The 9 Most Famous Hotels in New York City

NYC's most famous hotels are known for their luxury and high-profile clientele
NYC's most famous hotels are known for their luxury and high-profile clientele | © Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo
Visitors to the Big Apple come here not only to see its attractions and landmarks but also to experience the hotels that have become famous with starring roles in films. Here are the most famous places to stay in New York City – along with their A-list guests.

With one of the most famous cityscapes on the planet, New York City is used as a backdrop in films, artworks and photographs. Among the red-brick mansions and towering skyscrapers are a few hotels that have made a name for themselves on the big screen and in glossy magazines, attracting an influx of frequent celebrity guests. Here we’ve selected some of the best. You’re welcome.

The Plaza, 5th Avenue

Hotel
Courtesy of The Plaza / Hotels.com

The Plaza is as iconic as some of its celebrity fans, including F Scott Fitzgerald, who set part of The Great Gatsby here. Along with its appearance in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the Plaza has earned its Historic Hotel of America title. Built in 1907, the 20-story building in Midtown Manhattan hosts a famous afternoon tea service and has a suite inspired by beloved children’s book Eloise at the Plaza.

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The St Regis New York, 5th Avenue

Hotel
The St. Regis New York
Courtesy of The St. Regis New York / Hotels.com

Cocktail connoisseurs should make the pilgrimage to this hotel, where the bloody mary is said to have been invented at the King Cole Bar. The Beaux-Arts-style hotel was built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV, who died on the Titanic. After his death, his hotel would become a favorite of celebrities such as John Lennon and Salvador Dalí, as well as fictional icon James Bond. Today the St Regis is known for its pampering – including complimentary chauffeur-driven Bentleys and luxury butler service.

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The Carlyle, Madison Avenue

Hotel
The Carlyle
Courtesy of The Carlyle / Expedia.com

This stately Upper East Side hotel was destined for fame, having been named after the popular controversial essayist Thomas Carlyle. It’s no stranger to controversy, having been the reported meeting place of President John F Kennedy and actress Marilyn Monroe (the “New York White House” – as the hotel was referred to during Kennedy’s administration – is known for its discretion). Designers such as Dorothy Draper and Thierry Despont have helped decorate the 109 rooms and suites, while Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans contributed the original murals on display in Bemelmans Bar.

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Four Seasons New York, Madison Avenue

Hotel
Four Seasons New York
Courtesy of Four Seasons New York / Hotels.com

The Four Seasons bills itself as New York’s “tallest five-star luxury hotel.” However, it’s the ground floor of this 52-story building that made the hotel world-famous, where IM Pei, the Chinese-American architect behind the stunning glass Pyramid, outside the Louvre in Paris, designed the lobby. Its imposing French limestone pillars, geometric theme and 10m (33ft)-high ceilings make it one of the city’s premier design attractions.

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The New Yorker Hotel, 8th Avenue

Hotel
The New Yorker
Courtesy of The New Yorker / Hotels.com

You might recognize the New Yorker from the Manhattan skyline. Its bold “New Yorker” sign, at the top of the 43 stories, served as a beacon to Muhammad Ali, who stayed at the hotel following his 1971 defeat by Joe Frazier, and to the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. Today, the Art Deco hotel, built in 1929, attracts a late-night crowd with Butcher & Banker, a subterranean steakhouse situated in a 1920s-era bank vault. Tip: the New Yorker is the most affordable of the city’s famous hotels.

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The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, Autograph Collection, 6th Avenue

Hotel
The Algonquin Hotel Times Square
Courtesy of The Algonquin Hotel Times Square / Hotels.com
The Theater District’s Algonquin Hotel, built in 1902, is legendary in literary circles. Following World War I, the hotel hosted the Round Table salon, which included New Yorker magazine founder Harold Ross. William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir and Maya Angelou would all eventually stay. Naturally, the Algonquin is filled with literary references, such as work desks in each of its 181 rooms and its famous hotel cat, Hamlet. Make sure you book the Dorothy Parker suite when you come.
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The Knickerbocker, West 42nd

Hotel, Pubs with Rooms
The Knickerbocker, New York
Courtesy of The Knickerbocker / Hotels.com
Another Astor-owned hotel, the Knickerbocker is Times Square’s first luxury hotel. Before it was taken over by another famous clan, the royal family of Dubai, the Beaux-Arts style property hosted Newsweek magazine and is rumored to be the birthplace of the martini. Today, the hotel boasts a fitness program by the New York Knicks’ Larry Johnson and an exclusive New Year’s Eve rooftop party.
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The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

Hotel
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton New York / Hotels.com

Aside from its moniker, the Hotel St Moritz hasn’t changed since it was rebranded in 2002 as the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, or The Ritz. Since its opening in 1911, the hotel has provided famously upscale services across 259 rooms and suites and at its cult La Prairie spa. Timeless luxury amenities such as limousine and butler services (both available upon request) are behind this New York City icon’s endurance.

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Lotte New York Palace, Madison Avenue

Suite Hotel
Lotte New York Palace
Courtesy of Lotte New York Palace / Expedia.com

A well-known piece in New York’s metropolitan jigsaw, Lotte New York Palace’s gilded interior is the incarnation of many fantasies. Its decadent interior has become a familiar sight on screen, providing a cinematic setting for the sneaky socialites of Gossip Girl and countless other shows. The ornate Gold Room is a particular scene-stealer: a grand arched ceiling is carved with intricate details; half-moon-shaped paintings depict dreamy Edens, and hand-crafted cocktails are served from a black marble bar. The smart rooms keep up appearances with creamy bespoke armchairs, Molton Brown toiletries and sweeping views of the city. For a real treat, indulge yourself in the spa with expert treatments like a signature palace restorative massage.

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About this place:

City, Traditional, Historic

Chloe Byrne contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on April 2, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.