If there’s a question I get asked more than any other, it is, “Where should I stay in New York?” The challenge with choosing where to splash out for some shut-eye in the city that never sleeps is that there’s no shortage of places to rest your head – especially since each district of this dynamic city has its own distinct personality, and discerning travellers can now stray from Manhattan’s thoroughfares in almost any direction.
I’ve been staying in New York hotels for decades – I grew up on the Upper East Side, and visit twice a year to see family – and although that may make me biased, I think forward-thinking NY hotels are some of the best in the world. Having said that, characterless chains abound – and with NYC being one of the most expensive cities around for accommodation, it’s easy to end up with a dud.
So how to sift the wheat from the chaff? Pick a neighbourhood, decide whether you want to stump up for something fancy or if you’re happy to go back to basics, as long as it’s stylish. Here are 10 of my favourite places that combine soul and style, ditch buttoned-up service, and feel steeped in the spirit of this caffeinated city.
The Whitby is close to MoMA, but has many artworks of its own (The Whitby Hotel)
Tim and Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels were smart to create a Midtown sibling (two blocks north of MoMA) for their popular Crosby Street Hotel. Their London-centric design formula may be familiar — a slick 16-floor, 87-room newbuild filled with characterful design — but as in their other hotels, the interiors are a tonic of colour and textures thanks to Kit’s artful imagination (minimalists, steer clear). Specially commissioned witty artworks such as tongue-in-cheek portraits of the Queen and larger than-life-sculptures are scattered throughout the building. A wall glows with artist Martha Freud’s votive ceramics, each etched with different New York landmarks. In the bar, the cocktails are first class — try a tangy Whitby Paloma (Ocho Blanco tequila infused with house-made marmalade, fresh pink grapefruit, lime, agave and soda) – while the leafy Orangery terrace is a blissful retreat from the concrete jungle.
Doubles from $695 (£525), room only
The Inn at Irving Place is like stepping back in time (Inn at Irving Place)
This intimate turn-of-the-century brownstone townhouse is a rare breed of old-fashioned retreat in Gramercy Park. Classic chintzes, Tiffany lamps, Victorian curios…