New York City is populated with the highest concentration of movie, film, television, theater, and sports celebrities of any city in the US. Celebrity sightings, film and television shoots on the streets, and star-studded gatherings in glitzy clubs are such common occurrences that to New York City residents they are almost no big deal. If you want to start up a conversation with anybody on the streets of Manhattan all you have to do is ask them what famous celebrities they have seen or met and you will usually hear at least a dozen notable names mentioned in laundry list fashion.
The big difference between celebrity life in New York City and other media meccas, such as Los Angeles, is that stars don't just stay in hotels and visit New York for work; a large number of them own an apartment or house and live here. In fact, given the huge number of celebrities out and about in New York, many celebrities who live here do so because they actually feel like they can experience a degree of anonymity here, go shopping at stores and supermarkets, and enjoy dining out with friends at restaurants like real people do. No matter how big a star you may be elsewhere, in New York City you are in a sparkling universe of celebrities. And that provides any star a certain degree of coverage.
"Attempt To Be Cool Rule"
Since celebrity sightings happen so often in the city, New Yorkers have a kind of "attempt to be cool" ethos when encountering them, believing that celebrities have a fundamental right to go about their daily business without being hounded by paparazzi, overwhelmed with autograph requests, or followed around by fans feasting on their celebrity status.
Not to say that it is impossible to find yourself in conversation with a famous movie star or television personality. But it is much more common to see somebody famous on the street or in a shop, walk past them, and then speed dial a friend on your cell phone seconds later. You skip the greeting, and blurt out "Hey you'll never guess who I just saw down the street . . ." For a New Yorker that is the typical way a celebrity sighting plays itself out. New Yorkers may not actually be cool in the given situation, but the rule here is definitely "attempt to be cool". That is the distinction.
At NYC.com we believe in this how-to-deal-with-celebrities ethos, but we also think that where celebrities like to stay when traveling to New York City is of undeniable cultural interest to visitors traveling here. It's not just people who are celebrities in this city, many of the hotels where celebrities stay enjoy celebrity status as well.
Even if you don't encounter a single famous celebrity while staying at one of the following hotels, at least you stayed there, and maybe felt like a celebrity yourself as tucked yourself into bed at night in the city that never sleeps.
Places Where Celebrities Like To Stay In New York City
A stunning fusion of modern design with stylish Oriental flair, Mandarin Oriental, New York presents 248 elegant guestrooms and suites — all with breathtaking views of Manhattan and Five-Star hospitality. Luxurious amenities include Asiate, the hotel’s elegant restaurant, Mobar, created by noted interior designer, Tony Chi, and the Lobby Lounge with dramatic views of Central Park. It boasts a 14,500-square-foot Mandarin Oriental Spa, the largest of its kind in Manhattan, and a state-of-the-art fitness center with a 75-foot lap pool. Located in Columbus Circle’s Time Warner Center, the Mandarin Oriental is in an idyllic location just steps away from world-class dining, shopping and most importantly, the Broadway Theater District. In terms of celebrities, the Mandarin Oriental has its own International Club of Celebrities who stay there on a regular basis including among others: Sigourney Weaver, Dennis Hopper, I.M. Pei, Lance Armstrong, Helen Mirren, Jerry Hall, Jane Seymour, and Liam Neeson.
Brilliantly positioned on Madison Avenue, it is a true New York landmark—a showcase of great art, a purveyor of privacy and a sanctuary of refined taste. Guests feel truly ensconced in an elegant private residential atmosphere and the exclusive ambiance of an Upper East Side pied-à-terre. Deluxe rooms have entry foyers, spacious closets, and small pantries. Luxury suites offer stylish separate bedrooms, elegant furnishings and views of beautiful interior courtyards. The celebrities who stay here are definitely from the ranks of the rich, the powerful, and the famous—Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson, prefer the Carlyle, as do presidents and heads of state (JFK had an apartment here), even Lady Diana booked a suite here. At the Carlyle you're definitely in big time Celebrity Land. Additional Hotel Highlights include the Café Carlyle, The Gallery Restaurant, and Sense Spa.
