One of the most coveted status symbols in NYC is a key to Gramercy Park (only those apartments overlooking the city’s only private park get one). Stay here, though, and you can join the elite, in more ways than just park access. Few hotels in the city, or anywhere for that matter, are as truly luxurious or as riotously artistic. The public spaces of this 1925-built gem are de facto galleries, where the art changes every other month and features such heavy-hitters as Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. The rooms are aglow with the colors of a Tiffany lamp and filled with fine photography plus an exquisite mix of Edwardian and modern furnishings—an embroidered chair here, a velvet headboard there, DVD players hidden in mahogany English drinking cabinets. One of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Maialino not only has residence in the lobby but is responsible for the 24-hour room service. A true original, and sometimes it even discounts (go to such sites as Booking.com or Momondo for those).
- Pauline Frommer