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NYC.com's Guide to Boutique Hotels in New York City

Welcome to the wonderful world of stylish and contemporary living you can enjoy when you book a room in one of New York City's fabulous boutique hotels. If you like unique accommodations, funky interior design, luxurious amenities, and high tech extras, then let NYC.com show you the way to a number of cooler-than-average hotel locations in the city that are sure to make your visit here more fun, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, one you will remember fondly for many years to come.

Of course the fantastic sights, sounds, and entertainment of New York City are what draw people here by the millions year after year. But we also recognize that for many travelers, be they here on business or pleasure, finding that truly special place to stay is really what matters most of all. With that in mind, NYC.com's Guide to Boutique Hotels in New York City is meant not to tell you what to check out in the city, but where to check in. We want to let you know about a variety of colorful places to stay which will spark your fantasy, entertain your senses, and in some cases, enable you to instantly experience a particular lifestyle or interesting ambiance the moment you walk through those hotel lobby doors.

Our Guide to Boutique Hotels focuses on four main themes and gives you information below about:
Boutique Hotels – What Are They?
History and Types of Boutique Hotels
What To Expect At A Boutique Hotel
NYC.com's Guide To Boutique Hotels


Boutique Hotels—What Are They?

Boutique is a term popularized in North America and Great Britain to refer to unique, highly stylish, luxurious hotels that stand in bold and colorful contrast to the more standardized setting and uniform accommodations which we know from popular hotel chains. While the larger established hotel industry strives to provide hotel offerings which are highly functional for huge numbers of travelers, independently owned boutique hotels cater to the particular tastes, needs, and desires of certain subsets of people traveling who are interested in booking accommodations that boast a special aesthetic, highly personalized services, and usually luxurious and high tech amenities.

Most of us know that boutique is a word for a small specialist upscale shop, as opposed to a large department store. Using that as our analogy, we can easily see that a boutique hotel is likewise a small upscale hotel, usually with fewer than 150 rooms. Although by definition considerably smaller than mainstream hotels, due to the popularity of the boutique style, many of the larger hotel chains are using the boutique label and adopting boutique attributes in their styles and services nowadays, and incorporating them in a very large way. W Hotels, Kimpton Hotels, and Ian Schrager properties would be examples of these.

Typical boutique hotels feature a certain theme, interior design style, and due in part to their smallness, they often pop up in a unique location in the city you're visiting. Frequent visitors to New York City know that the majority of major hotel chains here have properties in the heart of the city in Midtown Manhattan. However, the boutique hotels listed in our guideline below are found in interesting locations all over Manhattan. We additionally include one special one, the Hotel Le Bleu, which can be found in a particularly trendy section of Brooklyn. So when you think boutique hotel, think of a small, unique, luxurious, highly stylized and intimate place to stay in New York City, and you're all set.

History and Types of Boutique Hotels In New York City

Boutique hotels emerged on the contemporary scene in parallel fashion in Great Britain and North America a few decades ago, and can now be found in countries all over the world. In North America Ian Schrager is generally credited in starting the trend with the opening of Morgans in Manhattan in 1984, and Bill Kimpton also became an early pioneer of boutique hotels by finding buildings to convert to hotels that didn't meet brand hotel standards. Hence an aesthetic was born.

Over the course of their recent history and their rise in popularity, boutique hotels now come in a wide variety of types, ranging from the ridiculously luxurious for business executives and the jet setting cultural glitterati, to the affordable chic places that are beloved by travelers looking for a type of bohemian boutique atmosphere but without the hefty price tag.

There are those that cater to the health-conscious traveler, The Muse for example, which feature things like beauty bars, spa treatment centers, and personal fitness trainers on their full-time staff, while others might offer a peaceful, zen-like ambience for people who need a break from the hectic commotion of the city outside their hotel window and time to meditate.

There are boutique hotels as well which pride themselves on a particularly interior design or color scheme as Hotel Azure does throughout the hotel (art deco being a prevalent style often on display), or they may base their entire identity on a specific theme, such as a famous movie, intellectual interest, or ethnicity in the way many restaurants align themselves.

Although the type or style of boutique hotel you're talking about can vary greatly, similarities do exist and certain expectations do need to be met if a hotel is going to use the boutique label and to successfully attract and accommodate the clientele who choose to book a room there.

What To Expect At A Boutique Hotel

Most boutique hotels in New York City see their raison d'être in going beyond the functional purpose of providing a clean bed and bathroom in order to nurture and feed the aspirations and desired self-image of their guests, but in doing so they also have to give in to what their guests expect in a boutique hotel.

