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The 18 Essential New York City Hotels, November 2014

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It seems like a new hotel opens every week in New York City—by the end of the year, there will be some 90,000 hotel rooms here—which makes it an exceedingly difficult and rather overwhelming task to answer the question, "Where should I stay in New York City?" Curbed's guide of need-to-know hotels seeks to solve this conundrum, with a list of the city's 18 most iconic, essential hotels. This iteration of the Hotel 18 aims to balance the collection of age-old classics (like the famed Plaza and Waldorf Astoria), with a couple newbies (welcome to the club, Viceroy New York) and affordable, but not generic, options (sorry, no Gene Kaufman or Sam Chang creations here). Eligible hotels have been open for at least one year. We're constantly seeking input for future revisions, so let us know in the comments or on the tipline if you disagree with the list.


· Hotel 18 archives [Curbed]

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1. The Peninsula New York

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700 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 956-2888
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In its early days, 1905-built Gotham Hotel was overshadowed by the Plaza to its north and the St. Regis across the street. It failed largely due to its inability to get a liquor license, but the Italian Renaissance architecture remains. Fast forward to 1988, when it was bought up by the Hong Kong-based Peninsula group; to 1999, when it reopened after a gut renovation; and then to the present, when the property boasts 185 guest rooms, 54 suites, and a pretty sterling reputation. Oh, and a bespoke BMW is the house car.

2. The Plaza

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768 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 759-3000
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Condo drama aside, the landmarked Plaza remains iconic in the NYC hotel world. The hotel, designed by the Dakota's Henry Janeway Hardenbegh, opened in October 1907 after a $12 million, two-year construction process. At the time, rooms cost $2.50/night. (Today, they cost just a bit more.) Movie appearances include North by Northwest, The Great Gatsby, and Home Alone II—and, of course, the hotel has a long-standing association with Eloise.

3. Ace Hotel New York

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20 W 29th St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 679-2222
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The Ace Hotel is one of the newish crop of hotels that sprang up in its neighborhood, whether that neighborhood is WhoDi, NoMad, or the Canal Street of Midtown. It's also one of the more affordable hotels on this list, with a lobby beloved by the city's startup kids.

4. Library Hotel

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299 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10017
(212) 983-4500
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After its initial inclusion in last summer's Hotel 38, the Library Hotel has made the cut again due to its overwhelmingly positive guest reviews. One of a number of themed hotels in the city, design of the Library Hotel is inspired by the Dewey Decimal system, with each floor (of 10) devoted to one Dewey category. Nor is that the limit of the book theme—each room is decorated in an on-topic way, via one of the collections within the category. The room pictured, for example, contains a shelf full of fairy tales, and the pillow reads "Book Lovers Never Go To Bed Alone." There's an ancient languages room on the fourth floor and a dinosaurs room on floor five, the math and science floor. Naturally, the 14th floor's Bookmarks Lounge has book-themed cocktails.

5. The New York Palace Hotel

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455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 888-7000
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The Palace Hotel—yes, the one from Gossip Girl, and it's had cameos on 30 Rock and Law & Order, too—just completed a renovation of all 900 of its rooms. The hotel actually began as a private residence, designed by McKim, Mead & White for Henry Villard and built in 1882. That original residence now contains the hotel's Villard Ballroom.

6. The NoMad Hotel

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1170 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
(212) 796-1500
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The NoMad has a completely different feel from the nearby Ace—the NoMad's aesthetic leans more toward the European, with Paris-inspired interiors by Jacques Garcia featuring clawfoot bathtubs and reclaimed maple floors. The individual rooms range from standard to apartment-esque—the Suite Royale is an 1,800-square-foot space with a private terrace.

7. Mercer Hotel

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147 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-6060
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The Mercer is the sister hotel to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, so, naturally, it's pricey and popular with celebrities. (The lobby is always a place to spot power players.) William Schickel designed the 1890 building—a Romanesque Revival landmark—as offices for the Astor family; before it became a hotel, it housed artists' lofts. The 75 hotel rooms and suites were designed by Christian Liaigre, and the hotel is part of the Andre Balazs empire.

8. The St. Regis New York

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2 E 55th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 753-4500
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The 110-year-old Beaux Arts hotel, founded by Titanic victim John Jacob Astor IV—one of the wealthiest people in the country at the time—as a counterpart to another li'l property that he owned, the Waldorf, is named for a lake in the Adirondacks, which got its own moniker for a monk allegedly famous for showing hospitality to travelers. Salvador Dali, William Paley and Marlene Dietrich rested their heads there; its King Cole Bar is also the birthplace of the Bloody Mary.

