What are the best hotels in the Upper East Side?

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The best hotels in the Upper East Side blend the timeless elegance and history with modern-day amenities and convenience. For the best of both worlds, book a stay at one of these luxury properties.

With affluent guests ranging from heads of state to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel certainly hasn’t lost its luster since opening its doors back in 1930 — and not just because of its killer Madison Avenue location overlooking Central Park. The classic Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Art Deco property exudes an old-fashioned elegance which is evident in the luxury property’s British and modern feeling guest rooms and suites (and one of 60 residential apartments if you’re lucky) which have been designed by a laundry list of established designers over the years. If you want to live it up like one of the VIPs that have temporarily inhabited on of The Carlyle’s ultra-luxurious pads, book a stay in the impressive Empire Suite, an immense 2,600-square-foot three-bedroom duplex — designed by famed interior designer Thierry Despont — that takes up floors 28 and 29. You’ll live the lap of luxury amongst four-and-a-half bathrooms, an office, full kitchen, separate sitting room and a private art collection. If you can drag yourself away from the unobstructed views of Central Park in your master bedroom or living room, head down to Café Carlyle for a classic cocktail (a Gimlet perhaps?) and live entertainment. You just might be lucky enough to see a clarinet-playing Woody Allen who occasionally makes an appearance at this legendary lounge. For a more modern take on this time-honored hotel, visit the Sense Spa for a face or body treatment (using the luxury Sisley brand of products), or elevate your mood in the state-of-the-art Kohler DTV light therapy shower, where you can customize everything from water and sound to light and steam.

Housed in a landmark 1920s building, The Lowell boasts a majestic English country house vibe despite its Upper East Side address. From the moment you walk onto the spotless marble floor in the Art Deco-style lobby (dressed in rich velvet curtains and French empire-style furnishings) of this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, you’ll be taken back in time. The 72 guest rooms and suites exhibit handpicked art and antiques, a separate seating area, small kitchen and in-room amenities such as BVLGARI bath products and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Several of the suites have cozy wood-burning fireplaces — a rarity in New York City — and ivy-laced terraces overlooking the Upper East Side. We fell in love with the 1,000-square-foot Hollywood Suite — a throw-back to the 1930s silver-screen era — dressed in Art Deco colors and photos of starlettes from years past. The time warp continues in the celebrated Pembroke Room — open for breakfast, weekend brunch, afternoon tea and cocktail hour — which will take you back to the glamour of old New York, one finger sandwich at a time.
What used to be a landmark building from the late 1920s is now The Mark, located near Central Park on the Upper East Side. French designer Jacques Grange is the mastermind behind the public spaces that feature dramatic black and white striped floors and artwork commissioned by Pierre Passebon, the owner of Galerie du Passage in Paris. The guest rooms are equally as chic and modern, featuring custom-made beds — with horsehair headboards — dressed in sumptuous Quagliotti linens and Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TVs and audio systems with iPod/MP3 docks, and a convenient (and cool, in our opinion) Crestron control panel that conveniently operates everything in the room by the command of your fingertips. Bathrooms are equally as impressive boasting touches such as heated towel racks, flat-screen televisions (built into the mirrors) and hip mint green vanities. Suites have more of an apartment vibe, thanks to large living room, kitchen and dining areas. If you’re in need of a quick blow-out, makeup touchup, or manicure before you hit the town, the Fekkai Salon is conveniently located on-site to keep you looking gorgeous. Or, stay in and enjoy the cuisine of famed chef Jean-George at The Mark Restaurant, followed by a cocktail or two in the elaborately designed (think hot pink carpeting and cow-print furniture) Mark’s Bar.

Book a room at Hôtel Plaza Athénée Book a room at Hotel Plaza Athenee for a swanky stay in the Upper East Side. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s proximity to Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and more Manhattan attractions isn’t the only reason you should stay — the opulent accommodations decked out in European furnishings and Sferra linens. Opt for one of the suites with glass-enclosed atrium terraces offering you a little bit of faux outdoor space in New York.

Perched on Fifth Avenue as you enter the Upper East Side, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York is the U.S. flagship of the luxury Taj Hotel Brand. You’ll have luxury accommodations no matter what room you choose, but if you want picture-perfect vistas of Central Park, stay in the one of the large suites. Not only will you have the view, these suites feature dining rooms, kitchens and the spacious terraces for you to enjoy the scenery.

Despite The Plaza Hotel’s Fifth Avenue address and proximity to Central Park, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is within walking distance to the Upper East Side. Even before its renovation in 2008, the  majestic property has been the epitome of luxury for more than a century. We love the Beaux Arts-inspired décor — especially the spacious bathrooms that feature 24-karat gold-plated Sherle Wagner faucets, handcrafted solid marble vanities and inlaid gold mosaic tiles. In fact, the guest rooms are designed to mimic the rich and regal style that pervades the rest of the hotel while providing a fresh modern feel reflecting a sign of the times. A notable juxtaposition  is the impressive state-of-the-art technology the rooms offer. The Plaza is the first hotel in the world to supply iPads for guests to control the temperature, lighting and services ranging from in-room dining to turndown service and more. Another first — in the United States — is the Caudalié Vinothérapie Spa, where you can indulge in such services as the Crushed Cabernet Scrub or Wine Makers Massage minus the calories. If you’re looking for a little entertainment without having to leave the premises, head down to The Rose Club. The legendary venue has hosted a wide variety of musical performances from such greats Miles Davis, Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Bob Fosse and more. To preserve the integrity of this tradition, the lounge still hosts live jazz performances every Wednesday and Thursday night — as well as a DJ on Friday nights for those who wish to forgo the trip down memory lane.

Like other hotels from the same decade, the charming pre-war Surrey hotel recently received a facelift, which included touches such as modern artwork (you can’t miss the giant painting of Kate Moss near the elevators), a contemporary gray and white color palette and glowing candles in the lobby. The spacious guest rooms feature commanding marble bathrooms, plush custom beds, window seats prime for people watching and mini-bars stocked with local goodies worthy of any midnight snack. Unless you’re a pianist, the  baby grand in the Presidential suite will only be admired — and so will the two luxurious bathrooms, full kitchen and large living area in this stunning (temporary) space. If you’re looking to grab a bite on-site, you’ll receive priority seating at Café Boulud, by virtue of being a hotel guest.

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