Look for candles in the posh lounges, leather and velvet furniture, and dramatic lighting that creates a special mood or vibe. Expect artful wall hangings, creative floor designs, and unusual and/or expensive fixtures. Guest rooms or suites are usually fitted with advanced phone systems, Wi-Fi, flat screen televisions and video on demand.

Since they are typically smaller, and therefore accommodate a much smaller number of guests, boutique hotel guests expect highly personalized service, with friendly staff who greet you by name, rooms which vary from one to another which can be changed at a moment's notice, personalized book, CD, and DVD collections in your room, and usually incredibly swank lounges and bars which are often popular places frequented by well-informed residents of the city who adore the trendiness and ambience of that particular boutique property.

In conclusion, New York's boutique hotels cater to the unique needs, tastes, and desires of their unique clientele, creating a wonderful nice product for the discerning traveler.

NYC.com Recommended Boutique Hotels in New York City

We highly recommend the following boutique hotels, many of which are well known to New York City residents and some of which have earned legendary reputations among frequent travelers to the Big Apple. In contrast to our Family-Friendly Guide, Pet-friendly Guide, and Great for Business Travelers Guide, our list of recommended boutique hotels is intended to highlight the distinctive attributes of these special gems which are designed to offer you an entertaining and extra special hotel experience during your stay here:

Hotel Plaza Athenee
Upper East Side
Hotel Plaza Athenee
For visitors who can afford the five star price and desire to stay at one of the absolute finest luxury boutique hotels in Manhattan, The Plaza Athénée is just the ticket. Located in the posh Upper East Side of Manhattan, the quiet elegance, dignified European style, and topnotch service here are not to be outdone. The rooms are beautifully appointed, with French furniture, mirrored closet doors, and super plush beds, and by New York boutique hotel standards, the bathrooms are simply huge. The stunning gold-hued dining room of the in-house Arabelle serves fabulous French-American cuisine, and the hotel's Bar Seine is famous for its exotic atmosphere and eclectic décor. First-class all around.

Night Hotel
Midtown West
Night Hotel
On the Preferred Boutique hotel registry, Night bills itself as an exercise in Modern Gothic Gotham, a study in the contrast of black and white set against the Technicolor background of New York's Times Square. As a ravishingly dark and beautiful luxury boutique hotel, its 70 guestrooms present the look and feel of private residences, each outfitted with sleekly sophisticated black and white décor and furnishings that evoke a sense of mystery, intimacy, and contemporary sophistication. Night's unique triplex penthouse suite at the top is a frequent setting for photoshoots and exquisite private events. Night's amenities for the mere mortals staying below include valet, bellhop, and concierge services, a 24-hour per day multilingual staff, and an in-house restaurant aptly named Nightlife. To invoke the lyrics of Pat Benatar with a twist, you'll want to stay here because the night belongs to lovers and to those who are into a luxurious boutique noir setting.

Hotel Giraffe
Murray Hill
Hotel Giraffe
Hotel Giraffe, located in one of New York's most fashionable addresses and desirable neighborhoods stands out as a first-class luxury boutique hotel with rich lavish colors and textures of the Moderne Period, providing guests with a sophisticated setting reminiscent of the 1920's and 1930's. Deluxe rooms here feature French doors, European style balconies, antique velveteen upholstered chairs, and ivory diamond-quilted satin bedcovers, which lend each a touch of glamour and elegance. The neighborhood, also referred to as Rose Hill, is an enclave between Midtown to the north and the Flatiron district to the south, which puts guests here in close proximity to many Zagat top-rated eateries. Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Union Square Café, and Gramercy Tavern are all within easy walking distance.

Dream Downtown
Chelsea
Dream Hotel
Opened in 2004 by socialite-hotelier Vikram Chatwal, this 13-story hotel provides 208 guestrooms and 20 suites, all of which represent the quintessence of contemporary, almost futuristic interior design. In additional to all the amenities a luxurious boutique hotel has to offer, Dream features a 1950's style rooftop lounge, Ava, named after movie star Ava Gardner, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Times Square, Columbus Circle and the Hudson River. From the lobby you can take the glass elevator down to the Chopra Center New York, which provides Ayurvedic healing arts as taught by Deepak Chopra. Dream is also home to the Fellini-inspired restaurant, Serafina, designed by the Rockwell Group and serving upscale Italian cuisine. Dream is a truly special boutique hotel selection if there ever was one.