9. Waldorf Astoria New York

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301 Park Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 355-3000
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The hotel, an Art Deco landmark, was designed by Schultze and Weaver and takes up the full block between 49th and 50th streets and Park and Lexington avenues. Fun fact: the hotel was the first to ever offer room service. It also contains some of the city's most expensive rentals within Waldorf Towers, a separate division of the hotel located on its upper floors, and a secret subway platform underneath the hotel where dignitaries could access the building without being seen. The hotel recently sold to Anbang Insurance Group Co. for a whopping $1.95 billion, and the new owner is planning a "major renovation."

10. SoHo Grand Hotel

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310 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 965-3000
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A hospitality pioneer in its neighborhood, the 352-room Soho Grand's past-meets-present design is meant to intertwine the historic grandeur of the 1870s with the more mod stylings of the 1970s. It's also pet-friendly, with sculptures of canines throughout, and earlier this year the hotel debuted a dedicated dog run overhung by twinkle lights, "complete with fire hydrant water stations, bespoke benches, and design by gardener-to-the-stars Rebecca Cole."

11. The Bowery Hotel

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335 Bowery
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-9100
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Here's another neighborhood gamechanger. A poster child for the evolution of the Bowery, the hotel combines a few common New York City design elements like "industrial styled windows" and loft-inspired layouts with a well-known event space for up to 600. Guests might end up downstairs from a film premiere or photo shoot.

12. The Jane Hotel

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113 Jane St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-6700
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Bowery Hotel co-owner Sean MacPherson is also the hotelier behind The Jane, which has the Bowery Hotel beat when it comes to historic character. The Jane building was built by Ellis Island station architect William A. Boring in 1908, hosted Titanic survivors in 1912, and was a YMCA in 1944. Some of the rooms are "Bunk Bed Cabins," with bunk beds and shared hallway bathrooms—but at least the bunk beds have 300 thread count sheets. The Jane was pushed off this list in the last two iterations, but its solid reputation as a go-to locale for trendy events can't be denied. Plus, it's one of the few Downtown boutique hotels that offer more affordable rates, since it offers European-style rooms with shared bathrooms.

13. The Standard, High Line

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848 Washington St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-4646
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Hotel guests' peep shows have generated some headlines, but The Standard also has things to offer to the non-nudity-inclined. The building straddles the High Line, for one thing, and contains an ice rink and rooftop bar. There's always fun public art.

14. Crosby Street Hotel

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79 Crosby St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 226-6400
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The Crosby Street Hotel, the first U.S. outpost from UK-based Firmdale Hotels, is priced at a level that befits its frequent famous guests—Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, and Julianna Margulies are just a few of the recent celebrity guests . One reason those guests come to the Crosby: the 99-seat movie theater downstairs, which often hosts screenings. The hotel opened four years ago, and it's popularity has not wavered. Just last month, a hospitality expert called the Crosby "a lightning rod" for travelers.

15. Gramercy Park Hotel

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2 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 920-3300
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An incredible roster of famous people have swept through the Gramercy Park Hotel, which opened in 1925. Humphrey Bogart got married on the rooftop terrace! The Rolling Stones and U2 are among the many musicians who've stayed there. These days, with art collector Aby Rosen at the helm, the hotel's look is artsy and includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol. Julian Schnabel redesigned the hotel (which also has Gramercy Park views, as the name suggests) several years ago. Off the lobby is Danny Meyer restaurant Maialino.

16. Wythe Hotel

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80 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(718) 460-8000
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The Wythe, the only Brooklyn hotel on this list, opened in May of 2012 and boasts design by Morris Adjmi of a converted 1901 factory. The 70 rooms once included spaces specifically for bands, sleeping four to six, and standard rooms named for their sizes and views. There's no room service, but the beds are made from the building's own reclaimed ceilings.

17. Viceroy New York

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120 W 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 830-8000
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From the facade to the door hinges, husband-and-wife design team Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer of Roman and Williams created every aspect of the 240-room Viceroy hotel on 57th Street, which is the newest hotel on this list. The 30-story hotel celebrated its one-year anniversary in October, and its luxe, high-design easily puts it among the best new hotels in the city. The aesthetic combines Roman and Williams' signature rich and rugged style with custom made Art Deco-esque furniture to create a space reminiscent of old New York. The lobby has a library, and all rooms are stocked with books about New York City. Small details like an elevated mini-bar, built into the wall unit that holds the bed, and porthole windows in some showers set the hotel apart.