Celebrities book the Hotel Gansevoort on a regular basis, partly because the hotel offers a pretty retreat from the urban metropolis, combining downtown chic with uptown luxury in what is generally thought of as a gritty Meatpacking District location. Its 187 spacious guestrooms and 23 stylish suites are sophisticated yet minimalist in their layout, and feature a colorful array of neutrals and grays shot through with a splash of blackberry, lending them a softness and lightness you feel upon entering them. Other features include richly textured walls, ceramic interiors, custom designed stainless steel sinks and Carrara marble. To top it all off, there is a 45-foot heated outdoor pool with underwater lights and music open 365 days a year and a beautiful rooftop bar and lounge with landscaped garden. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have lounged poolside here. Jessica Simpson was spotted at a party here before her breakup with Nick Lachey. Jay-Z, Lindsay Lohan, Nicky Hilton like hanging out here. Need we say more?
Soho Grand Hotel
The SoHo Grand Hotel is located in the heart of the exciting SoHo neighborhood, where 19th-century industrial buildings with ornate cast-iron facades house chic galleries, theaters, restaurants and shops. Famous guests such as Kevin Spacey, k.d. lang and Naomi Campbell have stayed here. The guestrooms are splashed with palettes of grays and coffee tones and are as eclectic as the neighborhood, with eight-foot picture windows showcasing the unique downtown perspective. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement of the late 1800s, they include draftsman desks and nightstands styled like potter's tables. Why do celebrity beauties Heidi Klum and Gwyneth Paltrow prefer to stay here? Maybe its because the rooms also come complete with Italian Frette linens and robes, fancy Blisslabs, Privé bathroom amenities, and entertainment centers with CDs of artists who have stayed at the hotel.
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 celebrities, especially those attending New York's annual Fashion Week in September, or dining in the famous in-house Japanese restaurant, Koi.
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. Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera have stayed at this SoHo boutique hotel, with its members-only rooftop bar. 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 the 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.
As one of the first grand hotels to combine luxurious elegance with a myriad of amenities and services, the Waldorf-Astoria has been world renowned for over a century. With a reputation for unparalleled hospitality and service, the Art Deco landmark beckons New Yorkers and visitors alike. Since 1893, the Waldorf=Astoria name has epitomized the quintessential luxury hotel experience. Each spacious, individually decorated guestroom and suite offers a rewarding union of timeless elegance and up to the moment convenience, luxurious comfort, and classic sophistication. Innovation and tradition meet at The Waldorf-Astoria's celebrated restaurants, bars, and lounges. From a classic steakhouse to a progressive American bistro to a three star French restaurant, the food and beverage venues of The Waldorf-Astoria entice diners with their creativity and culinary distinction. A meal at hotel's Peacock Alley restaurant, recently renovated at a cost of over $5 million underscores just how fabulous this property is. The US president stays at the Waldorf-Astoria, and it’s the first choice of heads of state and dignitaries from around the world. An obvious choice for celebrity guests, Paris and Nicky Hilton practically grew up here.
The Plaza hotel offers 282 distinctive guestrooms, including 152 pied-à-terres, which boast the largest square footage of any luxury property in New York. From the sumptuous décor to the impeccable white glove service, The Plaza is an extraordinary hotel that offers its guests every indulgence. Amenities include a world-class retail collection featuring exclusive boutiques and purveyors of fine food, as well as health and wellness facilities to include a Caudalie Spa, Fitness Center by Radu, and Warren Tricomi Salon. The first hotel in New York to be designated as a city landmark, celebrity guests over the years have included the Beatles, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Groucho Marx. The Plaza has also been featured in movies such as Crocodile Dundee, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Plaza Suite, and Home Alone.
The Mercer is SoHo's foremost luxury boutique hotel and the first hotel of its kind to offer an authentic taste of loft living. Often described as sister hotel to Hollyood's famed Chateau Marmont and the ocean front classic The Raleigh in Miami, it is no surprise that it appeals to so many celebrities who want to bath in its large oversized marble tubs, to dine in the 200-seat Mercer Kitchen overseen by world-famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or to relax in its wonderfully laid-back lounges, casually looking around to see what other notables happen to be staying there. It also was the location where Russell Crowe, angry over being unable to dial Australia, went berserk and attacked a Mercier concierge with a telephone. This intimate boutique hotel, housed in a 6-story brick Romanesque revival building dating from 1890, was originally built for John Astor II.
