By Sara Clemence
July 08, 2020
Credit: Scott Frances/Courtesy of The Mark Hotel

New York City’s Upper East Side might be one of its best-known neighborhoods for culture — it’s the home of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and other world-class art institutions — but it is also home to some of the city’s very best hotels. The area to the east of Central Park might lack downtown’s edge and Times Square’s riot of lights, but it does tend to be manicured and well-mannered. The same holds true for its top hotels.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L invites its readers to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Out of the 15 hotels ranked best in New York City by T+L readers, five are in the distinguished Upper East Side, and all of these take their cues from their upscale residential surroundings, offering spacious rooms, classic architecture, personal service, and attention to detail.

There’s the 74-room Lowell, which feels like many of the coveted apartments nearby. It’s furnished with plump sofas, taffeta fabrics, and hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper; many rooms have wood-burning fireplaces, and more than a dozen boast their own landscaped terraces. “A general aura of elegance pervades all,”  marveled one reader, who helped vote the tony property to the No. 3 spot. It was surpassed only by New York’s No. 1 winner (keep scrolling for the reveal) and another hotel 13 blocks north: this category’s runner-up, the Surrey, which one fan called a “spectacular gem in a sea of hotels.”

Of course, uptown doesn’t have a lock on luxury, nor do the traditional hotels. This year’s list includes midtown Manhattan and the sleek Langham (No. 8), with its floor-to-ceiling windows and Michelin-starred restaurant, Ai Fiori. The High Line Hotel, located in a former seminary in Chelsea, came in at No. 5, thanks to its proximity to the buzzy Meatpacking District and eponymous park. And even a hotel with wallet-friendly shared bunk rooms, the Arlo Nomad (No. 15), made it onto the list. The Ludlow, whose eclectic lobby has become a hangout for the downtown set, came in at 11.

No matter what your travel taste, you’ll find a property to suit you — exactly as you’d expect from New York.

1. The Mark

Credit: Angela Pham/Courtesy of The Mark Hotel

Score: 96.24

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Celebrities prep and designers hold after-parties for the Met Gala at this polished hotel — and not just because it’s conveniently located a block from the museum. It manages to be elegant but not stuffy, intimate but not confining. Every aspect of the hotel has been carefully considered: the interiors by Jacques Grange, whose client roster includes Aerin Lauder and Francis Ford Coppola; the hair salon by Frédéric Fekkai; the turndown treats from Ladurée. “The staff was very warm and accommodated all of my family's requests,” wrote one reader, who also raved about the rooms being “fresh and spacious, with one of the most comfortable hotel bathrooms I've ever seen.” Guests can book a private training session in the gym or tour the town in the Mark’s own stripe-adorned pedicab. It makes a strong case for being travelers’ home base in the city.

2. The Surrey

Credit: Courtesy of The Surrey

Score: 94.76

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3. The Lowell

Credit: Ellie Pinney/Courtesy of The Lowell

Score: 93.95

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4. WestHouse

Credit: Courtesy of WestHouse

Score: 92.44

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5. High Line Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of The High Line Hotel

Score: 91.82

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6. Crosby Street Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of Crosby Street Hotel

Score: 91.70

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7. The Carlyle

Credit: Alpha Smoot

Score: 91.14

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8. The Langham

Credit: Courtesy of The Langham, New York

Score: 90.96

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9. The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of The Chatwal

Score: 90.83

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10. Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 90.62

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11. The Ludlow

Credit: Annie Schlechter/Courtesy of The Ludlow Hotel

Score: 90.25

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12. The Beekman

Credit: Courtesy of The Beekman

Score: 90.11

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13. The Peninsula New York

Credit: Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

Score: 89.43

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14. The Pierre - a Taj Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of The Pierre, a Taj Hotel

Score: 89.20

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15. Arlo Nomad

Credit: Courtesy of Arlo NoMad

Score: 89.01

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See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.