18. Pod 39 Hotel

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145 E 39th St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 865-5700
Visit Website

Pod 39 is a newer addition to the hotel scene, having opened two years ago, but it made the cut thanks to its status as a vanguard of the efficiency/mirco-living trend and for delivering impeccable rooms at affordable prices. As the name implies, the hotel features smaller rooms, but don't let that dissuade you. The spaces are thoughtfully designed for maximum functionality, and the hotel offers all the high-tech bells and whistles that young travelers crave, like an extensive media center and wireless audio streaming. The lovely rooftop bar is popular with travelers and locals, and it houses an outpost of Salvation Taco, a taqueria by renowned chef April Bloomfield.

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1. The Peninsula New York

700 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

In its early days, 1905-built Gotham Hotel was overshadowed by the Plaza to its north and the St. Regis across the street. It failed largely due to its inability to get a liquor license, but the Italian Renaissance architecture remains. Fast forward to 1988, when it was bought up by the Hong Kong-based Peninsula group; to 1999, when it reopened after a gut renovation; and then to the present, when the property boasts 185 guest rooms, 54 suites, and a pretty sterling reputation. Oh, and a bespoke BMW is the house car.

700 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019

2. The Plaza

768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Condo drama aside, the landmarked Plaza remains iconic in the NYC hotel world. The hotel, designed by the Dakota's Henry Janeway Hardenbegh, opened in October 1907 after a $12 million, two-year construction process. At the time, rooms cost $2.50/night. (Today, they cost just a bit more.) Movie appearances include North by Northwest, The Great Gatsby, and Home Alone II—and, of course, the hotel has a long-standing association with Eloise.

768 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019

3. Ace Hotel New York

20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

The Ace Hotel is one of the newish crop of hotels that sprang up in its neighborhood, whether that neighborhood is WhoDi, NoMad, or the Canal Street of Midtown. It's also one of the more affordable hotels on this list, with a lobby beloved by the city's startup kids.

20 W 29th St
New York, NY 10001

4. Library Hotel

299 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10017

After its initial inclusion in last summer's Hotel 38, the Library Hotel has made the cut again due to its overwhelmingly positive guest reviews. One of a number of themed hotels in the city, design of the Library Hotel is inspired by the Dewey Decimal system, with each floor (of 10) devoted to one Dewey category. Nor is that the limit of the book theme—each room is decorated in an on-topic way, via one of the collections within the category. The room pictured, for example, contains a shelf full of fairy tales, and the pillow reads "Book Lovers Never Go To Bed Alone." There's an ancient languages room on the fourth floor and a dinosaurs room on floor five, the math and science floor. Naturally, the 14th floor's Bookmarks Lounge has book-themed cocktails.

299 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10017

5. The New York Palace Hotel

455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

The Palace Hotel—yes, the one from Gossip Girl, and it's had cameos on 30 Rock and Law & Order, too—just completed a renovation of all 900 of its rooms. The hotel actually began as a private residence, designed by McKim, Mead & White for Henry Villard and built in 1882. That original residence now contains the hotel's Villard Ballroom.

455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022

6. The NoMad Hotel

1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

The NoMad has a completely different feel from the nearby Ace—the NoMad's aesthetic leans more toward the European, with Paris-inspired interiors by Jacques Garcia featuring clawfoot bathtubs and reclaimed maple floors. The individual rooms range from standard to apartment-esque—the Suite Royale is an 1,800-square-foot space with a private terrace.

1170 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

7. Mercer Hotel

147 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

The Mercer is the sister hotel to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, so, naturally, it's pricey and popular with celebrities. (The lobby is always a place to spot power players.) William Schickel designed the 1890 building—a Romanesque Revival landmark—as offices for the Astor family; before it became a hotel, it housed artists' lofts. The 75 hotel rooms and suites were designed by Christian Liaigre, and the hotel is part of the Andre Balazs empire.

147 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012

8. The St. Regis New York

2 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

The 110-year-old Beaux Arts hotel, founded by Titanic victim John Jacob Astor IV—one of the wealthiest people in the country at the time—as a counterpart to another li'l property that he owned, the Waldorf, is named for a lake in the Adirondacks, which got its own moniker for a monk allegedly famous for showing hospitality to travelers. Salvador Dali, William Paley and Marlene Dietrich rested their heads there; its King Cole Bar is also the birthplace of the Bloody Mary.

2 E 55th St
New York, NY 10022

9. Waldorf Astoria New York

301 Park Ave, New York, NY 10022

The hotel, an Art Deco landmark, was designed by Schultze and Weaver and takes up the full block between 49th and 50th streets and Park and Lexington avenues. Fun fact: the hotel was the first to ever offer room service. It also contains some of the city's most expensive rentals within Waldorf Towers, a separate division of the hotel located on its upper floors, and a secret subway platform underneath the hotel where dignitaries could access the building without being seen. The hotel recently sold to Anbang Insurance Group Co. for a whopping $1.95 billion, and the new owner is planning a "major renovation."

