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Most Interesting Historic Hotels in New York City You Can Stay At!

Looking for the most historic hotels in New York City? This city is one of the most history-rich places to visit in the United States, and some classic New York hotels embody the city’s soul and spirit. Many of these hotels were built around the time of the Jazz Age, which resulted in lots of Art Deco architecture that is still on display today.

Not to mention, many notable people from celebrities, and creatives, to politicians and world leaders have spent time at these historic New York hotels, many leaving a mark on each spot in their own way.

If you’re a fan of staying at a hotel with a storied past as much as I am, you’ll want to check out these historic New York City hotels where the legacy lives on and you can stay to this day!

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Most Historic & Oldest Hotels in New York City

The Hotel Chelsea


Address: 222 W 23rd Street

The first on this list of historic New York hotels has stories for days! Hotel Chelsea is located in the neighborhood of Chelsea, as the name suggests and is one of the most iconic hotels for creatives.

If you’re familiar with 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was written by the author, Arthur C. Clarke, while he resided at the hotel. It’s also where Edie Sedgwick accidentally set her room on fire while staying there in 1967. And where Sid Vicious allegedly stabbed his girlfriend in 1978, which sadly resulted in her death.

The Grateful Dead gave a performance on the hotel’s roof. Madonna took photos in room 822 for her erotic 1992 book.

Bob Dylan’s songs “Visions of Johanna” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” were written at the hotel.

The list goes on! Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883 and opened in 1884, and the architectural style is Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Gothic.

It started out as a housing cooperative and then became an apartment hotel. As each decade passed, the Chelsea became less and less polished and more shabby chic, culminating in the bohemian era of the 1970s.

The hotel is known for housing many famous people in creative fields, specifically in literature. Notable guests include Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, Stanley Kubrick, people in Andy Warhol’s circle, Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, and other rock n’ roll musicians and bands in the 1970s.

The hotel also had long-term residents like Virgil Thompson, a composer and critic, who lived at the hotel for almost 50 years.

Today, you can book a stay in one of Hotel Chelsea’s rooms, suites, or apartments. The hotel pays homage to its boho roots with antique brass fixtures, dark wood, and jewel tones.

Even though it’s been updated, you can still feel the charm and soul of the hotel by wandering around the hallways like writers did decades before to gather creative inspiration.

Oh, and the dining options and bars here are worth a visit alone!

Hotel Edison

Editorial credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

Address: 228 W 47th Street

A handful of the historic hotels in New York City have strong ties to the Theater District, and this includes Hotel Edison. Located in Times Square, this historic New York hotel opened in 1931.

You might be wondering if this hotel is connected to Thomas Edison. If you were, you’d be correct! On the day the hotel opened its doors, Edison turned on the hotel’s marquee lights himself.

The Rum House at Hotel Edison

Hotel Edison was one of the first Art Deco hotels in the Theater District, and it became known for the Edison Ballroom. I personally love The Rum House bar on site here as it’s one of the best-kept secrets of Times Square hidden in plain sight. While you’ll find an abundance of commercial chains in the Times Square area, The Rum House is truly a gem of a bar!

For those who like to seek out filming locations, one of the scenes in the iconic film The Godfather was filmed at the hotel.

Today, you can stay in one of Hotel Edison’s modest rooms and suites, complete with custom Edison lighting (of course)! Better yet, this is one of the best options for affordable hotels in New York City too with an excellent location.

As far as dining options at the hotel, you can grab a drink at The Rum House or amazing American dishes at Friedman’s. This location of Friedman’s also has singing dinner shows in the evenings by Gayle’s Broadway Rose, a great alternative to the long lines found at Ellen’s Stardust Diner!

The Carlyle

Editorial credit: OPIS Zagreb / Shutterstock

Address: 35 E 76th Street

The old hotels in New York City are packed with interesting history, and The Carlyle is no exception. Known as The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, it’s situated on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is a stunning 5-star property.

Constructed and opened in 1930 with an Art Deco architectural style, this elegant hotel has hosted Royals and heads of state. Starting with President Truman, and pretty much every American President since has visited the hotel.

President John F. Kennedy had an apartment on the 34th floor for the decade prior to his death. It’s been said that after Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President”, she was able to secretly use tunnels to enter the hotel to meet up with Kennedy.


