services 06.11.03

The Best and Worst Hotels in New York

The Carlyle, 35 E. 76th [Mad] 212.744.1600. Discreetly glamorous, its distinctly un-public lobby signals that this is a haven for power brokers, the moneyed, and the famous. Understated, traditional elegance and little frippery give the rooms a timeless feel. Few hotels can match it for old-world continuity and star power.

The Four Seasons, 57 E. 57th [Park/Mad] 212.758.5700. The soaring expanse of the lobby may leave you cold, but we find it vastly preferable to the timid or overly familiar. The guest rooms are larger than most in town and are lovely: they're I. M. Pei's version of 1930s Hollywood's version of Manhattan. The combination of high-service standards, for which the Four Seasons hotels are renowned, and the stunning public and private spaces, creates an extraordinary hotel.

The St. Regis, 2 E. 55th [5th/Mad] 212.753.4500. There may be hotels in town with more gadgets and better views, but none matches the St. Regis for grace and civility. The rooms are little laps of luxury: high ceilings, silk wall coverings, and perfect beds. A butler is at your beck and call. Until recently, it was also home to one of the city's top restaurants, Lespinasse, which is now closed.

Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1 CPW [Columbus Circle/W. 61st] 212.299.1000. Mr. Trump, we think it's fair to say, is not universally beloved by New Yorkers. Even so, when you're putting up guests, it's hard to imagine any New Yorker finding fault with the hotel that bears his name. It is simply beautiful. Rooms with a view over Central Park are the most prized and, on the ground floor, there's Jean Georges.


Hotel Carter, 250 W. 43rd [7th/8th] 212.944.6000. We checked in here several years ago to get a feel for the Carter and a recent visit suggested not whole lot has changed. Rooms look like they're suffering from a bad hangover; they're dingy, depressing, and you cringe from the street noise. Even the hallways look like they've fallen off the wagon.

Howard Johnson on 34th, 215 W. 34th [7th/8th] 212.947.5050. If Howard Johnson weren't already dead, the beds here would probably kill him. It looks like there was a half-hearted attempt to remedy the dirty windows, the stained carpets, and the cigarette burns since the last time we were here. But the rooms are still dark, have a pronounced fug, and the mattresses feel like they were manufactured during the Eisenhower administration.

Riverview Hotel, 113 Jane [Washington/West] 212.929.0060. The sorriest of the more than 250 hotels we have visited in New York. Guest room floors look like a prison. Rooms are small, barren, and awful. The bathrooms smell of urine and mildew. In one of them, a homeless person is cleaning himself up at the sink. He deserves better.

Seton Hall, 144 E. 40th [Lex/3rd] 212.889.5301. Among the most depressing hotels in the city, it's pervaded by a Dickensian gloom. A tiny bit improved since the last time we visited, but still: a small rack for a closet, an ancient television, end-of-the-line desolation.
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