January 24, 2020
We've curated a selection of extraordinary boutique hotels in New York City — chosen by our experts and rated by our guests after verified stays — and included the latest MICHELIN Guide star-rated restaurants nearby. Tablet Hotels is your source for discovering the world's most interesting boutique hotels (we've been doing this for 20 years and now we're part of the Michelin family) — places where you'll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. Here's our top 10 New York City boutique hotels:
Ian Schrager is at it again. The boutique-hotel innovator has always been ahead of the curve, and with his nascent PUBLIC brand it's apparent he's caught on to something the world's luxury hoteliers have failed to notice: inclusive is the new exclusive. There's a little hint there in the name, of course, but it's apparent that from bottom to top, a place like New York's PUBLIC is meant to be warm, open, and welcoming — without sacrificing style or excitement. There's no front desk, but fear not: when you arrive, one of the hotel's "PUBLIC advisors" will find you and check you in.
Your room will be suitably Schrageresque, and attractive in its quietly elegant minimalism. It's all about contrast; these tranquil rooms, with their triple-glazed soundproof windows, are just what you need after a night out on the Lower East Side — or a night out in the hotel's public spaces, for that matter. There's no room service, and nothing but water in your minibar, so you're more or less forced to be social — and thanks to multiple bars spanning from the lobby to the rooftop to the events space and dance club that is PUBLIC Arts, there'll be plenty going on, and a restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten will quickly become a fixture on the downtown food scene as well. You're welcome to see for yourself.
In the boutique-hotel world, what's old is new again. In New York Sean MacPherson's hotels were among the first to turn away from glossy, futuristic minimalism and towards something with a bit more retro romance. So the historically inspired Marlton, the century-old Greenwich Village hotel which once hosted the likes of Jack Kerouac and Julie Andrews, is perfectly in character.
It's also perfectly full of character. In this town there are always bigger, swankier, more luxurious hotels. Personality is the only way out of that arms race. The Marlton is swanky enough, in its Parisian-inspired way, and it's also realistically priced, so as to make space for a more eclectic clientele. It's been described as a sort of baby Bowery, and that's not inaccurate — imagine the Bowery Hotel on a cozier scale with a slightly more residential vibe, and you're most of the way there.
The first Soho loft hotel is still the definitive entry in the genre. This 19th-century Romanesque Revival building was filled with artists' lofts during the neighborhood's postwar heyday, and its late-'90s renovation at the hands of superstar interior designer Christian Liaigre transformed it into one of the best of the first generation of boutique hotels. And while the competition has multiplied, the Mercer's never lost its sheen — sister hotel to Chateau Marmont and the Chiltern Firehouse, it's an André Balazs production, which means it's perennially on the radar of some of the world's most style-conscious travelers.
Guest rooms put their loft-style oversized windows and hardwood floors to good use, and the fixtures and furnishings are custom pieces, designed by Liaigre to convey a unique sense of place. Its elegance comes from its restraint and its confident minimalism, while its materials and textures keep it from coming off cold. And while the rooms aren't enormous — this is New York, after all — the suites quickly expand into haute-luxury territory.
That stray capital M is a nod to the neighborhood; fairly recently a no-man's-land, the district North of Madison Park is a Manhattan renewal success story in the making, and with the arrival of the NoMad Hotel it's moving up a notch or two on the luxury scale. There's a pronounced European accent to what's got to be the most Haussmannian building on Broadway — and of course the architectural ministrations of the Parisian designer Jacques Garcia only intensify the effect.
Even the smallest rooms are a touch larger than you might expect from a New York–Paris hybrid, and the bigger rooms find space for freestanding claw-foot tubs. The richness of the materials — from leather chairs to reclaimed hardwood floors — makes them feel authentically cozy, and the eclectic design sense (and the thoughtfully quirky artwork) lends a residential aspect, especially in the suites, which present a sort of artistic/aristocratic fantasy that's unique in New York hotels.
The Manhattan iteration of the 1 Hotels brand may have come first, but that doesn't mean the Brooklyn edition is an afterthought. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge stands at the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, looking across the East River at the Lower Manhattan skyline, a view that's unique among New York hotels. There's no more fitting location for 1 Hotels' eco-luxe aesthetic, with its salvaged materials, stylish design, and low-impact construction than here in Brooklyn, alongside the lush green park that's been reclaimed from the city's post-industrial waterfront.
The interiors make good on the hotel's low-impact promise. The majority of the materials are reclaimed or reused, including wood salvaged from the Coney Island boardwalk and Williamsburg's old Domino Sugar factory. The result isn't just virtuous, it's richly textured and touchable as well, lending a warmth to these old spaces that's at odds with the severe minimalism that once ruled New York's boutique hotels. And it's green in ways that are harder to see: the building collects rainwater, releasing it to the park when needed, and the whole hotel runs on wind power.
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, and it's been put to the best possible use. (We would say that, wouldn't we?) 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.
Over the years Thompson has built itself into the sort of operation where you more or less know what to expect when you hear the name: a certain blend of retro-modern style, comforts that are solidly high-end without feeling extravagant or ostentatious, and public spaces that don't just look after the guests but bring in the local life as well. At the Beekman, though, they've upped the ante a bit. The rooms, thanks to the historical structure, are spacious and solid, and the big, beautiful windows fill them with natural light. A few modern-vintage touches, like barn-style bathroom doors and dedicated cocktail tables, complete the picture.
