6 of the hottest hotels in New York City right now
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New York, the concrete jungle where new hotel dreams are made of — and thank goodness, because in the past, travellers to Manhattan had the choice between super pricey legacy hotels and soulless bedchambers with views of things like brick walls. Okay, so that era of hospitality extremes is over, but new entrants to the crowded field are always cause for some excitement. Recent years have seen a veritable explosion of new hotels, and even more are on the way.
With a record 66.9 million visitors descending on the Big Apple last year alone, according to the guide NYC & Company, they literally can’t build ’em fast enough. Twenty hotels opened in 2019 and well over two dozen are on track to open this year. How to sift the genuinely exciting from the newish but ho-hum can be a somewhat subjective exercise — a familiar name opening in a trendy neighbourhood may thrill some but leave non-brand loyalists indifferent.
In other words, it’s personal. What excites me as much as brand-new builds is transformations of old New York buildings in familiar places — it’s that disruptive charm of old New York, if you will. However you slice it, here’s where some of that hotel buzz is right now.
When the Bryant Park Hotel opened a number of years ago in the former American Radiator Building it caused a stir, bringing new life to a small sliver of green that was largely an afterthought yet was then on the cusp of transformation into a vital urban space. Fast-forward to last year and the debut of the Park Terrace Hotel, also on 40th Street opposite the south side of Bryant Park. The aesthetic is light blue and bright — think floor-to-ceiling windows in the 226 guest rooms with blue pastel curtains and pops of periwinkle elsewhere in the plush interiors. Like the relatively new Luma hotel nearby, in a location like this you’re in the heart of the action but can also feel very comfortably ensconced and above the fray.
And you’ll be literally above it at the gorgeous al fresco Terrazzo Lounge, with views of the park and Empire State Building. This winter you can cosy up inside a pair of igloos as part of the Apres Chalet takeover — seasonal sips and table-side raclette add to the charm. The hotel’s ground floor restaurant, La Pecora Bianca, is close to completion and if the complimentary Breakfast Bar (on the sixth floor) is any indication, it’s going to be a winner.
Price: Deluxe rooms start at £175 a night.
One of the nice things about staying in a hotel in the west 50s is that you are close to Broadway and Times Square without feeling crushed by it. And speaking of perfect pied-à-terres in this quintessentially New York-y neck of the woods, the new Conrad Hilton Midtown just crushes it. Its former iteration as the London NYC was palpably thirsty for a rebranding and now it’s got a sparkling new identity in spades. The tower soars 54 stories over West 54th Street and all 562 rooms are branded as suites only, coming in sizes ranging from 500 square feet to the two-story, 3,000-square foot penthouse with celestial Central Park views. Design elements include custom furniture, herringbone wood floors, hand-tufted wool rugs and bathrooms of carrera marble.
This resolutely high-end Midtown address is tasteful to a T, from the gleaming Dabble restaurant to the curated art collection.The Conrad Hilton Midtown participates in the Hilton Honors loyalty programme.
Price: One-bedroom suites start at £285 a night.
3. The Kixby
This newcomer reclaims a landmark 1901 Beaux Arts style building that was originally home to the Collingwood, a luxe hotel from the days of yore in a very old-school and still agreeably gritty New York neighbourhood. Reborn as The Kixby, the place exudes a secluded, members-only kind of feel even though it’s located just steps from the cacophony of Herald Square, home of Macy’s flagship store. The 195 guest rooms are surprisingly spacious (10-foot ceilings for New York hotel rooms are rare) for this cramped part of town and hardwood floors and fluted wood panelling set a genteel tone. The colour palette leans to periwinkle blue and charcoal grey and the furnishings were crafted by Amish carpenters from Ohio, which is pretty cool (and comfortable). Marbled bathrooms with bright intelligent lighting are another luxury touch.
The lobby level cocktail lounge, Lot 15, serves up a solid range of libations as well as upscale nibbles like a Wagyu steak sandwich and warm skillet apple cake. It’s a great winter hideaway, but in warmer weather the place to be is the hotel’s Lookup Rooftop Bar with gobsmackingly close views of the Empire State Building.
Price: Lux queen rooms start at £116 a night.
With all due respect to the tourist hordes, most New Yorkers look forward to a stroll through congested Times Square about as much as they do to a trip to the dentist. No surprise then that Yabu Pushelberg, the design team behind the Times Square Edition, calls the big boutique-style hotel “the ultimate counterpoint to its surroundings”. And though it may be hard to think of a 42-story, 452-room behemoth with an electronic billboard wrapped around its bottom as an oasis, that’s more or less what this place is: a design-forward, Ian Schrager-authored hotel in a neighborhood still mostly renowned for neon and noise. Lush green walls in parts of the lobby (on the eighth floor) and other aesthetic nods to things botanical channel Central Park, while neutral color schemes — think white oak floors and parchment-toned drapes — imbue the guest rooms with a flavour that’s decidedly oppositional to the Times Square din.
As you would expect from Ian Schrager, dining and lounging opportunities lean toward the theatrical and include the swish Terrace and Outdoor Gardens (a stylish nod to Central Park’s Tavern on the Green), Chef John Fraser’s restaurant 701West with chartreuse velvet banquettes, mahogany panelling and fancy fare, and the Paradise Club which is home to a dinner theater experience called “The Devouring: A Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. An exciting new hotel in this over-touristed part of town is arguably somewhere between the two. Edition hotels are part of Marriott Bonvoy, and as a Category 7 property, nights here start at 50,000 points off-peak and 70,000 peak.
Price: A guest room starts at £270 a night.
Here’s another exciting entrant to the burgeoning hotel scene between NoMad and Bryant Park. What the 27-story, 176-room Hotel Hendricks brings to the table is Italian design flair, a pair of rooftop bars and of course a great location on West 38th Street, just steps west of Fifth Avenue. L.A.-based designer Marcello Pozzi chose handmade Italian furniture and, in a cheeky nod to the urban jungle, copious quantities of animal prints to leave his mark and raise the aesthetic bar a bit. Corridors have a hint of industrial chic with exposed concrete but in the guest rooms, floor-to-ceiling mahogany and Italian millwork create a suave and sophisticated kind of space. In addition to the rooftop bars, there’s a new Pan-Latin restaurant called Paloma.
Price: A superior queen room starts at £140 a night.
Few new Gotham hotels have generated as much buzz as the new Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards, but that may be because Hudson Yards itself is so new. There is a breezy semi-tranquility to this swathe of the isle that is itself kind of a thing. Just note that the hotel occupies the 24th through 38th floors of a 92-story tower, and also if you don’t feel like shedding carbs by hoofing it around Manhattan fear not, there’s a 60,000-square-foot Equinox Fitness Club for that.
Price: Deluxe rooms start at £490 a night.
The New York hotel boom is going strong, with all manner of themes and designs vying for travellers’ attention. Fancy cat properties like Times Square Edition and the Conrad Hilton Midtown lure the well-heeled, the high-rollers and the points-savvy, while boutique hotels like The Kixby and Hendricks offer a uniquely Manhattan mix of prime locations and lower-key charm. In the meantime, the 2020 hotel scene is looking bright with the advent of the Six Senses in the new XI towers by the High Line, a planned Virgin Hotel and the Margaritaville Resort Times Square — among many others. So start spreadin’ the news and maybe book that flight!
Featured photo courtesy of The Times Square EDITION hotel