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Best NYC Hotels Explored: A Personal Journey through ICONIC Stays

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After six years of thrice annual visits to Manhattan, I’ve sampled more than a few hotels; here are some of my favorite hotels in NYC.

With my son living in New York City for the past six years, I’ve had my share of New York visits. I’ve learned that I prefer Newark airport over JFK, and I’ve found that the subway system isn’t nearly as complicated as it might seem. We have our favorite restaurants that we return to again and again, while we also try something new each visit; and when racking up nearly 18,000 steps daily, I can eat to my heart’s content. 

Though the city offers more entertainment, museums, and shopping than anyone could ever desire, I find the greatest joy in simply walking the streets and taking-in the sights. There is an undeniable energy here that inspires, perhaps a result of the quartz that radiates from Manhattan’s bedrock schist. (That’s my theory, anyhow).

My other great New York City joy is experiencing its hotels, the variety of which seems without limit. Over the last several years, I have enjoyed the hospitality and amenities of a number of Manhattan hotels, one of which is just around the corner from my son’s apartment and feels like a second home. While I’ll continue to explore different hotels each successive visit (and I’m sure to find new favorites) these currently top my list for the best hotels in NYC. Here’s why:

Best NYC Hotel, The Bowery

Courtesy of The Bowery Hotel - East Village

The Bowery Hotel – East Village

My home-away-from-home, The Bowery is my enduring favorite. Two blocks from my son’s apartment, this Hollywood and music industry A-list NYC hotel always ensures a good time, whether lounging with cocktails in the dimly-lit, fireplace-warmed lobby during colder months, enjoying al fresco breakfast on the back terrace in summer, or watching from my corner suite the changing colors of the city skyline as the sun sets. 

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The Bowery is the very definition of low-key luxury, offering old world ambience and hospitality that is welcoming, accommodating, and discreet—though the paparazzi often found camped just outside its front doors is a hint that the clientele is…special. 

Comfy beds, plush robes, well-stocked mini bars, and the Bowery Bear provide a welcome greeting after a day of New York City sightseeing. And who doesn’t love The Bowery’s richly tasseled key fobs—made expressly for the hotel in Italy—that hang as functional artwork behind the check-in desk?

Courtesy of The Baccarat Hotel New York - Midtown

Baccarat Hotel New York – Midtown

This gorgeous boutique NYC hotel is devoted to the alluring illumination of its namesake French-made crystal. A prismatic glass façade reflects and refracts light and is a mere suggestion of the wonders within its 50 stories and luxurious guest rooms, each of which resembles a cosmopolitan pied-à-terre. 

The Grand Salon’s 35-foot ceiling and plush, platinum-and-champagne-hued palette create a glamorous backdrop for all-day lounging, while the Petit Salon’s emerald green velvet settees beckon those desiring a private and tranquil retreat.

Courtesy of The Baccarat Hotel New York - Midtown

A must here is The Bar, inspired by the stables at Château de Versailles, where a one-of-a-kind art collection spans important aesthetic movements since 1764, the year of Baccarat’s founding. Crimson velvets, dark leathers, and a black-and-white checked floor set a daring and slightly seductive scene for after-work, after-dinner, or late-night cocktails. For self-care, look to the hotel’s subterranean Spa de la Mer (the first in the United States) where the coveted La Mer brand comes to life.

Courtesy of Loews Regency New York - Upper East Side

Loews Regency New York – Upper East Side

This ICONIC NYC hotel has defined Park Avenue hospitality since the moment it opened its doors in 1963. With Central Park within arm’s reach, Madison Avenue shopping a block away, and some of New York’s most stylish domestic addresses as neighbors, Loews Regency New York promotes a residential vibe, providing guests a true New York City experience. 

Courtesy of Loews Regency New York - Upper East Side

As ideal for families as it is for the business people who fill its art deco-themed guest rooms, the hotel features a number of spacious suites in varying sizes and layouts, several with kitchenettes. 

Furthering the classic New York ambience is the hotel’s famed The Regency Bar & Grill, an ideal spot for evening aperitif, and still the pinnacle location for the New York ‘power breakfast,’ a concept introduced in 1975 during New York City’s financial crisis when leaders from the public and private sectors met here to discuss the city’s recovery. 

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown - Tribeca

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown – Tribeca

This hotel is steps away from newer New York City landmark icons such as The Oculus and One World Trade Center, as well as some of New York’s tried and true destination favorites including Trinity Church, Battery Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Favored equally by those in town for business, by tourists, and by the occasional professional athlete, the hotel provides an exceedingly gracious homebase for New York exploration. Located within the first 24 of 82 floors in one of Manhattan’s tallest residential towers, the hotel’s spacious guest rooms and posh specialty suites feature the signature plush and silky Four Seasons Bed (alone worthy of a reservation), large bathrooms, and deluxe mini-bars. 

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Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown - Tribeca

A 75-foot long indoor heated lap pool (the largest in Manhattan) is another reason to book a stay, as is the WhistlePig Smoked Old Fashioned found at in-house restaurant CUT by Wolfgang Puck.

Best NYC Hotels, The Carlyle

Courtesy of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel - Upper East Side

The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel – Upper East Side

Full disclosure; I’ve not spent the night here, but I recently fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream of enjoying a crafted cocktail at the NYC hotel’s Bemelmans Bar. 

This legendary watering hole, featuring masterpiece murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books, draws a stylish cross section of society, from venerable Manhattanite regulars to an Instagram crowd desiring to see what the fuss is all about. 

People-watching here is as intoxicating as the martinis. Featuring live piano music nightly, signature and classic cocktails served with an extra side pour, and some of New York’s best table snacks, Bemelmans is the epitome of New York sophistication, and was everything I imagined. A quick peek at the Carlyle lobby and the fireplace-warmed common areas made me yearn for an overnight stay. Next New York City visit, I’ll book a room. 

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