As everyone knows, there are myriad hotels in New York City, something for every budget and taste. Most people stay in Marriotts or Holiday Inns, both very fine, though somewhat generic and unmemorable. There are a few hotels in New York that are remarkable enough to be considered destinations in and of themselves. Having stayed at various properties from the bizarre to the elegant, I can say with confidence that the hotels listed here will rank as your top “Must Sleep” destinations in the Big Apple.
The Chelsea Hotel:
First, there is the Chelsea Hotel at 222 W. 23rd Street. It is absolutely drenched in history, not all of it glamorous. Sid Vicious apparently stabbed his girlfriend there in 1978. The playwright Eugene O’Neil, Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin have all stayed here. Built in the 1880’s as luxury apartments, the twelve-story structure offers both hotel rooms and apartments. The 1905 subdividing is capricious and every room is unique. There are a number of permanent residents and this has to be, literally and figuratively, the most colorful hotel I have ever visited. The clientele can best be described as “bohemian.” Artists, actors, writers have and still do call this venerable structure ‘home.’ There is always drama in the lobby and you are lucky to get a seat in the relatively small space to watch the denizens of The Chelsea as they give some sort of personal performance, whether tragic or comedic. One day, a young man obsessed over the fact that the local deli was sold out of his favorite muffins and how it had ruined his day.
Even if you choose to stay elsewhere, a visit to The Chelsea is a glimpse into the fascinating world of New York on the edge. Take the elevator to the top floor and walk down the gracious stairways to view the art that lines the walls. Many an artist has paid their rent by donating a painting, and it is truly an eclectic mix.
On the other end of the spectrum is The Carlyle on the Upper East Side at Madison and E. 76th Street. This property won the 2010 Travel + Leisure award for “Best New York Hotel.” “Dignified” is one of the adjectives that best describes this magnificent Art Deco building. Best of all, pets are accepted. The doorman even remembered our dog’s name on a subsequent visit. The legendary Café Carlyle hosts such talents as Woody Allen. The Carlyle is as quiet as The Chelsea is noisy. Ironically, The Carlyle also has residential accommodations available.
Finally, one cannot mention New York hotels without talking about its Grande Dame, The Waldorf-Astoria. The stream of people passing through its lobby is every bit as fascinating to watch as those of the previous two hotels. Famous faces are frequent and the sheer energy of The Waldorf is invigorating.
No matter what level of hotel you choose in New York City, a visit to just the lobbies of the three listed above can be a fascinating experience. Just sit and enjoy the parade.