Unique New York

The Most Interesting Hotels in Manhattan

Collective Governors Island
Collective Governors Island — New York City

Not the most expensive. Not the most iconic. Not the most well known. No, these Manhattan hotels have the most compelling combination of story, setting, and design — according to me.

By Mark Fedeli
Marketing and Editorial Director, Tablet Hotels

What is America to me? Thanks for asking. To me, it’s equal parts Old West and New York. Last week I covered the former, this week the latter. Those two ends of the sprawling spectrum represent everything I love about this country: the open spaces, pioneering spirit and problematic myths of westward expansion, and the highly walkable, close-knit cultural furnace of New York’s five boroughs. Who am I, anyway? I’ve been at Tablet, obsessing over hotels, for nearly 20 years. Nice to meet you.

Earlier in the year I highlighted Brooklyn’s best places to stay, now I’m zooming in on the most interesting hotels in Manhattan, including one that’s in Manhattan but not on Manhattan. Have I got your attention now?

Manhattan is no stranger to traditional luxury and the iconic hotels that provide it, whether it be local legends like the Plaza and the Carlyle, or any of the household names that have properties here (Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, St. Regis, Park Hyatt, Peninsula). For the purposes of this exercise, I’m listing the hotels across all price points that I think have the most compelling combination of backstory, setting, and design.

It’s just one person’s opinion, but on this Independence Day weekend, in the run-up to a historically bizarre presidential election, we remember that every vote counts, and every opinion matters — even yours! That’s why we just launched Missives & Miscellany, our new forum for your stories, rants, questions, and anecdotes. Express yourself.

The Hotel Chelsea

New York City, NY, USA

The Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea is where just about every artist of any significance lived, stayed, or at least hung out; hosting everyone from Mark Twain to Arthur Miller to Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and even Madonna. Its walls are still adorned with artworks donated by generations of well-known visual artists. And what’s perhaps most impressive about the freshly renovated Chelsea is how much of this romance remains intact, even as it’s been updated for 21st-century boutique-hotel travelers.

Nine Orchard

New York City, NY, USA

Nine Orchard

In Dimes Square there’s a buzz that’s reminiscent of some of Downtown’s earlier golden ages — and, in Nine Orchard itself, there’s a hotel with enough character and personality to become a proper neighborhood institution. What was once the Jarmulowsky Bank building retains much of its century-old grandeur — they quite literally don’t make them like they used to. As ornate as the façade and the public spaces may be, particularly the historic bank lobby with all its vaulted wonder, the rooms opt for something a little more subdued.

The Beekman

New York City, NY, USA

The Beekman

Hard to believe an architectural gem of the Beekman’s stature went neglected for so many years, but we’re happy to report that it’s back in business. The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, to give it its full name, is an Old New York original, an 1881-vintage skyscraper from the days when a skyscraper meant nine stories of terraced red brick. And if the silhouette doesn’t convince you of its landmark status, a glance upwards surely will, as you walk across the towering central atrium with its pyramidal glass skylight.

The Maritime Hotel

New York City, NY, USA

The Maritime Hotel

The Maritime Hotel was designed in 1966 for the National Maritime Union; hence its name and nautical theme. This is not a traditional hotel — all rooms face westward, looking over the Hudson through five-foot porthole windows. The rooms are compact, but well-designed, with built-in furniture, so that all the necessities easily fit into the space. The décor almost borders on kitsch, but is actually quite charming, with some suites sporting a shockingly comprehensive collection of National Geographic magazines.

Casa Cipriani

New York City, NY, USA

Casa Cipriani

Lower Manhattan’s iconic Battery Maritime Building, a 1906 ferry terminal in an ornate Beaux-Arts style, is the venue for Casa Cipriani, a members’ club and luxury boutique hotel by the legendary Italian restaurateurs and hoteliers. Inside is probably the purest dose of contemporary Italian luxury design available this side of Milan; the rooms and suites are remarkably restrained in their opulence, in contrast with the building’s exterior ornament, and those that face the river offer a view unlike any other hotel in town.

The Greenwich Hotel

New York City, NY, USA

The Greenwich Hotel

The Greenwich Hotel has a celebrity owner (none other than Robert DeNiro), a prime Tribeca location, impeccable design credentials courtesy of one of New York’s top firms, Grayling Design, and some truly obsessive construction, having something to do with thousands of very expensive handmade bricks. The rooms start at luxurious and end at comically luxurious. There’s not just a spa but a pool as well — not exactly common in New York, but then not much about the Greenwich is.

Collective Governors Island

Governors Island, NY, USA

Collective Governors Island

Governors Island isn’t exactly typical of New York neighborhoods — set between Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty, and technically part of Manhattan, the island and city park enjoys unparalleled views and an inimitable atmosphere. Collective Governors Island offers the sort of grown-up summer-camp experience you’d ordinarily drive to the Catskills to find, accompanied by live entertainment and cocktails on the Sunset Terrace. Tents and cabins feature air conditioning, en suite bathrooms, and high-end amenities.

Crosby Street Hotel

New York City, NY, USA

Crosby Street Hotel

There are now three Firmdale hotels in New York. But there used to be only one: the Crosby Street Hotel. The arrival of Kit Kemp’s eclectic design eye, ultra-vivid color sense, and affinity for prints and patterns may in fact have been what put an end to the downtown Manhattan mania for minimalist, monochrome luxury-hotel spaces. Crosby Street’s warehouse-style windows are a fine fit for industrial-influenced SoHo. But behind them: the strong dose of English town-meets-country luxury New York didn’t know it needed.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel

New York City, NY, USA

The Fifth Avenue Hotel

Architecturally, the Fifth Avenue Hotel spans more than a century, combining a 1907 Renaissance-style mansion by the original Penn Station architects with a modern 24-story glass tower. And inside, the Gilded Age glamour of its public spaces serves as the inspiration for designer Martin Brudnizki’s fantastically colorful and ornate rooms and suites. From the humblest queen room all the way up to the signature suites — one named for Baudelaire — the accommodations are rich with detail and full of high-end comfort.

The Standard High Line

New York City, NY, USA

The Standard High Line

The Standard High Line is a bold architectural statement — an eye-popping structure that leans unapologetically into brutalism, like a slightly bent UN building on stilts, or a giant, deactivated robot, waiting quietly to be turned on and turned lose. Even the interiors feel a bit utopian, decked out in a retro-future style that pays homage to Scandinavian mid-century modernism — a welcome departure from the faux-Romantic grittiness that seems to prevail in the Meatpacking District.

The Jane Hotel

New York City, NY, USA

The Jane Hotel

The Jane resembles an old-fashioned ocean liner, in that it has two very distinct classes of accommodation. The tiny cabins and bunk rooms are ideal for budget travelers and young revelers for whom a Manhattan location trumps all else, while the first-class Captain’s Cabins rooms offer a more typically lavish New York boutique-hotel experience. The star of the show, though, is the nightlife, which manifests regularly in the legendary Jane Ballroom.

Aman New York

New York City, NY, USA

Aman New York

Their first city hotel in the Americas, Aman New York is another chapter in the evolution of Aman Resorts, a hospitality brand that sits at the very top of the top-tier hospitality brands. For their Manhattan outpost they’ve created a self-contained world of luxury right in the heart of midtown, discreetly tucked away inside the upper floors of a Beaux-Arts skyscraper from 1921, a quietly elegant setting that compares favorably with some of its gaudier neighbors.

mark

Mark Fedeli is the hotel marketing and editorial director for Tablet and Michelin Guide. He’s been with Tablet since 2006, and he thinks you should subscribe to our newsletter.