The Avalon
Midtown East
Vincci Avalon
A unique European style boutique hotel located just minutes away from the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Broadway, this luxury hotel showcases European grandeur, boutique intimacy, and top of the line business amenities. Guests use words like sublime, tasteful and elegant and speak highly of the stately Avalon, noting that as a boutique hotel it could be considered a cousin to the Dylan Hotel mentioned above. Amenities include a library room for all guests, discounted passes to nearby Boom Gym, multilingual concierge services, valet parking, as well as wireless internet in its distinguished lobby area.

The Muse
Midtown West
The Muse
This Times Square beauty, a stylish four star boutique hotel, features 200 uniquely styled guestrooms which are remarkably large by traditional boutique or even New York standards. The Muse attracts guests largely due to its comfort, freshly creative design, and the dozens of amenities it offers its guests which include Wi-Fi and high-speed internet access, complimentary yoga accessories, the Yoga channel on every TV, in-room spa services, and pet-friendly policies. The lighted make-up mirrors are always a big hit with its female guests, and overall visitors here would say that The Muse has a certain contemporary feminine flair. It's almost as if in staying at the Muse you've literally entered the pages of Vogue magazine.

Hotel On Rivington
Lower East Side
Hotel on Rivington
The Hotel Rivington is located in the vibrant Lower East Side of Manhattan, which one hundred years ago was actually the most densely populated neighborhood on earth. This striking boutique hotel's main claim to fame today is that it offers floor-to-ceiling windows in each of its 120 stylish guestrooms. Many of the rooms here boast uniquely-designed bathrooms which are equipped with both glass shower stalls and oversized Japanese hot tubs. Easily spotted from the street due to its shimmering, 20-story glass-paneled façade, its is arguably one of the hippest boutique hotels on our entire list, with its famous Thor restaurant serving some of the finest cuisine in all of New York. In addition there are in-room spa amenities, terraces and balconies in 2/3 of its rooms, tempurpedic mattresses, and complimentary newspapers dropped at your door every day of your stay there.

Bryant Park Hotel
Midtown West
Bryant Park Hotel
The Bryant Park Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel centrally located in midtown Manhattan, earned its reputation by being the first exclusive luxury designer hotel. Combining luxury and first-class service, it features 129 oversized rooms with marble baths, deep soaking tubs, and a separate shower. Beds are fitted with 400-thread Egyptian linen, goose down duvets and cashmere blankets, and leather headboards, offering sleeping comfort that is truly unmatchable. In addition to B&B Italia custom designed furnishings and hand woven rugs in its classy rooms, the Bryant Park Hotel's Cellar Bar provides a vibrant setting frequented by a fashionable crowd, live DJs, and equally frequent celebrity sightings. In terms of luxury boutiques in New York City, definitely a happening place to be.

The Maritime Hotel
Chelsea
The Maritime Hotel
The Maritime hotel is a hip luxury boutique hotel located steps away from some of New York's most chic boutiques and coolest nightclubs. Peek through its signature porthole windows and you will see guest rooms which resemble luxurious ship cabins, with burnished teak paneling, sea-blue drapes and bed accents; looking out of them there is the Hudson River skyline to admire. The Maritime owners, famous nightlife impresarios Eric Goode and Sean Macpherson, deliver a jet set crowd to its public venues, La Bottega and Matsuri restaurants, and the fabulous Hiro nightclub, where a regular schedule of top class acts perform on stage. Many discerning guests who stay here recognize that in terms of the luxury boutique hotel format, the Maritime gets the formula right. And by the way, the gym is in the basement.

The Alex
Midtown East
The Alex
Opened in 2004, The Alex heralds a new generation of luxury boutique hotels, with impeccable guest rooms, serene suites, and a welcoming, urban contemporary style environment. Its colorful collection of 203 guestrooms, suites, and apartments, beautifully designed by David Rockwell include T1 lines, flatscreen LCD TVs, limestone baths and fully equipped gourmet Poggen Pohl kitchens. While perhaps not as glamorous as other luxury boutique hotels, its bamboo floors, clean lines, soft velour curtains and fresh orchids give it a tasteful, understated beauty and elegance that the many guests who walk through its doors appreciate.

60 Thompson
SoHo
60 Thompson
Set in the center of Manhattan's SoHo District, 60 Thompson is a small 100-room luxury boutique hotel designed by famed interior designer Thomas O'Brien. It earns its high reputation based on its subtle, sophisticated style and exceptional service. The in-house restaurant here, Kittichai, draws New Yorkers, international foodies, even top chefs to its tables. Guests here enjoy its modern chic environment. A real treat is to head up to its guests and members-only rooftop lounge and take in an aerial view of one of New York's trendiest neighborhoods. Bohemian chic meets art house wise meets quiet yet radical elegance.