The Sherry-Netherland boasts luxurious guest rooms and suites, all individually decorated, with high ceilings, marble bathrooms, generous closets. All rooms come with complimentary continental breakfast served in the restaurant, complimentary high-speed internet access, a welcome gift of Belgian chocolates, fresh flowers in the rooms, VCR's & DVD players, Aveda amenities in all the bathrooms, complimentary soda's and mineral waters. The staff of concierges will be happy to arrange theatre tickets, transportation, restaurant reservations, or to assist you in any way to make your stay memorable. With its ideal Fifth Avenue location, just across from Central Park, you are in the center of it all, just steps from Fifth Avenue shopping, famous restaurants, attractions and the best New York has to offer. The hotel also features the legendary Harry Cipriani restaurant, recently reopened after a lengthy renovation, which attracts its share of movie moguls, Euro-models, and A-list actors on a nightly basis.
The Alex Hotel
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 celebrity guests who walk through its doors appreciate, from NBA stars like Dennis Rodman to the week by week A-list guests invited to appear on the David Letterman show.
The Hotel 17 is a charming hotel, conveniently located downtown in the Gramercy Park District. Rooms are decorated eclectically. Entertainment Weekly voted Hotel 17 in the top 10 coolest movie locations. Madonna, as well as many other artists, models, and actresses and actors have done photo shoots in many of the hotel's rooms. Many of the rooms are considered to be "miniature studios" by many world-renowned photographers and movie directors. A few years ago, Woody Allen filmed his movie "Manhattan Murder Mystery" at Hotel 17. Hotel 17's reigning diva, Amanda Lepore, has done a vast array of music videos for David Bowie and Dandy Warhols, among many other artists. She has done countless numbers of photo shoots for the renowned "David LaChappelle." The hotel's eclectically decorated guest rooms create small worlds of unique elegance, charm and character. World famous, loved by many and admired by all, staying at Hotel 17 is an experience unlike any other.
Gramercy Park Hotel
This luxury Manhattan hotel has been created by Ian Schrager’s long time partners, Michael Overington and Anda Andrei with a little help from some of Ian’s friends, including the painter Julian Schnabel. The bold, individualistic spirit of the public spaces at the Gramercy Park Hotel is carried on into the 185 guest rooms and suites here in Manhattan. They are generously scaled and beautifully appointed. Each is different with its own unique layout, vivid Renaissance color palette inspired by Raphael and distinctive collection of art and objects. Imported hand tufted rugs with deep rose velvet drapery on custom bronze rods create a beautiful palette with the mahogany window enclosures and wooden blinds. The Private Roof Club and Landscaped Garden here is not merely a bar on the roof. It is a new genre of entertainment, akin to a salon or drawing room providing the comfort, privacy and intimacy of home. Famous for its celebrity studded parties, Anna Hathaway, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Phillip Seymour, Halle Berry, Donald Trump and many more have partied here.
The Bowery Hotel
The 17-story Bowery Hotel is on the trendiest block of the hip and revitalized Bowery. With sun-drenched rooms and spectacular city views, the hotel enjoys exposures on all four sides. Designed and built as a classic New York residential loft building, the Bowery Hotel offers the quintessential New York experience, sophisticated and timeless. The Bowery Hotel has become more and more of a celebrity hotspot of late. Jennifer Lopez threw a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband, Marc Anthony here recently, as did Demi Moore for her beau Ashton Kutcher's 30th birthday. At the intersection of East 3rd Street, there are dozens of trendy restaurants, clubs and boutiques within close walking distance. Nolita, SoHo, the Lower East Side and East Village are just steps away, as the incredibly hip exclusive basement club, Socialista, frequented by stars such as Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, Sting, Bruce Willis and countless other A-list stars.
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Restaurants Where Celebrities Like To Dine
Keeping in mind our "Attempt To Be Cool Rule" from above, one should also remember that many of the establishments listed here are exclusive and usually somewhat pricey venues, so remember to reserve early.
Waverly Inn and Garden
The Waverly Inn is as glamorous as ever, with the nice mainstream menu of traditional American fare by Chef John DeLucie, and frequent visitations by New York celebrity glitterati. One nice thing about having Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter as a business partner: securing a reservation is simply a near impossibility. Go ahead and phone, if you wish; instead, you might just show up at the door and plead your case. Consequently, if you find it a bit difficult to get a table here, simply claim you live around the corner and are thrilled to be back at the Inn. Neighborhood clout sometimes works. On any given night you can spot virtually any star dining here, Brad Pitt, Alex Rodriguez, Kate Moss, Steve Martin, Ann Hathaway, George Lucas, the list goes on and on.
