New York City is one of many delights with history and modernity coexisting in what is the most populated city in the USA. The city traces its origins to a trading post founded by Dutch colonists in 1624. With such a long, illustrious history behind it, it is no surprise that many buildings and districts are major landmarks. Amongst these buildings considered historical landmarks, you will find many New York City historic hotels. History buffs will find that staying at a historic hotel in NYC is an experience. However, whether you plan to base yourself at the oldest hotel, NYC, or immerse yourself in contemporary luxury, these 100-year-old hotels have stories to tell.
Despite their historic tags, many of these hotels still stand among the most expensive hotels in New York City. They exude elegance and charm with their upgraded interiors and amenities. Many of these hotels have played host to celebrities, presidents, and society’s “who’s who.” Given that New York is one of the busiest cities in the world, it is only logical that these historic hotels move with the times.
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Once bearing the tag of one of the greatest hotels in the world, a visit to The Peninsula feels like a step back in time. It may not be the oldest hotel, NYC, but it does feel like it with its neo-classical elements and its Beaux-Arts exterior. Initially opened in 1905 as the Gotham Hotel, the hotel went into bankruptcy three years later.
It then changed ownership and became the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s headquarters in the 1930s. Unfortunately, they removed many of the hotel’s public rooms for this new venture. Another change of hands in 1979 infused new life into the hotel with the addition of a rooftop pool and fitness center. Plans to reopen as the Nova Park Hotel fell through, and the hotel closed once more. After another failed opening, the Peninsula Group finally took over the hotel and opened its doors in 1988.
Many of the hotel’s original elements still exist, such as the majestic two-story foyer, the dual staircase, and a gorgeous chandelier. However, you will find plenty of 21st-century creature comforts within its fold, such as an excellent spa. Today The Peninsula stands out as one of the best family hotels in New York City and one of the best spa hotels in New York City. It lives up to “The Peninsula Promise” of providing impeccable service to its clients.
The St. Regis
Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 55th Street, the grand St. Regis hotel was once the tallest structure in New York City. This historic hotel in NYC regales with its Beaux-Arts architecture and history. Built by one of America’s wealthiest men in 1904, the hotel was touted as one of the finest in the world. Today it remains one of the best hotels in Manhattan New York.
John Jacob Astor IV, the man behind the hotel, named the hotel after Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks. The 18-story building was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston. When construction began in 1901, many objected to such a tall building that would dwarf many others in the area. A few suits were filed against the hotel, but it prevailed and finally opened its doors in 1904. It cost a hefty sum of $5.5 million to build, an unprecedented amount at the time.
Since it first opened its doors, the hotel passed through various owners who added their touch to it. With each new ownership, this historic hotel in NYC expanded. After several refurbishments over the years, the hotel was once again transformed at the cost of over $90 million in 2013.
Walking into one of New York City’s historic hotels today will make it worth your while. The historic hotel is so elegantly designed that people walk into the legendary King Cole bar to have a chance to get inside. Elegance and luxury seep through every corner of the hotel. Even the standard guest rooms showcase 12-foot ceilings from which crystal chandeliers hang. In keeping with tradition, guests have the facility of a butler, irrespective of the room category.
The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection
New York City historic hotels are aplenty. You’ll find one in almost every part of the city. The Algonquin is another historic hotel in NYC located in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel is also designated a New York City Historic Landmark and traces its roots back to 1902.
Originally conceived as an apartment hotel, the Algonquin was later transformed into a traditional lodging establishment. The original name “The Puritan ” was also changed to “The Algonquin” to honor the Algonquin tribes, who were said to be the area’s first residents.
During its hey-dey, the hotel was renowned for hosting big names in literature and theater. The famous Algonquin Round Table members met regularly at the hotel for lunch. The hotel also holds the distinction of being the first prominent city hotel that allowed women to stay unaccompanied. Another exciting feature of the hotel is the tradition of keeping a resident cat. Male cats are named Hamlet, while the females are called Matilda.