The Carlyle is well-known for Bemelman’s Bar, which features playful murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the mind behind the children’s book series Madeline. You can visit Bemelman’s for drinks and live entertainment. This is one of my favorite spots to experience ‘old New York’ and one of the best historic bars in New York.

Additionally, Cafe Carlyle is known for jazz, and several established jazz musicians have performed there.

Book one of The Carlyle’s elegant rooms or suites, and enjoy the Art Deco splashes, upscale aesthetic, and warm hues. The Carlyle also has a spa and salon on-site and is just one block off of Central Park.

Warwick New York

Editorial credit: photosounds / Shutterstock

Address: 65 W 54th Street

The first time the Beatles came to the U.S. in 1965, thousands of fans crowded around the hotel they were staying at to try and see them. That hotel was Warwick New York, and it’s certainly one of the most famous and historic hotels in New York City.

Located in the heart of Midtown, Warwick New York has been a luxury hotel from the start and continues to be a 4-star property to this day.

The hotel was constructed in 1926 in a Renaissance Revival architectural style by William Randolph Hearst for the actress Marion Davies, because she was performing at the theater right next to the hotel. She even had her own custom floor in the hotel.

In addition to Marion Davies, Hearst intended for people he knew from Hollywood to stay at the hotel. Cary Grant stayed at the hotel for 12 years, and other notable guests include Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Another interesting fact about the hotel is that if you’re familiar with the famous photograph of the ironworkers lined up on a beam eating their lunch high above the city below, you’ll spot the Warwick Hotel in the background.

The rooms at Warwick New York have clean lines, and soft and simple colors, and some rooms even have terraces. Warwick New York is in close proximity to Central Park, Radio City Music Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Oh, and this hotel is right on the path for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade too if you’re looking to book a memorable stay over the holidays!

The Plaza

Editorial credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Address: 768 5th Avenue

Known as The Plaza New York, it’s located at the southeastern corner of Central Park. It was built to be one of the world’s luxury hotels, and the architecture is meant to resemble a French chateau. One would argue that it’s still one of the world’s luxury hotels today and has been since its opening in 1907 and remains a 5-star property.

During the construction, 1,650 crystal chandeliers were bought! And a member of the Vanderbilt family was the hotel’s first guest.

The Plaza is perhaps best known for being the location for the Eloise children’s books, but many interesting things have happened here. In 1966, Truman Capote hosted “The Black and White Ball” in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom after he finished writing In Cold Blood.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono used to go to the hotel’s Oyster Bar. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright stayed in suite 223-225 at the hotel during the construction of the Guggenheim Museum.

The very first Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 1995 happened at The Plaza, and hotel has also been featured in a number of famous movies, starting with Hitchcock’s 1959 film North by Northwest, as well as The Way We Were, one of the most famous filming locations for Home Alone 2, Sleepless in Seattle, and the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby.

The Plaza has elegant rooms and lush suites outfitted in neutral, creamy colors that are available for booking. Dining options at the hotel include The Champagne Bar and The Palm Court, and for relaxation and wellness options, there’s the Guerlain Spa.

The Peninsula

Editorial credit: DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock

Address: 700 5th Avenue

One of the old hotels in NYC that was built in Neoclassical and Beaux-Arts architectural styles is The Peninsula. Known as The Peninsula New York, it opened in 1905 originally under the name, Gotham Hotel.

To say this hotel is luxurious is an understatement, it’s had AAA Five Diamond Award recognition and status every year since 1999. Celebrities that have stayed here include Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bill Clinton to name a few and the property was used as a filming location in 1969’s, Midnight Cowboy.

The University Club of New York building is nearby, and The Peninsula was designed to complement that building’s architecture. The gray facade is heavy and ornate, and the interior is grand, detailed, and swathed in marble. It kind of feels like a historical building that you would tour on a trip to Europe, not a hotel that you would be allowed to stay in.

The three-story glass penthouse has an indoor pool and fitness center, making for excellent views while you workout or take a dip. The rooms and suites are clean and elegant, and really feel luxurious.

Dining options at The Peninsula include Salon de Ning, Gotham Lounge, and the Clement Restaurant & Bar. In addition, the hotel also has a spa and hair salon, pretty much a one-stop shop for a pampering experience.

Algonquin Hotel

Editorial credit: Alex_Mastro / Shutterstock

Address: 59 W 44th Street

The Algonquin Hotel earns its place as one of the most storied and oldest hotels in NYC. Opening it’s doors in 1902, this hotel is known for its connection to literature.

