New York is growing, growing—and this growth is spawning a spectacular variety of hotels. Visitors to the city have never been more spoiled for choice, but these five properties, all recently opened, stand out from the pack. Leading luxury travelers farther from traditional hotel corridors (not to mention traditional design), they offer thoughtful details and thrilling views, and repurpose the past with respect and ingenuity.
An English Country House Comes to Midtown
Bringing a rare sense of whimsy to the heart of Manhattan, the Whitby Hotel (rooms from $695) is the latest from Tim and Kit Kemp’s Firmdale Hotels. Named after a North Yorkshire fishing town, the hotel is a kaleidoscope of color, pattern, and texture—a place that is warm and inviting, yet still exclusive.
Kit’s discerning, eclectic design sensibility can be seen in every detail, big and small. The lobby shines with an expansive rainbow-colored loom sculpture by Hermione Skye O’Hea above the front desk, terrariums by Mimi de Biarritz sit in the quiet library, and Martha Freud’s 40 illuminated porcelain vessels, each etched with a New York landmark, rest in recessed niches dotting the long wall of the Orangery. Keeping with English tradition, this space also hosts a daily afternoon tea, served with clotted cream flown in fresh from Devon on Kit’s own line of Wedgwood china. Above, the 86 individually decorated guest rooms come in many shapes and sizes, with none smaller than 330 square feet, which is big by New York standards. And with their deep soaking tubs and fabric-lined walls, they manage to feel even more homey than your actual home.
Sexy, Smart Design on the Lower East Side
New York is a city that embraces high-low—and no one does it better than Ian Schrager. The Studio 54 cofounder’s new Lower East Side hotel, Public (rooms from $150), is built on this crowd-pleasing model of democratized luxury. Since 1984, when Schrager helped create the first boutique hotel, Morgans, he’s had a hand in developing 16 more (Royalton, Paramount, Delano, Hudson...), all with sophisticated interiors and staffs of beautiful people. These places opened like wormholes to a future where everything—organic and manufactured— would be gorgeous.
Public carries that DNA in its show-stopping entryway (an escalator encased in a tunnel of dark infinity mirrors lined with golden light) and in its very large and social lobby. It even carries it into the 367 compact rooms, with their white, pillowy beds; distressed concrete ceilings; bronzed glass bathroom walls; and faux-fur throws, a Schrager signature.
The hotel has three bars and two restaurants, including Diego, a tequila bar, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Public Kitchen, where the pot stickers are sublime. Outside those spaces, staffing at Public is spare. No desk clerks, bellmen, porters, or concierges work there; only “Public advisers,” available to help with the automated check-in and to handle requests. There is no room service. When asked for a hard copy of the New York Times, one adviser answered by paper-shaming the guest. “We are an eco-friendly hotel,” she said. Without a single newspaper in the building, she did volunteer to go out and get one, which took about 40 minutes.
Public’s sometimes wobbly service is made up for by its sure-footed design, though. Even more impressive: The opening rate of $150 is roughly equal to what Paramount charged in 1990. You may never see a Manhattan hotel room this good, this cheap, again.
A Cool Clubhouse in Nomad
Without Ian Schrager, there would be no Sam Gelin, a 34-year-old impresario in the making who credits his predecessor as one of many inspirations for his more subdued kind of luxury. But Gelin’s first hotel, Made (rooms from $350), which is set among the wholesalers north of Madison Square Park, has more in common with its earthy neighbors, the Ace and NoMad hotels. Gelin and his designers, the L.A.-based Studio Mai, chose midcentury-inspired furniture for the lobby. Guests enter through a café built around a communal table, which dazzles as a bar at night. On the roof, a crescent-shaped bar called Good Behavior offers incredible views of Midtown’s skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building, as well as rooftops marked by old wooden water towers. The 108 guest rooms have low beds, anodized-bronze-and-brass open-concept closets, and Davines bath amenities. Gelin thinks he’s even found a way to make rainy days fun at Made: Instead of umbrellas, guests will face the weather in stylish Stutterheim raincoats from Sweden.
Luxury Arrives in Chinatown
While most of this neighborhood remains resolutely ungentrified, some development is inevitable. A local Chinese American family is behind Hotel 50 Bowery NYC (rooms from $365), New York’s first Joie de Vivre property and a thoughtful, welcome addition to the area. This brand-new, 21-story glass tower stands on a plot of land previously occupied by, at different times, a gambling den, a Yiddish vaudeville theater, and a German beer garden, among other establishments. Some of those forebears’ relics, unearthed during construction (fragments of clay smoking pipes, medicine bottles), are displayed in the hotel’s airy second-floor perch: 6,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor space that overlooks the Manhattan Bridge’s west end. In the hallways, tin-punch lanterns cast soothing light meant to evoke the evening ambience of a rural Chinese village.
The 229 comfortable guest rooms feature hand-plastered walls, heavy white robes with red embroidered dragons on the backs, and minibars stocked with fruit-flavored Hi-Chews and Pocky (crispy, coated biscuit sticks from Japan). Dale Talde runs the lobby-level restaurant, Rice & Gold, where there’s a huge communal table and spacious booths, so groups can enjoy plates of hand-pulled noodles and crispy papaya salad. Afterward, they might head to the rooftop bar, the Crown, where attention toggles between downtown’s heights of refinement (the Woolworth Building’s Gothic crown) and local color (a graffiti love note on a tenement roof: “KB ❤ JB”).
Brooklyn Gets the Hotel It Deserves
Though several upscale hotels have opened here over the past few years, none match the style and glamour of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (rooms from $350), the borough’s first true luxury stay. Skirting a grassy patch of parkland between Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights, the property, like its sister hotels in Midtown Manhattan and Miami Beach, aims to be a paragon of total ecology. In keeping with the ethos of the neighborhood, every aspect of a guest’s experience gives a nod to Mother Earth. The room keys are chits of wood with microchips inside, the sheets are organic cotton, and the house car, no surprise, is a shiny Tesla.
Best of all, the 1 feels like a giant indoor garden. Beyond the lobby’s 25-foot green wall, there are plants in every one of the 194 rooms, and moss gardens in many. So much indoor foliage, set next to floor-to-ceiling windows, gives practically every room, from the smallest 280-square-foot standard to the 2,000-square-foot Riverhouse Suite, a feeling of genuine connection to the outdoors. In the 12 Skyline 1 Bed Suites, that connection is deepened by the incredible unobstructed, eye-level views of the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1883, when the bridge first opened, it was called “the eighth wonder of the world,” an old-fashioned phrase that might sound like nostalgic nonsense—until you see the view from these rooms.