It’s one of the more fortunate convergences that Art Deco and New York City’s first major construction boom in the 20th century occurred at roughly the same time. By the mid-1920s, skyscrapers were beginning to drastically reshape the face of the city, with Art Deco providing the cosmetics. New York hotels, always abreast of fashion, followed suit, bestowing the city with many of its architectural gems.
If you travel to the USA and come to NYC first, start your tour of 100 years ago at a hotel built in the Art Deco age. Here’s a round-up of our favorites.
Wearing the same grand Art Deco style as Radio City Music Hall, the Hotel Edison draws its name from the inventor, Thomas Edison, who turned the lights on opening night in 1931 (via remote control from his home in New Jersey). Step in the back door from 46th Street and proceed up the same mirrored hallway with shiny brass railings as Luca Brasi in The Godfather. The reception lobby it leads continues the motif with murals of New York City in its Art Deco heyday featuring Joe Dimaggio, Cab Calloway and the Rockettes.
Upstairs are 900 classic and signature guest rooms and suites with antique-style furnishings but all the modern bells and whistles. In the evenings, grab your flapper-wear and Lindy Hop down to the speakeasy-flavored rum bar for some dark and stormy runs by the piano player. Rooms start at $250 a night. Book online through Hotels.com.
New Yorker Hotel
When the New Yorker Hotel opened in 1930, it was the city’s largest hotel with 2,500 rooms and its own coal-fired power plant in the basement to keep the lights bright. Today, it’s administered by Ramada, carbon-neutral, and sporting “only” about 900 rooms divided into four types of rooms and two types of suites.
All blend modern amenities like flatscreen TVs, free Wifi, and Simmons Beautyrest mattresses with an “extra touch” of Art Deco style. The hotel’s main lobby has even more, especially in the enormous chandelier, elevator doors, and font-lover’s dream signage. Perhaps the ultimate tribute to one of Art Deco’s original inspirations can be paid in room 3327, where Nikola Tesla died. Book online at the website or Hotels.com.
James Hotel NoMad New York
Although built in 1904 in a beaux arts style, the James Hotel Nomad (formerly the Carlton hotel) is replete with the Art Deco spirit, especially after undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation led by world-renowned architect and designer David Rockwell. In addition to the updates in the 317 luxury rooms–which include tall leather headboards, dark walnut trim, and mirrored furnishings–the vaulted main lobby and lounge focus attention on a large print of an early 20th-century street scene flanked by two enormous, cushioned art deco pillars.
Perhaps nowhere is the hotel’s speakeasy heritage more visible than in the Speakeasy suite, complete with a hidden back room accessible through a bookcase. Inside, the era of Art Deco comes alive with a poker table, small bar, and photos of flappers and G-men. Rooms start at $250.
Check prices online at Hotels.com.
The Evelyn Hotel
Also located in the NoMad area near the Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park, The Evelyn embraces its Art Deco roots with a logo harking back to that age and references to the Tin Pan Alley songwriting history that took place nearby. Their tag line is “Inspired by history, suited for today.”
You don’t have to stay here to get your golden age design fix. Pull up a barstool and order a classic cocktail at the Leonelli Taberna or admire the Art Deco window designs in the Lobby Lounge. Rooms here mix a few historic nods in with the modern additions like heated bathroom floors and USB charging outlets. The Executive King Suite has a gramophone and a whirlpool tub.
The gleam of the polished main lobby of the Chatwal hotel almost blinds you with its passion for Art Deco, as if a Hollywood golden age cameraman laid a permanent gauze over the scene. The Stanford-White building; originally opened in 1905 as the headquarters of the country’s first professional theatrical club, the Lambs; today houses an entirely redesigned interior by Thierry Despont, with 76 luxury guestrooms that show plenty of Deco flair in jewel-toned glass, suede walls, leather closets, and even custom-made Chatwal playing cards and backgammon set.
You can even smell Art Deco in the house perfume, The Chatwal No. 44, created by Krigler. This is now part of the Luxury Collection, part of Marriott, so you can earn or cash in points. Rooms start at $600 per night counting all the add-on fees. Compare rates at Hotels.com.
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca
Originally opened as just “The Tribeca,” this throwback, music-themed hotel starts you off with at Art Deco cinema-style neon sign at the entrance. You can have plenty of fun without leaving the highly rated property since they’ve got a nightclub with stage, an outside performance plaza when the weather is nice, a coffee shop, and their own Roxy Cinema.
Rooms feature a variety of nods to the Art Deco age and are loaded with cool amenities like retro Tivoli clock radios (that still have Bluetooth) and suites have turntables with Marshall speakers. Those suites are spacious for New York too, with plenty of room to stretch out and unwind. You can see more photos and book direct with the hotel or check rates online at Expedia, which can total up below $200 per night for a standard, under $400 for a suite.
The Carlyle NYC
Now part of the always-reliable Rosewood Hotels group, the Carlyle has a long history that stretches back to NYC’s golden age. Completed in 1930, it has plenty of Art Deco in its bones, though a bit of that has been toned down over the years to present a more contemporary vibe for luxury travelers. The main claim to fame here though is something entirely different: full-wall murals painted by the Madeline children’s books author Ludwig Bemelmans. (He exchanged his services for a year and a half of lodging for him and his family, looking out at Central Park. The Bemelmans Bar bearing his name still has plenty of references to that earlier time, on top of his whimsical paintings.
Yes, you’ll get great views of the park or city from the upper rooms here, especially the suites. That photo above is the original sculpted staircase in the bi-level Empire Suite, which is 2,600 square feet. Of the 188 rooms at The Carlyle, 89 are suites, so you probably won’t be cramped. Rates start at around $600 per night at the Rosewood site or check online at Expedia.
Large photos provided by the hotels, others by Mike Dunphy. Additional 2021 updates by editor Tim Leffel.