Firmdale, the proprietors of Soho's fine Crosby Street Hotel (as well as too many London hotels to mention), is at it again, this time in Midtown, just two blocks from Central Park. The Whitby Hotel brings the warmth and coziness of English hospitality to a neighborhood that's already got plenty of American-style luxury hotels, and proves that Firmdale can compete with anyone in the world on comfort, and look just that much more stylish and charming while they're at it.
The Whitby Bar and Restaurant is a typically triumphant space — complete with afternoon tea service — as are the lobby lounge, the Orangery, the courtyard terrace, and the 130-seat private cinema that is the Whitby Theater. And the rooms! Here, as usual, owner-designer Kit Kemp puts her stamp on things, with trademark bold colors tuned to complement Midtown's slightly muted palette, and the usual exquisite taste in details, from the artwork to the bathroom fixtures to those steel Crittall windows.
If you're like us, you'll see the words "Times Square" and you'll be tempted to keep scrolling. But Merrion Row Hotel and Public House is worth lingering over for a bit. Yes, it's right around the block from Times Square itself, deep in the heart of Midtown's most heavily traveled neighborhood. But if you want a break from the noise and the crowds — well, that's what elevators are for. Once you're within the walls of Merrion Row, you're immersed in an idealized modern version of traditional Irish hospitality, a public house with all the cheer and warmth of historical Dublin, transplanted to 21st-century New York City.
A hotel with a point of view goes a long way towards distinguishing itself. Here the rooms are identifiably Irish in aspect, including large-format landscapes of the Emerald Isle or portraits of Irish notables. But what's perhaps most remarkable is Merrion Row's restraint. We've all seen Irish bars that walk right up to the border of kitsch, and then plunge ahead fearlessly. Merrion Row, in contrast, is ever tasteful. The Public House, too, pays just the right amount of tribute to its heritage, without crossing over into theatricality; the restaurant serves contemporary Irish-American fare, with a focus on the flavors of Ireland's west coast, and a long list of appropriately chosen beers and spirits.
What do we know about the Greenwich Hotel? It's got 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. Now there's no question that all these things make for great press, but do they mean anything to the guests? Of course they do.
The location, in a neighborhood that's become indelibly associated with DeNiro, places you roughly where hip and upscale intersect, minutes from more shopping and nightlife than any one neighborhood could reasonably need. And of course the building isn't bad either. Grayling may not yet be a household name, but they're well-known already for downtown hotspots like Balthazar. Here their incredibly detailed work projects a sense of care and confidence that's far more satisfying than the shock-and-awe flim-flam that until recently has dominated hotel design.
In general it's true that we're skeptical about the idea of hotel chains. But we tend to forget our principles when we're talking about the Firmdale group. Their six London hotels are six of the best hotels anywhere, and they can't help but be similar; aside from the obvious fact that they all share the same city, they all just as obviously share the same general philosophy of what a hotel ought to be — which they owe to their owners, Tim and Kit Kemp. And a part of that is visual, a natural family resemblance based on their all having been decorated by the very recognizable Kit.
Now if we didn't greatly admire the (smallish, intimate, service-oriented) Firmdale philosophy, and consider ourselves huge fans of Ms. Kemp's design style, we might be less excited about a London-based mini-chain expanding into New York. But a hotel like Crosby Street is exactly what this city needs. The contrast between the downtown grit of the cobblestone street outside and the plush sophistication of the hotel's lobby is immediate, and striking. Say what you will about the bright colors and the decidedly un-minimal décor — it's a rare New York boutique these days that presents so opinionated a face to the world.
More boutique hotel lists in the New York City Area:
Midtown New York Boutique Hotels
Brooklyn Boutique Hotels
Greenwich Village Boutique Hotels
Soho New York Village Boutique Hotels
Tribeca & Wall St Boutique Hotels
Meatpacking NYC Boutique Hotels
Flatiron NYC Boutique Hotels
View our entire selection of Boutique Hotels in New York City
The MICHELIN Guide's starred restaurant selections for New York City:
Many people vsiiting New York for the first time are shocked with the size of the rooms (smallish). If you need some space and are not looking to book a suite, here are some boutique hotels with larger standard rooms:
The Bryant Park Hotel Midtown
Sixty LES Lower East Side
For those pet lovers here are the best NYC boutique hotels that welcome pets (though charges typically apply):
Chambers 18.5/20 Guest Rating
The Archer 18.5/20 Guest Rating
Kimpton's Ink48 18/20 Guest Rating
There are plenty of great dining experiences in New York boutique hotels but here are a few recognized by The MICHELIN Guide we recommend:
11 Howard / Le Coucou
The NoMad Hotel / The NoMad
The New York EDITION / The Clocktower
Ace Hotel New York / The Breslin
The top-rated boutique hotels in Soho are:
Crosby Street Hotel 19.5/20 Guest Rating
The Mercer 19/20 Guest Rating
Sixty Soho 18/20 Guest Rating
For a complete list view our Best Boutique Hotels in Soho selections.
The top-rated boutique hotels in Midtown are:
The Whitby 19.5/20 Guest Rating
Merrion Row Hotel and Public House 19.5/20 Guest Rating
Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue 19/20 Guest Rating
For a complete list view our Best Boutique Hotels in Midtown selections.
The closest boutique hotels on Tablet near the Empire State Building are:
Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue 19/20 Guest Rating
The Archer 18.5/20 Guest Rating
Park Hyatt New York 19/20 Guest Rating
Tablet Hotels merged with MICHELIN in 2018 and is the hotels component of the MICHELIN Guide. For more information visit our About Tablet section.