The city of New York as we know it today — that thriving metropolis of culture, fashion, and business; the city that never sleeps — essentially began at the turn of the century, around the time of the consolidation of the five boroughs. Decades of artistic and cultural history have made this city a diverse mosaic.
While Los Angeles, its opposite in many ways, is also populated by the fabulously wealthy, rich, and famous, New York does not necessarily contain the same dark, hedonistic energy. The urban sprawl of the City of Angels stands in direct contrast to New York and its condensed, bustling allure.
Much of the original architecture from the early days remains standing. Brownstones characterize the warmth and charm of residential New York, while the Flatiron Building and the Chrysler Building scrape the Manhattan skies with majesty and timeless elegance. In 1978, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas published the iconic book Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, which examines architectural trends in the city — a city built for the elite on the backs of blue-collar immigrants.
Even if you are not a New Yorker, the city offers alluring luxury travel experiences for the most steadfast first-class flyer. Indeed, the influence of New York’s boutique hotels on the city’s artistic and aesthetic history cannot be overstated.
When one thinks of the hotel culture in New York, they often — predictably — think of the Chelsea Hotel and its long-term residents during the beat poet generation and long into the 1970s. A variety of notable tragedies occurred onsite; writer Dylan Thomas and rock muse Nancy Spungen both died in the hotel during extended stays in the philosophical and artistic community that existed there.
The Chelsea is historic, certainly, but it is haunted by a certain dark infamy. If you’re the superstitious type, you may wish to avoid checking in to such a place. And the Chelsea is far from the only boutique hotel where you can sleep in the city that never does.
The Bowery Hotel
A quirky space as cool as it is whimsical, the Bowery is located at 335 Bowery, within walking distance of some of the hippest jazz clubs, museums, and fine dining in the East Village. Each room is decorated with bold colours and sleek retro furniture.
A slightly more rustic and relaxed ambience is available downstairs. The Bowery’s ground floor is home to the Gemma, a gourmet Italian trattoria known for its traditional breakfasts, and the Bowery Lobby, which offers an impressive array of seasonal cocktails. Waitstaff prioritize guests of the hotel, providing an intimate and private experience; this has made the Bowery a favourite of celebrities hoping to stay off the grid.
The Lobby is a warm and inviting space, cozy and old-fashioned with vintage iron chandeliers, smooth red leather chairs, crimson carpeting, and a real fireplace. The dimly lit atmosphere, reminiscent of a classic English smoking room, is conducive for long conversation, quiet introspection, or remote working at all hours.
The Ludlow Hotel
The Lower East Side’s coolest new place to stay, the Ludlow can be found at 180 Ludlow St. This elegant hotel’s low-key atmosphere draws travellers seeking a more authentic New York experience. Its team is also aware of how to use social media to great advantage; the Ludlow has partnered with a variety of influencers and gained popularity with the clued-in millennial traveller by a savvy pairing of tradition with modernity.
The Ludlow has a dog-friendly policy, unlike many other similar hotels, and provides a variety of amenities for human and canine guests alike. Sharp and minimalist decor appears in all of the famous loft rooms.
The Ludlow is known for giving Instagrammers serious “bathroom envy,” and the ethereal details of the gold-and-white bathrooms have been immortalized in numerous shots. The Ludlow Double’s luxurious bathtub appears to be a favourite of guests.
Sleek and stylish with a nod to old New York, the Ludlow Lounge features pale exposed brick, golden lighting, and edgy abstract art. Fine dining can be enjoyed at Dirty French, an elegant restaurant with mouth-watering dishes and an enviable wine list. The dessert menu includes French delicacies including beignets and pineapple tarte, just to name a few.
The Marlton Hotel
The Marlton, nestled cozily between 5th and 6th Avenues in bohemian Greenwich Village, emits a warm and welcoming glow. Steps away from Washington Square Park, the Marlton prides itself on providing an upscale yet laidback stay in the heart of the city. What makes it unique is that, despite its prime location, it remains largely unknown; a true hidden gem, it is easy to imagine elite travellers seeking the Marlton for a truly anonymous escape.
Rooms are decorated in a timeless style, with specific attention paid to intricate details; from antique wall lamps to vintage white armoires, the elegant suites of the Marlton resemble bedrooms more than impersonal hotel rooms. For hardened travellers, this is sure to be a refreshing change of pace.
The hotel’s famous Margaux is a restaurant worth checking out even if you won’t be checking in; its menu changes regularly, but has been known to serve delicacies such as artichoke and spring onion fettuccine and English pea risotto.
An espresso bar serving everything from organic coffee to apple cider is a great place to kickstart your New York adventures in the AM, while the rustic cocktail bar is an ideal place to unwind in the evening.
The Roxy Hotel
Tribeca’s best-kept secret, the Roxy is known by its unforgettable catchphrase: “Meet me at the Roxy.” The place to stay if you appreciate the fast pace of the city, this hotel can be found on 6th Avenue — and its penthouse offers one of the most unbelievable panoramic views of lower Manhattan.
Rooms and suites are designed with a wink at the Regency era, but remain firmly modern. Decorators intended to keep the focus on the industrial history of Tribeca, and the striking angles allude to this without sacrificing comfort and warmth. The colour scheme is earthy.
The Roxy pays tribute to New York’s artistic heritage in numerous ways, with the Django jazz club featuring live bands and the famous Roxy Cinema showcasing independent, classic, and foreign films in an Art Deco-styled theatre. Want to hear even more music? Book the Loft Suite, which features smooth hardwood floors and a listening room complete with vintage turntable and curated vinyl collection.