301 Park Ave
New York, NY 10022

10. SoHo Grand Hotel

310 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

A hospitality pioneer in its neighborhood, the 352-room Soho Grand's past-meets-present design is meant to intertwine the historic grandeur of the 1870s with the more mod stylings of the 1970s. It's also pet-friendly, with sculptures of canines throughout, and earlier this year the hotel debuted a dedicated dog run overhung by twinkle lights, "complete with fire hydrant water stations, bespoke benches, and design by gardener-to-the-stars Rebecca Cole."

310 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

11. The Bowery Hotel

335 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

Here's another neighborhood gamechanger. A poster child for the evolution of the Bowery, the hotel combines a few common New York City design elements like "industrial styled windows" and loft-inspired layouts with a well-known event space for up to 600. Guests might end up downstairs from a film premiere or photo shoot.

335 Bowery
New York, NY 10003

12. The Jane Hotel

113 Jane St, New York, NY 10014

Bowery Hotel co-owner Sean MacPherson is also the hotelier behind The Jane, which has the Bowery Hotel beat when it comes to historic character. The Jane building was built by Ellis Island station architect William A. Boring in 1908, hosted Titanic survivors in 1912, and was a YMCA in 1944. Some of the rooms are "Bunk Bed Cabins," with bunk beds and shared hallway bathrooms—but at least the bunk beds have 300 thread count sheets. The Jane was pushed off this list in the last two iterations, but its solid reputation as a go-to locale for trendy events can't be denied. Plus, it's one of the few Downtown boutique hotels that offer more affordable rates, since it offers European-style rooms with shared bathrooms.

113 Jane St
New York, NY 10014

13. The Standard, High Line

848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

Hotel guests' peep shows have generated some headlines, but The Standard also has things to offer to the non-nudity-inclined. The building straddles the High Line, for one thing, and contains an ice rink and rooftop bar. There's always fun public art.

848 Washington St
New York, NY 10014

14. Crosby Street Hotel

79 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012

The Crosby Street Hotel, the first U.S. outpost from UK-based Firmdale Hotels, is priced at a level that befits its frequent famous guests—Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, and Julianna Margulies are just a few of the recent celebrity guests . One reason those guests come to the Crosby: the 99-seat movie theater downstairs, which often hosts screenings. The hotel opened four years ago, and it's popularity has not wavered. Just last month, a hospitality expert called the Crosby "a lightning rod" for travelers.

79 Crosby St
New York, NY 10012

15. Gramercy Park Hotel

2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010

An incredible roster of famous people have swept through the Gramercy Park Hotel, which opened in 1925. Humphrey Bogart got married on the rooftop terrace! The Rolling Stones and U2 are among the many musicians who've stayed there. These days, with art collector Aby Rosen at the helm, the hotel's look is artsy and includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol. Julian Schnabel redesigned the hotel (which also has Gramercy Park views, as the name suggests) several years ago. Off the lobby is Danny Meyer restaurant Maialino.

2 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10010

16. Wythe Hotel

80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249

The Wythe, the only Brooklyn hotel on this list, opened in May of 2012 and boasts design by Morris Adjmi of a converted 1901 factory. The 70 rooms once included spaces specifically for bands, sleeping four to six, and standard rooms named for their sizes and views. There's no room service, but the beds are made from the building's own reclaimed ceilings.

80 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249

17. Viceroy New York

120 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

From the facade to the door hinges, husband-and-wife design team Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer of Roman and Williams created every aspect of the 240-room Viceroy hotel on 57th Street, which is the newest hotel on this list. The 30-story hotel celebrated its one-year anniversary in October, and its luxe, high-design easily puts it among the best new hotels in the city. The aesthetic combines Roman and Williams' signature rich and rugged style with custom made Art Deco-esque furniture to create a space reminiscent of old New York. The lobby has a library, and all rooms are stocked with books about New York City. Small details like an elevated mini-bar, built into the wall unit that holds the bed, and porthole windows in some showers set the hotel apart.

120 W 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

18. Pod 39 Hotel

145 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016

Pod 39 is a newer addition to the hotel scene, having opened two years ago, but it made the cut thanks to its status as a vanguard of the efficiency/mirco-living trend and for delivering impeccable rooms at affordable prices. As the name implies, the hotel features smaller rooms, but don't let that dissuade you. The spaces are thoughtfully designed for maximum functionality, and the hotel offers all the high-tech bells and whistles that young travelers crave, like an extensive media center and wireless audio streaming. The lovely rooftop bar is popular with travelers and locals, and it houses an outpost of Salvation Taco, a taqueria by renowned chef April Bloomfield.

145 E 39th St
New York, NY 10016