There are 26 Virtuoso properties in NY, second only to London. It’s a place that is familiar to nearly every luxury traveler, foodie, museum rat, theatre lover and many consider it THE world's city. For this I am boldly rating the best hotels with my brutally honest opinion and my own criteria. I also know that I can make a case for every one of these properties save a few. Travel + Leisure picked The Surrey, Conde Nast chose The Langham. Great hotels, no doubt. But the best?
LOCATION, Location, location is how it's organized.
Upper East Side: The Mark, The Surrey, The Lowell, Plaza Athenee, The Pierre, The Carlyle.
- When a hotel starts with “THE” you are sniffing in the right direction. It says one of a kind hotel and quintessential NY. The Upper East Side is my first choice on where to stay in NY without question and I will accept no argument.
- NY can be a zoo and it's better to walk past it than be in it. The Upper East Side is quieter than all other neighborhoods put together.
- Proximity to the Park, museums, fine dining, and access to quick and seamless transportation even when it starts to rain. Also a running start to the Theatres where east to west is a quick ride through the Park even at the craziest of hours.
The Mark gets my vote as the best hotel in NY. When you walk in the lobby you will understand that this is the place you want to stay. Fantastic rooms with the best hotel fridge in the world. Restaurant and bar by Jean Georges, churning out straight forward, flawless cuisine and cocktails. They boast a killer wine list, too. It’s like an Upper East Side club house and people-watching mecca. The restaurant is purposely dark to keep Instagram at bay. Amenities: Bikes with picnic baskets (Yogi would stay here) for your park adventure, pedi-cabs for a shopping/park adventure for non-peddlers and a sailboat when you’re thinking….. what’s something new I can do in NY! The best Virtuoso amenities too. The Mark has no chinks in its armor. Some find park views to be too expensive but the ones who do book park views I guarantee think it's worth every penny. You can always get transportation even when it starts to rain!
My number Two, Three and possibly Four best hotels are also on the Upper East Side. For the rest click here for the full rundown. I can go on about the Upper East Side here.
Central Park Hotels: The Pierre (also Upper East Side), The Plaza, The Ritz Central Park, The Mandarin, Trump Tower
- If you have to have to be on the Park with a Park view and a block or two won’t do then these are your likely suspects.
The Mandarin is the best choice here views. There's just something about a hotel that starts on the 35th floor…. Price is as much as a third more here but even views of the East River are epic. Park View may be partially blocked by that eyesore Trump Tower EWWW, but if you move your curtain just right... voilà. Floor to ceiling windows that make 400 sq ft look like 1,000. One stop shopping with an epic shopping mall on the ground floor. Tippity top restaurants with two on property fine dining options: Aviary (with out of this world cocktails) and Asiate. Speakeasy and probably the best relationship with Perse too (also in the building). Killer spa and a side entrance on a quieter W 60th. Best location for Lincoln Center too.
Honorable mention: The Pierre fits the bill of quintessential NY Hotel on the Park and Upper East Side. Up and coming restaurant Perrine plus Park views. Will it soon be number one?
Downtown (loosely drawn): The Greenwich, The NY Edition, Four Seasons downtown, Ritz Carlton Battery Park, Royalton Park Avenue, W New York, Trump So Ho.
- I have not stayed at any of these hotels but really want to. Tried at both the NY Edition in the clock tower at Madison Park and The Greenwich in Tribeca, a guests only vibe... They were both completely booked. A real neighborhood-y scene with killer restaurants within walking distance.
- Got a great tour of The Greenwich and want to stay here even more now. Same for NY Edition especially for proximity to Eleven Madison Park and Nomad restaurant. I am enamored with The Gansevoorts (now Royalton) architecture too. On my next solo visit, I plan to stay at two of these.
Right now it’s a tie between The Greenwich and The Edition as highest on my list for this loacation. The Millennials Upper East Side
Midtown: Four Seasons, Baccarat, Park Hyatt, Intercontinental Barclay, Lotte Palace, Peninsula, Waldorf Astoria, St Regis, Chatwal, Langham Place.
- Here is where I am going to get in trouble. NO, nope, not. New York can be a zoo and Midtown traffic is horrendous. Everywhere you turn there is a construction zone with streets blocked off and crowds of tourists packing the sidewalks. Taxis are a mess--even more so when raining. You will be bumped into or maybe knocked down by rushing or confused pedestrians. Even though most of these are lovely hotels, I just can’t do it. May hit a night or two with my wife next year for her proximity to work, but overall it's a major pass on Midtown.
That said, The Baccarat is the rule breaker for me. It's literally one of the most stunning hotels I have ever seen. I toured this hotel, and it may just be worth braving Midtown to stay here. It doesn't have a venerable link to the storied hotels of NY. But neither does the Mandarin. It does have a link to their own storied past, however. "In 1764 King Louis XV of France gave permission to found a glassworks in the town of Baccarat." I will be staying here on my next visit. Will I have to eat all of my words and proclaim The Baccarat as the best? The Mark, The Pierre, The Surrey, The Carlyle, The Plaza and all the rest... probably. Unless the Jester crown falls and hits me on my head probably. What about the food? Hmmm, good question. We will see.