The Greenwich Hotel Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The Greenwich Hotel, opened in 2008 and co-owned by Robert de Niro, is virtually flawless, from the craftsmanship -- including reclaimed timber, hand-made bricks, antique mirrors -- to all the free extras, like drinks from the minibar, Wi-Fi, and DVD and Wii rentals. Plus, while many hotels of this size (88 guest rooms) don't have much when it comes to on-site facilities, the Greenwich has an underground pool, the Shibui Spa, an excellent gym, and the critically-lauded Locanda Verde restaurant.
Gramercy Park Hotel Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The Gramercy Park Hotel currently sets the bar for New York cool -- hence the celebrities in the lounge and the paparazzi on the sidewalk. It offers ultra-luxe but small rooms done up in high Boho-chic style, a gorgeous gym, and a young, attentive staff. True, even guests sometimes feel excluded from the glamour-fest in the bar. But the place is utterly unique.
The Bowery Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
It may be on New York's former skid row and decked out with distressed furniture and preciously faded rugs, but The Bowery Hotel is pure faux-vintage luxury inside the outstanding rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable Serta mattresses, bathrooms to die for, and great views of the city are all standard. On-site Italian restaurant Gemma and the lobby bar are both very popular, even among the mercurial downtown set.
Crosby Street Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Opened in October 2009, the 86-room Crosby is just off Broadway, meaning that it's steps from SoHo shopping but can still feel like a peaceful retreat. As if to drive the point home, there's even a sculpture garden for quiet contemplation. Rooms start at 340 square feet -- big, for New York -- and have great design, nice lighting, fine Frette linens, even heated towel racks. The one thing you won't find? An alarm clock -- though, given the tranquil vibe, we should've expected it to go missing.
The Chatwal Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This 83-room luxury boutique hotel in a landmark building near Times Square evokes the glamorous 1920s. Rooms combine high quality linens and beds with playful 1920s touches like backgammon sets, custom playing cards, and desks that look like steamer trunks. The rooms here meet all of the modern luxury standards -- Frette sheets and towels, down duvets and pillows by Down Etc -- but they also include fun, playful touches that bring guests back to the 1920s. For example, the closets and desk are covered in pebbled leather, both designed to look like trunks you would have seen on a steamship in the early 20th century, and the desk top lifts up to reveal a lighted vanity.
Smyth Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Opened in 2009, the Smyth Hotel isn't much smaller than its main competition, the Tribeca Grand, but its pampering service makes it a great boutique selection. Just minutes from many of the neighborhood's high-end restaurants and a few minutes more from SoHo's shopping, the cool, modern rooms are exceptionally comfortable, if small, and are stocked with enough name-brand amenities to please even the most discriminating starlet. If it had a rooftop bar, we'd be calling it the new 60 Thompson.
The James New York Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This 114-room SoHo boutique, with a stunning rooftop bar and pool, great freebies (including free Wi-Fi and free nightly wine and cheese), forthcoming restaurant by David Burke, and a hotel art curator, embodies the hip, creative neighborhood it inhabits. Its bright, minimalist rooms are smaller than those at some of its luxury competitors (including the nearby Trump SoHo), but they're full of enough thoughtful details to make up for it.
Chambers Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Between the contemporary art (even in the guest rooms) and the high-design lobby, this lovely boutique feels as much like a SoHo gallery as a hotel. A helpful, attentive staff, stylish and comfortable loft-style guest rooms, free passes to a good nearby gym, and free Wi-Fi make Chambers a rare find for Midtown West. A one-of-a-kind property with more than 500 original works of art on the walls, this midtown boutique has a hip "downtown" feel.
6 Columbus Rating: 3.5 Pearls
An 88-room boutique near Central Park and the top-tier midtown dining of Colombus Circle, 6 Colombus blends contemporary design elements with retro, space-age sleek. You'll have to upgrade from the basic room if you need a work desk -- Pod rooms don't have them -- but more affordable rates and perfectly crafted drinks at the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill on the ground floor can soothe that sting.