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Oldies But Beauties: 5 Can't-Miss Historic Hotels in NYC

Friday Nov 2, 2018
The Algonquin
The Algonquin  

Most travelers to New York City embrace its nickname, "The City that Never Sleeps," but that doesn't mean you shouldn't plan for some downtime at your hotel — especially if you're staying at a historic property that warrants exploration. Here are five of our favorite picks where history comes alive:

The Algonquin
Having opened in 1902 with a nightly rate of just two dollars, The Algonquin on West 44th Street offers guests a wealth of historical treasures. Beginning the summer of 1919 and lasting for ten years, influential writers of the time like Dorothy Parker, Harpo Max and George S. Kaufman famously met over lunch at the hotel every day to discuss their work, calling themselves the "Vicious Circle."

After winning a lot of money in a poker game against other members of the Vicious Circle, Harold Ross financed and created The New Yorker in 1925. Guests of The Algonquin receive free copies of the publication to this day, and some of the floors are wallpapered with its cartoons.

The hotel is also well known for its resident feline. In the 1930's, Original Owner Frank Case took in a stray cat that wandered into the hotel one day, naming him Rusty. Famous actor John Barrymore, a frequent guest, decided he needed a more theatrical name and changed it to Hamlet (said to be one of Barrymore's significant stage roles). Since then, each female cat was named Matilda (source unknown), and every male cat named Hamlet. The hotel has been home to three Matildas and eight Hamlets -- you can follow the current Hamlet (number eight) on Instagram.


JW Marriott Essex House  

JW Marriott Essex House
Construction on the 44-story JW Marriott Essex House New York at 160 Central Park South began Oct. 30, 1929, just one day after the stock market crashed. After opening in 1931, the hotel has been home to many famous people over the years, including Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky and Hollywood Starlet Mary Boland.

The hotel became the JW Marriott Essex House New York, under Marriott International's JW luxury brand, in 2012. Back in the 80s, celebrity guests of "Saturday Night Live" always stayed at the hotel thanks to a famous partnership with the sketch comedy show. In the intro of every show, then-announcer Don Pardo always included in his intro with "Guests of Saturday Night Live stay at Marriott's Essex House!"


The Jane Hotel  

The Jane Hotel
A West Village landmark that once housed Titanic survivors, The Jane Hotel's sleeper-train inspired quarters are authentically retro, and offered at a price point that seems frozen in time.

Designed by the architect behind Ellis Island, the former Jane Street Theater re-opened as the Jane Hotel in 2008, following a remarkable restoration by hoteliers Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Instead of diluting the historic structure with contemporary hotel decor, MacPherson and Goode preserved the building's eccentric character with features that balance the efficiency of a pod hotel with the lived-in feel of a hostel.

One of Manhattan's most storied nighttime venues, The Jane Ballroom previously functioned as the gritty Jane Street Theater and is the birthplace of the legendary rock musical "Hedwig and The Angry Inch." Visitors can even party in RuPaul's former penthouse at the Ballroom Rooftop, an intimate hideaway overlooking the Hudson River.


The Marlton  

The Marlton
Built in 1900, the building once known as the Marlton House has long attracted bold-faced names. From Lillian Gish to Neal Cassady, the building's past is as storied as the neighborhood it sits in. Following a multi-million dollar renovation by hotelier Sean MacPherson, The Marlton at 5 West 8th Street, just off Washington Square Park, is a stylish, yet affordable, boutique hotel inspired by postwar Paris as well as its own Greenwich Village past.

The historic building once served as housing for Greenwich Village's counterculture icons, counting beatnik author Jack Kerouac, film icon Julie Andrews, and the infamous Valerie Solanas as former residents. The hotel's design, with 107 rooms spread over nine floors, maintains the original bones and architecture of the historic structure, while updating it with an eclectic refinement.


The Maritime Hotel  (Source:Annie Schlechter)

The Maritime Hotel
When the Maritime Hotel opened in 2003 at 363 West 16th street, the striking port-holed property was the first luxury hotel to be opened in Chelsea's up-and-coming gallery district.

Built by Bronx-born and New Orleans-based architect Albert C. Ledner in 1968 for the National Maritime Union, the structures nautical history is evident in its design. A soaring tower of white ceramic tile dotted with port-holed windows, the building was one of three in New York City commissioned by the Union, utilized as a dormitory for seamen.

The conversion to a hotel was a natural fit, and out of the three properties, the Maritime has changed the least. From terrazzo floors and wood paneled ceilings to penny round ceramic tiles in the bathrooms, the design of the hotel feels wildly authentic.


Slumber Party

This story is part of our special report titled "Slumber Party." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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