New York City Hotels Going Above and Beyond

In a city of superlatives, where the bar is endlessly reaching loftier heights, what can a historic property do to impress you? Crystal chandeliers may have been impressive in the Gilded Age, but now many renowned New York landmarks that have been around for a century can seem (gasp) old-fashioned in a mob of über-modern, novelty-heavy hotels. To what lengths do these prestigious and antique properties go to ensure their distinguished clientele stay happy? These five iconic hotels remind us that among space age, neon festooned new builds, classic elegance and impeccably kept traditions can truly define luxury.

St. Regis
Located on 5th Avenue, the St. Regis has been a Manhattan staple for over 100 years. Opened by the Astor family, there are still personal touches like the traditional butler service, (they’ll even saber open a bottle of Champagne for you!), afternoon tea and Lady Astor’s fresh flowers. The touted home of The Bloody Mary cocktail, you can partake in this signature libation in the King Cole Lounge. Authentic antique furnishings, silk wall coverings and positively plush amenities adorn every suite, and the view of Central Park doesn’t hurt, either.

Popular among business elite, this sophisticated property was built in 1905. Even after a tumultuous century of being passed from owner to owner, it was named one of the greatest hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure. No expense is spared here so you will experience the utmost in impeccable service and dining. Famous for its Champagne Brunch, artfully presented Japanese and Chinese dishes add a unique spin on the usual omelets and fresh squeezed juices. Tucked in the heart of 5th Avenue, you’ll find Peninsula next to the elaborate Presbyterian Church.

Ritz-Carlton Central Park
Overlooking Central Park, this prestigious brand name was built in 1930. You’ll almost feel as though you are visiting Daddy Warbucks’ home. There is an intimate, homey feel even considering the top hat, white gloved doorman. After your world-class meal in the Star Lounge, sample a flight of three different style chocolates paired with three carefully chosen wines, a contemporary twist on an otherwise very straight laced vibe. Another modern twist is their down pillow menu, in stark contrast to the French limestone moldings and onyx inlaid floors.

The Pierre
Built in 1930 overlooking Central Park, this property was a labor of love by Charles Pierre Casalasco, a driven bus-boy turned renowned chef from Corsica. The recognizable tower was modeled after the Royal Chapel of Versailles, and the limestone façade at the front is distinctly French. The view from the tower is second to none! What really sets this opulently appointed hotel apart though, is Jiva, its spa. Using ancient Indian traditions of healing and relaxation, this is a spa like no other. From sublime foot rubs to yoga instruction, you’ll be taken to a place of royal relaxation.

The Surrey
Once home to JFK, Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert (not at the same time), this residence hotel has maintained the spirit of its illustrious history whilst still keeping with the times. Not so much gilded glamour, this updated property (built in 1926) now boasts still decadent furnishings but with a modern edge. The biggest draw to this hotel is its rooftop garden, complete with cushy loungers and gorgeous flora. Check out Café Boulud where the chef is Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” and the each plate looks like an art installation.

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