Some hotels embody the character of their neighborhood, and in the Upper East Side, one fine example is the Surrey. Discreet service, a prestigious address, and amenities of the highest quality combine in this historic property, first built in 1926 as a residence hotel. Over the decades, celebrities from John F. Kennedy to Bette Davis chose the Surrey as their New York home. In the modernization of the Surrey, interior designer Lauren Rottet was inspired by the idea of a classic Manhattan townhouse passed down through generations.
Amenities are just as exceptional as the service at this Relais & Chateaux property, from the 17th-floor private roof garden (try the muddled lemonade) to the luxurious Cornelia Spa. With a location near Museum Mile, the Surrey also places an emphasis on art, seen in its collection of modern art on display including pieces by Chuck Close. Café Boulud is beloved by New Yorkers, and Bar Pleiades, inspired by the style of Coco Chanel, is a chic retreat for people-watching along Madison Avenue. Order a classic cocktail and settle in to listen to the weekly jazz trio on Friday nights.
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The Upper East Side is home to a number of prestigious addresses, besides the Surrey, at 76th Street and Madison Avenue. This retreat is one block east of Central Park, with a park entrance near the model boat sailing pond and Bethesda Fountain. High-end Madison Avenue shopping is on the doorstep (Carolina Herrera, Christian Louboutin), and Museum Mile, home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a short stroll away. Local dining is as posh as you might expect; cocktails on the rooftop of the Met (during warm weather) is a neighborhood highlight. Subway access isn’t great in this nook of Manhattan, with only the 6 train available a couple blocks east.
Need to Know
Rooms: 190 salons and suites, 1 penthouse, 1 presidential suite. From $495. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: From acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud, Café Boulud offers a contemporary approach to classic French cuisine in dishes such as onion soup with three cheeses and foie gras with macadamia nuts (plus, Café Boulud takes care of 24-hour in-room dining). Bar Pleiades, on the lobby level, serves a cocktail list heavy on options from the 1970s and '80s, in a decadent space inspired by the style of Coco Chanel. Spa and gym details: The exclusive Cornelia Spa is located on the 2nd floor, and it's home to a relaxation library, 3 treatment rooms, and 2 spa suites. There is also a 24-hour fitness center.
Who’s it best for: Well-heeled travelers with an affinity for history. Upscale girlfriend getaways, taking advantage of the excellent spa and dining on-site. Our favorite rooms: Depending on the season, select your salon or suite based on features—fireplaces, private terraces, small kitchens, or soaking tubs. