10 of New York City’s Most Historic Hotels
The Big Apple is full of historic hotels (including some that are quite luxurious) that date back more than 100 years and have storied pasts full of celebrities, royalty, secret tunnels, and intrigue.
For example, a stay at The Carlyle means more than luxury — it also means staying at the hotel where JFK allegedly snuck Marilyn Monroe through secret tunnels up to his 34th floor suite after his 1961 inauguration. And having a drink at the Gramercy Park Hotel means doing much the same thing as legendary Yankee Babe Ruth, who became a regular there.
Many hotels in New York City are in landmarked buildings, like The Knickerbocker, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a New York City Designated Landmark in 1988, according to the hotel. And developers are even considering turning the iconic Chrysler Building into a hotel (our art deco-loving hearts can only dream).
Whether you’re sipping an Old Fashioned at the bar or walking the halls where princesses and presidents have walked before you — a stay at one of these historic hotels is sure to leave you with a story to tell.
The Plaza first opened its doors in 1907 and has since seen famous faces like John Lennon, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Frank Lloyd Wright walk through its doors and has been featured in legendary movies like “The Way We Were” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”
When it first opened, the first motorized NYC cabs lined up outside the hotel and a room would rent for $2.50 (it’s a little pricier now).
Find it: The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
The New York EDITION
The New York EDITION sits in a clocktower that was originally built in 1909 as the headquarters for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Now, the building — which was the world’s tallest until 1913 — is a luxury hotel featuring 273 rooms and gorgeous views of the city’s skyline and down to Madison Square Park.
Find it: The New York EDITION, 5 Madison Ave.
Lotte New York Palace
This hotel was originally imagined as a group of townhouses in 1882 before the Archdiocese of New York, who owned the land, allowed for a tower to be built behind the building in the mid-1970s, according to the hotel. It opened as The Helmsley Palace in 1980 and was eventually repurchased and renamed Lotte New York Palace in 2015.
Find it: Lotte New York Palace, 455 Madison Ave.
Gramercy Park Hotel
A favorite of musicians, celebrities, and politicians, this hotel can follow its history back to when swampy lots were divided up in the 1830s “to draw potential residents ‘uptown,’” according to the hotel. The New York Hotel opened in 1925 — built on the site where Edith Wharton was born — and later played host to Humphrey Bogart, John F. Kennedy, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Bob Marley, and more.
On top of its long storied history, the hotel’s art collection includes pieces from artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring.
Find it: Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave.
JW Marriott Essex House New York
The Essex House is found inside a 1931 Art Deco building overlooking Central Park and is one of the Historic Hotels of America. Today, the hotel channels that history into its decor with geometric carpets, silver leaf wall coverings, and crystal lamps.
Find it: JW Marriott Essex House New York, 160 Central Park South
The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
The Carlyle was completed in 1930 and has had many important people grace its halls in the years since. The hotel has hosted every American president since Harry S. Truman, as well as Princess Diana, Prince William, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. And, in keeping with its high-end clientele, the Upper East Side hotel is famously discreet.
Find it: The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, 35 E. 76th St.
The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York
The Pierre first opened on Oct. 1, 1930 with the backdrop of the Great Depression and Prohibition (and speakeasies). Frequent guests have included Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn — who lived at the hotel while shooting “Breakfast at Tiffany's” — Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, and Andy Warhol. In 1981, it was designated as a New York historic landmark.
Find it: The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, 2 E. 61st St.
The Algonquin was turned into a hotel in 1902 because short-term guests made the residential building more profitable. At the time, a single room cost only $2. The hotel famously hosted the Round Table, a group of writers who started meeting in 1919 (one of whom started The New Yorker), and has a resident cat (the original kitty, Billy, came to the hotel in 1923). Today, it stands as the city’s oldest operating hotel.
Find it: Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St.
The St. Regis New York
The St. Regis was founded by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904, a few years before he died on the Titanic. The luxury hotel is said to have created the original Bloody Mary in the 1930s and has had many famous guests, including Salvador Dali.
Find it: The St. Regis New York, 2 E. 55th St.
Like the St. Regis, this Beaux-Arts hotel was first built in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV and became a party haven until Prohibition hit. The property was converted into offices in 1920 (it even housed Newsweek at one point) and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a New York City Landmark in 1988. It finally reopened as a luxury hotel in 2015.
Find it: The Knickerbocker, 6 Times Square