The Plaza is as iconic as some of its celebrity fans, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, who set part of The Great Gatsby at the hotel. This, along with its appearance in works such as Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, earned the Plaza its Historic Hotel of America title. The 111-year-old hotel is home to a famous afternoon tea service, a suite inspired by beloved children’s book Eloise at the Plaza, and other New York City bucket list attractions.
Cocktail connoisseurs should make the pilgrimage to the St. Regis New York, where the Bloody Mary is said to have been invented at the hotel’s King Cole Bar. The spicy signature drink is just one of the St. Regis’ claims to fame. The Beaux-Arts-style hotel was built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV, who famously perished in the Titanic tragedy. After his death, Astor’s hotel would become a favorite of celebrities such as John Lennon and Salvador Dalí, as well as fictional icon James Bond. Today’s St. Regis is known for its legendary pampering in the forms of complimentary chauffeur-driven Bentleys and luxury butler service.
This stately Upper East Side hotel was destined for fame, having been named for the popular controversial essayist Thomas Carlyle. The Carlyle itself is no stranger to controversy as the reported meeting place of President John F. Kennedy and actress Marilyn Monroe (the former “New York White House,” as the hotel was referred to during Kennedy’s administration, is known for its discretion). The 190-room property is also known for its luxury interiors. Designers such as Dorothy Draper and Thierry Despont have helped decorate the Carlyle’s rooms and suites, while Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans contributed the original murals on display in Bemelmans Bar.
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. IM Pei, the Chinese American architect behind Paris’ iconic Louvre Pyramid, also designed the lobby at New York’s Four Seasons. Its imposing French limestone pillars, geometric theme and 33-foot-high ceilings make it one of the city’s premier design attractions.
You might recognize The New Yorker Hotel from the Manhattan skyline. Its bold “New Yorker” sign has served as a beacon to Muhammad Ali, who stayed at the hotel following his 1971 defeat by Joe Frazier, as well as ‘King of Swing’ Benny Goodman. Today, the 88-year-old Art Deco hotel attracts a late-night crowd with Butcher & Banker, a subterranean steakhouse situated within a 1920s-era bank vault. Tip: the New Yorker is the most affordable of the city’s famous hotels.
The Theater District’s Algonquin Hotel 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 at this circa-1902 hotel. Naturally, the Algonquin is filled with literary references, such as work desks in each of its 181 rooms and its famous hotel cat, Hamlet.
Another Astor-family 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.
First-time guests at the Roosevelt Hotel will recognize it from its roles in 1987’s Wall Street and as the designated dog house for fighting couples on television’s Mad Men. Since opening in 1924, the hotel has made numerous on-screen appearances, most famously as the setting of Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve performances. (The Roosevelt claims the New Year’s Eve tradition of singing “Auld Lang Syne” started right here). Guests can become a part of local and national history when they stay in one of the hotel’s 1,025 accommodations.
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”. The 88-year-old hotel continues to provide famously upscale service at its cult spa La Prairie and in its 259 rooms and suites. Timeless luxury amenities like limousine and butler services (both available upon request) are behind this New York City icon’s endurance.