Starting in 1919, a handful of writers, actors, and critics had lunch at the hotel every day for 10 years. This came to be known as the Round Table and the members were known as “The Vicious Circle” with members like Dorothy Parker.

During these lunches, the attendees developed slang, wisecracks, phrases, and attitudes that were put into print and made their way through the country. In fact, the origin of the New Yorker magazine can be traced back to the Round Table.

Harold Ross was able to get the New Yorker up and running with his winnings from a poker game against other Round Table members. Additionally, the Algonquin Hotel was known for doing what it could to help struggling authors when it opened.

And my personal favorite feature of this historic NYC hotel is the hotel had resident cats, and since the 1920s there has been a cat hanging out in the hotel lobby. All male cats are named Hamlet, all female cats are named Matilda.

The name Hamlet came from actor John Barrymore, who was performing in Hamlet at the time. In fact, the Barrymore acting family was known to stay at the hotel.

Another interesting thing that happened at the Algonquin is in 2004, during a marriage proposal, the first $10,000 martini was purchased. Why is the martini so expensive? It’s called a “Martini on the Rock”, the rock being a diamond at the bottom of the glass.

The rooms and suites at The Algonquin offer warm tones, and are intimate and cozy. A lot of the hotel’s suites are named after members of the Round Table.

The Algonquin Hotel is a 4-star property close to Times Square, and it’s a New York City designated landmark. Literature buffs, this is one of the classic New York hotels to stay at to draw inspiration or just enjoy knowing you’re in a space where significant contributions to literature occurred.

The New Yorker Hotel

The New Yorker Hotel in Midtown Manhattan

Address: 481 8th Avenue

Considered very impressive in its time, the New Yorker Hotel holds its place among historic New York hotels due to its advanced construction and design. It stands out, with Art Deco architecture and “NEW YORKER” spelled out in massive letters illuminated in red at the very top of the tower.

The hotel was constructed in 1929 and opened for business in 1930, and it was built with a power plant, an underground tunnel that led to Penn Station, and an ice rink.

Nikola Tesla lived in the New Yorker Hotel from 1933 until his passing in 1943. He lived in rooms 3327 and 3328, and today you can stay in Tesla’s room.

If you happen to be particularly interested in Tesla’s history, have a drink at Patent Pending (49 W 27th St), a speakeasy at the location of where he used to conduct experiments.

Other notable guests of the New Yorker Hotel include John F. Kennedy, who would stay there during his time in the Senate, and Muhammad Ali, who spent time recovering at the hotel after he fought Joe Frazier in 1971.

The rooms at The New Yorker are modest with Art Deco-inspired touches, and would be considered on the affordable side. Dining options on-site include the Tick Tock Diner, Trattoria Bianca, and Butcher & Banker.

Also, Madison Square Garden is nearby, making this a great spot to stay if you’re headed to an event there.

Martinique Hotel

Address: 49 W 32nd Street

Dating back to 1898, the Martinique Hotel is truly one of the oldest hotels in New York City. Named Martinique New York on Broadway, this hotel is an official New York City landmark. It was built with French Renaissance, Beaux-Arts architecture.

A stunning feature of the property is the 18-story, spiral marble staircase. It was the founding location for the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) in 1916.

From the late 1950s to the early 1980s, the hotel’s theatre was a hot spot. James Earl Jones and Sylvester Stallone even performed there. Additionally, the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop was started at the hotel in 1973, and the purpose was to support black playwrights. Morgan Freeman was a founding member of the workshop.

The rooms and suites at The Martinique have simple, Art Deco furnishings. And the hotel is close to the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden.

Essex House

Essex House hotel sign seen from Central Park in the fall in NYC

Address: 160 Central Park South

Another one of the classic New York hotels is Essex House, located across Central Park which opened in 1931. You’ll easily recognize the iconic red Essex House letters that you can spot from within Central Park from the roof of the hotel from atop the 44th floor.

This is another great example of Art Deco architecture in New York City with its own storied past. It’s one of the final places that David Bowie resided, where Donny Hathaway spent his final moments, and composer Igor Stravinsky also called the Essex House home for a bit.

Baseball fans might want to stay here if you want to bump into any of the Major League Baseball players who are up against the Yankees or Mets as they often stay here.

The rooms and suites at Essex House are spacious and have some Art Deco-inspired decor to match the architectural style of the building in this 4.5-star property. For dining at the hotel, there is the SOUTHGATE Bar & Restaurant that serves classic American options, plus cocktails.