Nobu is at the cutting edge of bringing the innovative "new style Japanese cooking" to New York City. Named after 59-year-old Japanese owner Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Nobu started out as a Beverly Hills sushi shop. But with the encouragement and support of actor Robert De Niro, Matsuhisa became the emperor of his own restaurant empire, establishing 15 branches all over the world. In New York City it is his Tribeca chain where celebrities, such as Madonna, Cameron Diaz , Tom Cruise and Mariah Carey, come for yellowtail sashimi, king salmon, squid pasta, and tasty Japanese desserts. A Kate Winslet quote leaves no doubt as to the gastronomic experience in store for you at Nobu: "The food at Nobu can be described in two ways-- quite simply heaven on earth and sex on a plate!"
Part restaurant, part nightclub, this cavernous, windowless, sylvan celebrity hotspot aims to please both foodies and scenesters with French-American fare such as crispy sautéed sweetbreads, demure salads, along with a formidable list of entrées ranging from the traditional, Roasted Breast of Chicken, to the oceanic, Seared tuna, to the exotic, Grilled Ostrich. The night club located on the lower level, aptly named The Birch Room, features dark denim ribbed booths coupled with several dining tables, and most evenings presents DJ-driven live entertainment to a boisterous, celebrity-studded crowd of guests. Don't be surprised by occasion celebrity sightings of Kim Kardashian, P. Diddy, Nicole Richie, and Lindsey Lohan when she's in town.
A favorite among celebrities such as Julianne Moore, Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, and Nick Lachey, Chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson serve dishes inspired by hearty Provencal cuisine at this traditional French bistro in the heart of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Restaurateur Keith McNally, whose other restaurants include Lucky Strike, Pravda, and Balthazar, has created a traditional bistro which also boasts a communal table for larger parties and an outdoor summer café. On weekend nights in the summer you will be surprised at how the usually quiet surrounding streets become clogged with glitterati, limousines and gawkers.
Tao New York, the largest and most popular Asian restaurant in New York City, was created to offer its guests a sensual trip through the cuisines of Asia. Originally a 19th century stable for the Vanderbilt family, and then a balconied movie theater, Tao New York was transformed into a majestic Asian temple, with its focal point being a towering 16-foot tall Buddha that floats above a virtual reflecting pool. Open since 2000, this action packed venue has not lost one bit of its initial buzz. Tao New York is frequented by celebrities on a regular basis from Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z, to Britney Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, and members of the New York Yankees, Giants, and Rangers.
The Spotted Pig
The Spotted Pig is a gastro-pub, the New Urban reinvention of the British Pub known to us chiefly through the tired Andy Capp cartoons; gone are the lumpers and chip buddies. Welcome, sublime arugala salad with toasted pumpkin. While the interior of the Spotted Pig does have its pub elements, including ales and porcine art, there is something else going on here – small ledges for plates, elegant pieces of vegetal art framed and hung, tiny tables tucked into corners, hopeful diners lined up at the door, murmurs at the bar and wistful glances at passing plates of food. The fact that celebrities like Jake Gyllenhaal, Mario Batali, who is a part owner of the restaurant, and Gwyneth Paltrow have been spotted here, and that Bono is friends with owner Ken Friedman, has given celebrity-sighted meaning to its barnyard name.
Best known for its frozen hot chocolate that the Kennedy administration once requested for a White House party, this boutique restaurant in New York's Upper East Side is a favorite of many celebrity diners, including Bill Clinton, Kelly Clarkson, Jerry Seinfeld, Ron Howard, and Meg Ryan. Since its opening in 1954, Seredipity 3 has also been graced with the stars of the past dating back to Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. For those that enjoy all of the traditional American dishes - burger and fries, meatloaf, pastas, as well as a wacky, Alice in Wonderland-like interior, this place is, in a good way, just too much. A leg of lamb sandwich and the fish stew with tomato-saffron broth are particularly wonderful choices in the Tavern Room.
One of America's most popular restaurants, Gramercy Tavern serves inventive American cuisine in a rustic yet elegant setting. Visitors will enjoy stopping by the Tavern Room in the late afternoon for the superb appetizers that range from a portobello tart with goat cheese, grilled baby octopus with shaved fennel and even a stuffed quail with an innovative sweet corn relish. Its salt-baked king salmon with braised lobster mushrooms is one of the finest fish dishes you will find in New York. There is also no doubt that Gramercy Tavern has a scene all its own. It is, after all, the favored destination of quite a few New York celebrities and business tycoons, as well the current home of celebrity star chef, Michael Anthony, who has cooked in many of the world's finest kitchens including Daniel, March, L'Astrance, L'Arpege, and Jacques Cagna.