Dylan Hotel
Midtown East
Dylan Hotel
In contrast to the sometimes over-the-top hip designs currently prevalent in the high-end boutique hotel scene here, the Dylan Hotel in Midtown East differentiates itself from others by providing a timeless look for the property that oozes opulence while preserving the landmark nature of the architecture of its original 1903 structure. Dylan's interior, executed by Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International, displays an understated elegance in the hotel's public areas and features rich fabrics, Carrara marble sinks and American walnut fixtures and furnishings. Its 107 spacious guest suites are best appreciated by discerning travelers who enjoy classic style, craftsmanship, and the intimate atmosphere of a truly luxurious boutique hotel. Premium guest service, packaged in unique architecture, hip design and stylish décor everywhere you look.

Library Hotel
Midtown East
Library Hotel
Designed to feel more like a private club than hotel, the Library Hotel is so named because each of the Library's richly appointed accommodations are individually adorned with art and a collection of books that relate to the room's unique theme. Heady guests enjoy coming to this elegant boutique hotel because it's essentially a concept hotel, and the marriage of luxurious living surrounded by great works of literature make them feel like they are in the peace and tranquility of academia. It also provides loads of amenities to its guests: bottled spring water, Belgian chocolates, high speed internet access, complimentary selections from their DVD library of the American Film Institute's top 100 films. To top it all off, guests don't just exercise their brains during their stay here, the hotel also provides you with complimentary privileges at the nearby New York Sports Club.

Hudson Hotel
Midtown West
Hudson Hotel
Presenting itself as the ultimate lifestyle hotel for the 21st century, this brand new deluxe Ian Shrager hotel was designed by Philip Starck and instantly captivates guests with its 40-foot high ivy-colored lobby, an enormous indoor/outdoor private park, and a ceiling fresco by world-famous painter Francesco Clemente. Despite the grandeur of its architectural design elements, the Hudson Hotel is incredibly chic and cool while at the same time surprisingly affordable. Its chartreuse-lit escalators leads guests to the floors above, where you see a breathtaking view of take a guess— the Hudson River. Hudson's friendly staff and professional service make this a good choice for any kind of fan of luxurious contemporary boutique hotels.

Hotel Azure
SoHo
Hotel Azure
Located in New York's trendy SoHo district, Hotel Azure blends boutique chic with excellent service. Rooms at this European contemporary style hotel are bright cozy hideaways and offer guests splendid relief away from the hustle and bustle of the often crowded Midtown commercial craziness. The hotel name is symbolized by the decorative, blue-colored pillows in the rooms, which also feature 32" flat panel LCD TVs, blow dryers, mini fridges, ceramic blue-tiled showers, and complimentary wireless internet. With its crisp and refined accommodations and its convenient location, you definitely won't miss home during your stay at this lovely boutique hotel.

Hotel Le Bleu
Park Slope
Hotel Le Bleu
This brand new ultramodern and sleek boutique hotel presents dazzling contemporary design with all the latest high-tech gadgetry and amenities one expects of a Manhattan luxury hotel, but located in Brooklyn's trendy Park Slope neighborhood. Le Bleu boasts spacious rooms, plush pillows, and very nicely designed glass enclosed showers. The blue-themed interior is minimalist cool, with lots of mirrored glass illuminated by blue light bulbs. A number of the stylish guestrooms face west and offer splendid views of Manhattan across the Hudson River. Located in posh Park Slope, visitors to this hotel will find it relatively easy to head to Manhattan via subway.

Casablanca Hotel
Midtown West
Casablanca Hotel
For years the Casablanca, an intimate European style family-owned boutique hotel, has been a popular favorite among the best Times Square hotels in New York City. Restored in a magnificent Moroccan décor, its 48 luxury rooms and suites are designed for comfort with meticulous attention to detail, with archways, ceiling fans, ornamental moldings, unique tapestries, paintings and murals just some of the authentic and original details that grace the place. Inspired by the glamour and romance of the movie Casablanca, it is home to Rick's Café, where a repertoire of live piano selections can be heard Friday evenings that conjure images of the classic movie. All rooms are equipped with two-line speakerphones, hi-speed internet access, Cable TV, and mini bars, and the hotel service is well-known to be first-rate.

On a final note we would like to remind visitors to NYC.com we offer a fully comprehensive guide of New York Hotels as well as an entire Visitor Guide to New York.
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