Currently, the hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. In keeping with tradition, writers are often offered discounts for an autographed copy of their book. The hotel’s highlight is the wood-paneled Round Table Restaurant, redesigned to take you back in time.
The Pierre, A Taj Hotel
The Pierre Hotel, A Taj Hotel, is another of Manhattan’s historical landmarks, standing 160m tall. The hotel enjoys an enviable location at the intersection of Midtown and the Upper East Side, putting guests near many top-class destinations. Built on the famed Gerry mansion site, the hotel allowed for unrestricted views of Central Park.
Opened in the 1930s, the 41-story hotel features stately neo-Georgian accents, checkered marble floors, grand staircases, and a Rotunda with ornate murals. Initially modeled after Versailles by renowned architects Schultze and Weaver, the hotel maintains many original features. It cost a whopping $15 million to build and opened its doors to much fanfare in October 1930. Like many New York City’s historic hotels, The Pierre also went through several owners. It currently belongs to the Taj Group of Hotels.
In 2010 the hotel underwent a $100 million renovation to include Indian elements in its decor. However, there are certain traditions that the hotel has maintained, such as doormen out front and white-gloved elevator attendants. It is no wonder that this historic hotel in NYC continues to play host to the rich and famous.
The Warwick New York
Another New York historic hotel is The Warwick, which stands out as one of the best hotels in Hell’s Kitchen NYC. It may not be the oldest hotel in New York, but The Warwick would regale with its stories if walls could speak. Built by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1926 for his friends and soulmate, actress Marion Davies, the hotel exudes elegance and charm.
The 36-floor Renaissance Revival building had a specially designed floor for the actress. It was also home to Cary Grant for 12 years. Other notable celebrities who have walked through its doors are Elvis Presley, James Dean, The Beatles, and Elizabeth Taylor. A photographic display near the front desk showcases the important events and celebrities that have been part of its history.
Murals on 54, the hotel’s in-house restaurant, features murals of American illustrator Dean Cornwell that date to 1937. The beautiful murals were fully restored in 2004 and offered a quintessential Manhattan dining experience.
JW Marriott Essex House
JW Marriott Essex House is another historic hotel in NYC with stories. A member of the Historic Hotels of America, the hotel in Midtown Manhattan still flashes its rooftop sign installed in 1932! Construction on the hotel began a day after the infamous Wall Street Crash of 1929, but progress was slow. Given the delay in construction, neither of the names picked out for the hotel, Park Tower, or Sevilla Tower was used.
The hotel was taken over by the US Government’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1932. The iconic six-story sign on the roof was installed that same year. In 969, ownership of the hotel passed to Marriott Hotel but was later sold to Japan Air Lines and other owners before finally coming back to the group.
Entry to the hotel is through a gorgeous Art Deco entrance. Checkerboard stone floors, tray ceilings trimmed in gold, and mammoth black marble columns preserve the hotel’s rich history. The whole vibe is one of elegance and class. Added to all this is the unbeatable location, overlooking Central Park at the crossroads of Upper West Side and Midtown.
Gramercy Park Hotel
As with many New York City historic hotels, the Gramercy Park Hotel boasts a legendary guest list. This is where Humphrey Bogart married his first wife, John F. Kennedy lived for a few months, and Babe Ruth had a few drinks at the bar. Designed in the Renaissance Revival style on the site of the former homes of renowned architect Stanford White, the hotel dates back to 1925.
The hotel passed to new hands in 1958, but it was consequently resold in 1964. The Gramercy was a big draw for many, flaunting a bohemian character with velvet, tassels, and a color palette of rich jewel tones. In addition to this, its location in a quiet area, combined with the hotel’s reputation for discretion, also attracted musicians like Bob Marley and Bob Dylan.
Time has been kind to this New York historic hotel which continues to reinvent itself. The hotel’s famous Rose Bar brings in a young hip crowd. You may get to rub shoulders with a celebrity if you’re early. The Gramercy Terrace restaurant and Jade Bar also bring in the crowds.