The Hotel Elysée

Address: 60 E 54th Street

Named for one of the finest French restaurants at the time, The Hotel Elysée was built in 1926 and is one of the historic New York hotels to visit for an old-fashioned feel and French country vibe.

The Hotel Elysée is known for The Monkey Bar, a piano bar that’s famous for a wraparound mural depicting, you guessed it, monkeys, as well as caricatures of people and other city scenery. When you visit The Monkey Bar today, you’ll be greeted by lots of little lamps illuminating the moody space, perfect spot to grab a drink.

The rooms of the hotel were all individually decorated and instead of numbering the rooms to identify them, they used names that reflected the eclectic decor and individual personality of each room.

An interesting fact about the hotel is that Tennessee Williams lived at the hotel for 15 years and passed away in the Sunset suite. Marlon Brando stayed in the Sayonara suite and there was even a multi-day party held here to celebrate the presidential win of Truman in 1948. Television shows Mad Men and Sex and the City have filmed scenes here too.

The rooms and suites at Hotel Elysée feel sumptuous and elevated with opulent-feeling furnishings. The hotel also has a club room and library, perfect for some quiet time to relax after being out on the town.

The Waldorf Astoria

Editorial credit: Tupungato / Shutterstock

Address: 301 Park Avenue

The Waldorf Astoria has one of the most famous hotel names in the city, but did you also know it’s one of the oldest hotels in NYC? The Waldorf Astoria New York is a gorgeous 4-star hotel on Park Avenue, but that’s not the original location of the hotel.

The original Waldorf Hotel was built in 1893 on Fifth Avenue, and the original Astoria Hotel was built next door in 1897. Peacock Alley connected the two hotels, and it became the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. However, the original property was torn down in 1931 so the Empire State Building could be built, and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel relocated to its current location on Park Avenue.

The hotel is synonymous with luxury, and has attracted high-profile people when they would stay in New York. Winston Churchill was known to frequent the hotel, and not only has the hotel hosted pretty much every U.S. President since it opened, but Presidents Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower resided in The Towers after their presidential terms.

American composer and songwriter Cole Porter lived at The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria for a period of time, during which he produced some of his most famous work. His 1907 Steinway grand piano was placed in the hotel’s lobby.

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe started living in suite 2728 after subletting it from another actor. Elizabeth Taylor resided in suite 28H in the 1980s, and the bathtub in this suite was the most spacious in the entire hotel.

In one of the more bizarre things that have happened at the Waldorf Astoria, Keith Moon from the band The Who allegedly set off a cherry bomb in the toilet, which resulted in the band not only getting kicked out but banned from the hotel.

More recently, the Waldorf Astoria has undergone a renovation to have hotel rooms and condo-residences. Not only is this one of the old hotels in NYC with an interesting history, but staying here is truly luxury at its finest.

The St. Regis New York

Editorial credit: DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock

Address: 2 E 55 Street

Another favorite of old hotels in NYC among creatives is The St. Regis Hotel. This 5-star hotel opened in 1904, and it has since become a New York City designated landmark.

It was named after the Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. The hotel’s architecture is Beaux-Arts, and the ornate exterior was matched in beauty by the significant amount of marble and bronze that was used for the hotel’s interior when it was built.

Like other historic hotels in New York City featured in this guide, The St. Regis New York has hosted U.S. Presidents and Royals. In the 1960s, the hotel started to attract Hollywood names like Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe.

Artist Salvador Dali and his wife resided at the hotel during autumn and winter each year from 1966 to 1973. John Lennon stayed at the hotel, and in his room he recorded a demo of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.

The rooms and suites at The St. Regis feel regal, with neutral tones thoughtfully mixed with chic vibrant hues. Crown moldings, pretty wallpaper, chandeliers, and other upscale touches complete the rooms.

The dining options at The St. Regis New York includes Astor Court and King Cole Bar. An interesting fact about the King Cole Bar is that it has a mural that was originally installed at The Knickerbocker Hotel, and ultimately wound up at the St. Regis in 1932.

The Ritz Carlton New York

Editorial credit: Anne Czichos / Shutterstock

Address: 50 Central Park South

Situated on a prime location overlooking Central Park is one of the oldest hotels in New York City. The Ritz Carlton New York was constructed in 1930 and opened under the name Hotel St. Moritz. The location for the hotel was the old site of the New York Athletic Club, and looks over Central Park.