Another highly recommended restaurant featuring the genius of a celebrity star chef is Per Se and its California culinary wizard, Thomas Keller. The dining room at his Columbus Circle address holds just 15 tables, so it's exclusive, but it boasts spectacular views of Central Park if you get reservations. Try the highly-vaunted lunchtime seven-, nine-course tasting menus for $210 per person. Actresses like Rachel Weisz and "Requiem For A Dream" director, Darren Aronofsky like to dine here.
Tribeca Grill radiates excitement and energy. Its association with hundreds of major media events has helped to make "The Grill" a classic New York social gathering place. Tribeca Grill is owned by Oscar-winning actor Robert DeNiro in partnership with noted restaurateur Drew Nieporent, who also owns Tribeca's renowned three-star restaurant, Montrachet. Celebrity investors include Bill Murray, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Lou Diamond Philips and Christopher Walken. Robert DeNiro and pal Leonardo DiCaprio frequent this large brick-walled bistro. Chef Stephen Lewandowski's enticing menu emphasizes grilled and sautéed selections with cross-cultural creative influences of many different cuisines. And if you're lucky you might spot Tom Cruise when he's in town, or Michael Jordan.
One of the hippest downtown celebrity hotspots, for some reason Cipriani Downtown attracts a lot of celebrity female guests, including Victoria Beckham, Lindsey Lohan, Tara Reid, Jennifer Lopez, and Pamela Anderson among others. The more casual version of the original Harry Cipriani restaurant, Downtown offers a slightly less formal menu than its uptown predecessor. Beautifully designed, the restaurant offers outdoor dining when the weather permits and serve lunch and dinner late into the night in a party-like atmosphere.
In terms of celebrity sightings in New York City, at Katz's Deli the proof isn't in the pudding it's up on the wall, where you can see pictures of the legions of stars who have dined here. Four presidents of the United States enjoyed Katz's hospitality. Vice President Al Gore brought the Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to lunch here. The mayors of New York have visited, as have most of New York's political stars. Lunch time can present any number of celebrities: Barbra Streisand, Kathleen Turner, Ben Stiller, Bruce Willis, Dan Akyroyd to name just a few. Born on the Lower East Side in 1888, with its famous old signs such as "Send a salami to your boy in the army" and a window display of thank-you letters from former U.S. presidents, Katz's has repeatedly earned the moniker of most authentic New York deli. You'll find people from all walks of life here enjoying enormous sandwiches, hot dogs, sauerkraut, and all sorts of crowd-pleasing favorites. Jane and Michael Stern praise Katz's in "Road Food" as the quintessential New York experience that continually wows tourists and real New Yorkers alike.
Bubby's Restaurant Bar & Bakery
This TriBeCa hangout is popular among neighborhood residents who like its casual indoor/outdoor atmosphere, and it is also a favorite the New York film scene, given its close proximity to Miramax Film and Tribeca Film Fest offices. Originally started as a pie company, Bubby's menu has expanded to include classic American fare such as dense buttermilk biscuits, hearty soups, and barbecue and fried chicken dishes that will meet the standards of the most health-conscious of diners. JFK Jr. used to like to dine here, nowadays you're more likely to spot actors Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, John Turturro, or any number of fashion models, directors, or television personalities. Despite the regular presence of celebrity clientele, Bubby's is a surprisingly low-key place to get a good meal. People bring their kids here, and even if there are a few notable people around, you don't need to be one to get seated or served.
Da Silvano could be considered the "Don" of celebrity eateries in New York City. Owner Silvano Marchetto opened the doors way back in 1975 and earned his claim to fame in restaurant circles by introducing New Yorkers to "Cucina Toscana", or authentic Italian cuisine from the Tuscany region. In 2001 Silvano collected his favorite recipes and published Da Silvano Cookbook, giving a broader public insight into his Tuscan taste and Italian culinary artistry. The list of celebrity clientele who frequent Da Silvano's is comprised of both out-of-town stars such as Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Donna Karan, Paul McCartney, as well as New York insiders, such as Graydon Carter, Yoko Ono, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Basically Da Silvano plays host to some of the world's best- known artists, actors, musicians, and business moguls and does it on a daily basis.