The Redbury New York
Previously known as the Martha Washington Hotel, The Redbury New York also makes the list of the oldest hotel NYC. Located in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, the hotel was built from 1901 to 1903. Opened as a “women’s only hotel,” the hotel had full occupancy on its opening, with 200 on the waiting list. Designated as a historical landmark, the Renaissance Revival style hotel welcomes all genders today.
From being originally named the Women’s Hotel to the Martha Washington Hotel, The Redbury New York Hotel got its name in early 2016 when it passed to new owners. Flaunting high ceilings and large public places, the hotel is one of the more affordable hotels in NYC. You’ll find some pretty functional rooms with full-length mirrors, Bluetooth music systems, and even an old gramophone speaker.
Martinique New York on Broadway, Curio Collection by Hilton
Martinique New York on Broadway is in the French Renaissance style. It can safely be classified as the oldest hotel New York since it dates back to the 19th century. Built in 1897-98 by William R.H. Martin, the hotel was initially designed to be an apartment house. However, the location was more suitable for a hotel. This resulted in the expansion of the original property.
The brilliant, towering skyscraper that came up showcased some of the finest rooms in New York City. In the beginning, it housed long-term guests, but when Pennsylvania Station and Macy’s new flagship department store were built, things changed. By 1910, it was one of the most elite hotels in New York.
Over the years, however, the hotel’s sheen wore off when Times Square became the new hub of activity. Eventually, the hotel’s appeal fell so low that it served as a welfare hotel from 1973 until 1988 and housed over 1,400 children. Since 1998 the hotel has undergone several ownership changes. It has finally come under the Hilton umbrella; as part of the Curio Collection. Under the Hilton brand, the hotel has seen a revival to once again stand amongst some of the best hotels in Manhattan.
Omni Berkshire Place
Owned and operated by Omni Hotels & Resorts, the Omni Berkshire Place is another New York historic hotel. Designed by famed architects Warren & Wetmore, the hotel opened its doors in 1926 as The Berkshire Hotel. As part of the Terminal City project, the Classical Revival-style hotel was created to provide guests with a residential townhouse vibe.
This hotel, too, has played host to many famous names such as Alfred Hitchcock and Rodgers and Hammerstein. It was in this hotel that one of the finest musicals, “Oklahoma,” was written. The Rodgers and Hammerstein suite pays tribute to this milestone. The hotel also had an exclusive private dining club known as the Elbow Room. It later became the Barberry Room, one of the most exclusive restaurants in New York.
The Berkshire Hotel also passed through various owners who added their touches. Dunfey Hotels, the owners since 1977, acquired the Omni Hotels chain in 1983, which resulted in a change of name. A renovation in 1995 brought the number of rooms down to 395 from the original 415 rooms. The downsizing resulted in adding many extras to each room. Due to the pandemic, the hotel temporarily closed. It reopened in October 2021.
Ever since The Plaza opened in the late 19th century, it has been a New York icon. Frequented by the who’s who of society, this historic hotel in NYC upholds its symbolic status. For over a century, the hotel has been the New York hotel to see and be seen at. It boasts a guest list that will leave you starry-eyed. From heads of countries to Hollywood’s darlings, the hotel has seen many famous guests grace its hallways.
The first Plaza Hotel opened its doors to the public on October 1, 1890. Standing 8 stories high with 400 rooms, the hotel was considered “one of the most attractive public houses in the world.” However, despite this tag, it was not very profitable.
With a boom in the hotel industry during the early 20th century, the hotel passed into new hands. In 1905, the original hotel was demolished, and a new grand hotel took its place. The new 800-room Plaza hotel opened on October 1, 1907, amidst much fanfare in the most fashionable residential section of NYC. Had the old building been retained, the Plaza would probably be the oldest hotel in NYC. Since then, The Plaza has had several owners and gone through several makeovers.
Time hasn’t taken away from the design, which continues to woo guests. Dramatic chandeliers in the grand lobby, tall ceilings, and huge windows add to the hotel’s allure. Not to mention the hotel’s famous guest, Eloise, brought to life in the pages of Kay Thompson’s book in 1955. Staying at one of New York City historic hotels will undoubtedly leave an impression.