The hotel was built with almost 400 windows facing the park, and another 300 windows with a partial view of the park. You can stay in one of The Ritz Carlton New York’s rooms and suites that are bright and full of sunlight. Expect luxury and opulence at this Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel.

Dining at the hotel includes the decadent Contour Gastro Lounge and Bar.

Washington Square Hotel

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Address: 103 Waverly Place

\For the first U.S. tour for the Rolling Stones, they selected one of the historic New York hotels for their unofficial home away from home. Washington Square Hotel was where they stayed in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood known for attracting bohemian and free-spirited creatives.

The hotel opened in 1902 as the Hotel Earle, and over the next 15 years the hotel slowly expanded and grew bigger. Ernest Hemingway stayed at the hotel for several weeks in 1918 before starting his WW I service. Bob Dylan stayed at the hotel twice, in 1961 and 1964. In the 1970s, the hotel hosted musicians Dee Dee Ramone, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Albert King.

Stay in one of the hotel’s rooms, drenched in buttery tan and mahogany red hues, and Art Deco-inspired furnishings. For dining, there is the North Square Restaurant, which has fresh fare supplied with herbs and vegetables from the hotel’s rooftop garden.

Be sure to check out the North Square Lounge for a drink, it’s adjacent to the restaurant. There’s also the Deco Room, a chic lobby bar. And if you’re feeling in need of a little relaxation, Washington Square Hotel offers massages.

The Pierre

Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock

Address: 2 E 61st Street

A list of classic New York hotels must include The Pierre, with a gorgeous Central Park location dating back to 1930. The hotel was designed to resemble Versailles, and it still is truly breathtaking.

Intricate murals, marble floors, and an elegant ballroom with gorgeous staircases made the hotel distinctly beautiful. Dining was important from the time the hotel opened, and in 1932 famous French chef Auguste Escoffier led the culinary team.

The Pierre attracted big names from the fashion world, including Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Hubert de Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent. Other notable names who stayed at the hotel are Joan Collins, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barbara Streisand.

The hotel’s Cotillion Room was showcased in the film Scent of a Woman, and various areas around the hotel have been featured in other movies and television shows.

Richard Nixon stayed at The Pierre for months before moving to Washington DC in 1968-69. And one of the more bizarre stories and happening that took place here was a $27 million heist orchestrated by the Lucchese crime family in 1972! It was so notable, this robbery was even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest of its kind in history.

The Pierre prides itself on exceptional service, and the rooms and suites have Etro bath products and a Bose Wave Studio that you can use with Bluetooth. And, since The Pierre is across from Central Park, many of the rooms offer views of that iconic landmark.

Hotel Wolcott

Address: 4 W 31st Street

Another one of the most historic hotels in New York City is Hotel Wolcott in Midtown South. Dating back to 1902, this hotel opened in 1904 and is a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architecture.

In fact, the same architect that designed Grant’s Tomb, the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant, was the architect for the Wolcott Hotel.

Notable guests at the hotel include authors Mark Twain, Henry Miller, and Edith Wharton. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Beltone Recording Studio was hosted at the hotel. Buddy Holly was one of the musicians who recorded at Beltone and stayed at the hotel.

Other notable residents have included the famous dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan, tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke, heiress Doris Duke, and actor/director Henry Miller.

You can book a stay in one of the hotel’s modest rooms, and the hotel’s rates are very affordable for staying in the city.

The Knickerbocker

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Address: 6 Times Square

Times Square is one of the most famous spots in the city, and one of the old hotels in New York City that shaped this iconic area is The Knickerbocker. This Beaux-Arts hotel opened in 1906, and it was being designed and constructed at the same time as the New York City subway system was being built.

From the time it opened in 1906, it was the spot for parties and gatherings. The 42nd Street Country Club hosted these types of glittery parties and events that attracted people looking to have a good time.

However, at the onset of Prohibition, the hotel shut down in 1920. Over the next several decades it was converted into different office uses. For almost two decades in the 1940s and 1950s, it held the Newsweek magazine offices.

Fast forward to 2015, and The Knickerbocker reopened, getting back to its roots as a hotel. With the new opening came a contemporary redesign of the property. The 5-star rooms and suites are sleek and modern, and offer amenities like lush sheets and linens, and Diptyque bath products.

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