from:£368 return

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New York EDITION

The lowdown

Modern luxury set in the landmark New York Metropolitan Life 41-story clock tower, built in 1909, in the Flatiron District. This is a favourite spot for Fashion Week attendees and the infamous parties.

Who's checked in

Jeremy Scott, Prabal Gurung

What to check out

The plush billiards table and horseshoe bar in chef Jason Atherton’s Clocktower restaurant. Eataly, the Italian food hall, is just across Madison Square Park.

The Standard High Line

The lowdown

This chic hotel sports jet-age architecture and straddles the elevated High Line with wall-to-wall views of the Hudson River, Meatpacking District and the city skyline. Guests have been known to give as good a view as they get from time to time.

Who’s checked in

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Madonna

What to check out

In summer, the astroturfed Le Bain is the hottest of rooftop bars, and in winter, try the ice skating rink in front of the hotel. Visit the neighbouring Whitney Museum or explore New York’s most innovative park on a High Line and Chelsea walking tour.