This story was written in collaboration with Forbes Finds. Forbes Finds covers products we think you’ll love. Featured products are independently selected and linked to for your convenience. If you buy something using a link on this page, Forbes may receive a small share of that sale.
Big hotel chains can be great—you know exactly what you’ll be getting. But in a city like New York that throbs with creative energy, there’s a definite appeal to staying in a more indie, smaller, even quirky place. But one with the best service and amenities, of course. Here are some of the best boutique hotels the city has to offer.
Crosby Street Hotel
Firmdale Hotels have a huge cult following in their native UK, where they’re known for their sophisticated whimsy. (Or is that whimsical sophistication?) Their first American hotel, on the cool edge of SoHo, has 86 rooms over 11 floors. Of course, they were designed by Kit Kemp in her signature style of layered patterns and playful touches. And guests have access to a rarity in New York—a private leafy garden.
Following the success of the Crosby Street Hotel, Firmdale moved into Midtown a few years ago with the Whitby. This time, Kemp took a fishing town in northern Britain as her inspiration. You have to use your imagination to see that, because what is immediately apparent is that it’s densely layered in sumptuous materials, playful in its design sensibility and luxurious to the extreme. This one has 86 rooms on 16 floors, making it even more private.
HGU New York
Since 1905, the striking Beaux Arts building that is HGU New York has hosted guests from around the world. The ornate plaster ceilings must have seen all sorts of parties and roguish behavior, but the 90 rooms and suites offer luxury and modern convenience. There’s a compelling art collection in the rooms and corridors.
The High Line Hotel
The 60 rooms and suites of the High Line Hotel occupy the redbrick General Theological Seminary complex—once the estate of A Visit from St. Nicholas poet Clement Clarke Moore and a registered landmark. The gardens and buildings behind the hotel still function as an Episcopalian seminary, with the students taking some of their meals in hotel facilities. But the hotel itself hits all the 2019 buttons: cool neighborhood (West Chelsea), food trucks outside, Intelligentsia coffee, Shinola bicycles, faux-rotary phones. The front garden bar—which helped popularize the frozen Negroni a few years ago—is now a homage to the late psychic and artist Ingo Swann.
Just about to celebrate its third anniversary, 11 Howard has become a cultural nexus in the most compelling part of SoHo. It’s popular among the fashion set, both for overnight stays in the stylish, Danish-style guest rooms (courtesy of SPACE Copenhagen) and for the nightlife scene at the Blond and the French Michelin cuisine at the perpetually packed Le Coucou.
This downtown hotel manages to combine a sense of history, an air of modernity and aura of timelessness. That’s a difficult trifecta to pull off, and one that very few hotels do. It occupies a landmark Queen Anne building from 1881, the height of New York’s early Gilded Age. There’s a palpable sense of cultural history, as the building saw the debut of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1871 and was home to an establishment called Clinton Hall that housed an expensive literary collection and hosted writers like Edgar Allan Poe. The interiors, by noted hospitality firm Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, are sensitive to that history without turning it into kitsch or silly nostalgia. The 287 high-ceilinged guest rooms kept their original-style moldings and understated period chandeliers. The hotel’s food and beverage outlets are operated by two of New York’s luminary chefs, Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally.