The Refinery Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This stylish urban boutique hotel in New York's Garment District is located in a historic building that was once a tea salon and hat factory. The property's past inspired its present industrial-chic design, and small details such as decorative milliner's tools pay homage to the building's former function. In the lobby, cool white stone and Gothic arches are contrasted against colorful contemporary art, while in the rooms, a minimalist black-and-white motif is warmed up by the oak hardwood floors. Features include a fitness center, a lobby bar (named for the historic tea salon's owner), Parker & Quinn bistro, and a cool rooftop bar. The location is within walking distance of popular sights such as the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, and Herald Square.
The Jade Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
From the curated library to the retro rotary phones in every room, no detail has been left out at this sexy boutique. Its 113 stylish rooms have tasteful decor inspired by the Paris of the 1920s, and feature top-notch amenities, including high-definition TVs, Tivoli radios with iPod hookups, and free Wi-Fi. Grape & Vine, a bar and restaurant reminiscent of the old New York speakeasies, attracts a varied clientele with its intimate yet casual vibe and French-inspired menu. The Jade is a great pick for couples and business travelers, but those with kids in tow might find some rooms to be too small and the walls too thin.
Hyatt Union Square New York Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Opened in 2013, the upscale Hyatt Union Square New York offers stylish accommodations and solid amenities a block from Union Square (and its seven subway lines). Rooms are bright and charming, with fun details and textiles; several feature terraces. The three on-site restaurants -- with a fourth on the rooftop terrace coming soon -- serve three solid meals a day in comfortable but stylish settings. Overall, it is one of the best bets in the area.
Pod 39 Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The idea of the 366-room Pod 39 hotel is to offer very small rooms (even by New York City standards, a city notorious for small hotels rooms) for low prices (again, by New York City standards). Rooms range from 55 to 140 square feet, and prices start at $119 per night. The smallest rooms, or pods, only fit one person, but all have private bathrooms and smart design touches, like storage under the bed, train-inspired coat hooks, double flat-screen TVs for guests in bunk beds, and both outlets and a "cell phone" close to the pillows. There are three seriously cool -- and colorful -- public spaces: an upscale Mexican restaurant, a rooftop bar with unique architecture, and a hangout space called the Playroom. The hotel keeps prices low by cutting back on amenities and services, but it's a great option for anyone who wants a low price tag without sacrificing cleanliness, comfort, and style.
The Inn at Irving Place Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Thorough attention to detail and old-world charm set this quaint boutique hotel apart. Its 12 rooms have been individually decorated with period antiques and fireplaces, and feature modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. The property lacks most of the amenities of larger hotels, including a fitness center and a full restaurant -- but it does offer an elegant tea salon, a central location a block from Union Square, and an intimate feel that's hard to come by in New York.
The NoMad Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Centrally located near Madison Square Park, The Nomad (which shares its name with the surrounding neighborhood north of Madison Square Garden) is a luxurious, impeccably designed hotel with attentive service but limited features (there's no spa or business center). The hotel's focal point is its eponymous bar and restaurant, featuring five separate-but-connected spaces that sprawl along the ground floor. Guests can order cocktails in the cozy, book-lined Library or order brunch in the sun-filled Atrium room, though they should be prepared for price tags that match the high level of style. The 168 guest rooms are luxurious (there are Sferra linens, Frette towels, and robes), and successfully evoke a bygone era with Persian rugs, old maps, and antique-looking fixtures. Hip travelers who are willing to sacrifice luxury (without sacrificing a popular scene) should consider the Ace Hotel just around the corner, which offers more amenities -- multiple bars, a popular coffee shop, and more common space in which to socialize -- at an often lower price.
W New York Downtown Rating: 4.5 Pearls
When it opened in 2010, this W hotel brought the suit-focused Financial District with a dose of cool. It's a sleek hotel, and its biggest assets are its stylish lobby lounge (with huge wrap-around terrace) and its proximity to Ground Zero (which means perfect views of the Freedom Tower). Other features include a nice fitness center (with great views), a small business center, meeting rooms, and a restaurant by the well-regarded BLT chain. Many tourists would prefer to be in a hipper, quainter, or more central neighborhood, but the hotel is close to Wall Street, Trinity Church, Battery Park, the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and of course the 9/11 Memorial. Travelers who like the idea of a hip hotel in the Financial District can also consider Gild Hall, about a 10-minute walk to the east.
Night Hotel New York Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Not to be confused with its sister hotel, Night Hotel Times Square -- just two blocks away -- the Night Hotel New York is a trendy upscale hotel half a block from Times Square. Its convenient location is within walking distance of numerous attractions, but it's quiet nonetheless -- and the hotel's "night" theme means windows are hidden behind heavy blackout drapes, which can help make for a good night's sleep. Other features make this hotel a nice boutique pick include the sexy black-and-white decor; the on-site restaurant serving tasty sushi; and the sleek rooms featuring large flat-screen TVs and work desks. The low lighting and lack of windows won't appeal to all, and standard bathrooms are small, but it's still a solid four-pearl pick for the price and location.
Lombardy Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Lombardy is an upscale boutique right on the border between business-y Midtown East and the ritzy Upper East Side. All of its 154 rooms are privately owned, and have a strong apartment feel to them, with kitchenettes (suites have full kitchens), tons of space, and homey touches such as curated selections of books and seating areas. There’s a seafood restaurant, a great salon with spa treatments, and a small but well-equipped fitness center -- but the breakfast included in the nightly rate is actually a discount voucher for a nearby diner. Still, the hotel is a great pick both for business and leisure travelers.
The Sherry-Netherland Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Sherry-Netherland is one of New York’s grand dames. With only 100 individually decorated rooms, white-gloved elevator operators, and a marble, vaulted lobby with crystal chandeliers, this boutique is exclusive, elegant and historic. Rooms have classic decor and modern technology features, including iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. There’s not much in the way of hotel features, but the small fitness center is well-equipped, and the adjacent restaurant is known for its wonderful Venetian fare. The Sherry’s location -- on the southeastern corner of Central Park -- makes it a great base to explore the city’s major attractions.
Z Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Z is a hip boutique in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. Stylish rooms have dark grey accent walls with funky murals, floor-to-ceiling windows offering sweeping Manhattan views, and tons of fun details. The attractive, industrial-chic lounge is the meeting point for guests day and night, and offers a solid drinks and tapas menu well into the evening. The hotel's location (a short walk from seven subway lines and one stop on the E train from Midtown); outstanding freebies (Wi-Fi, hourly shuttle to and from Manhattan, loaner bikes, and phone calls); and reasonable rates (cheaper than Manhattan hotels) make it a great value. It's a chic option for those who don’t mind staying in a quieter part of the city.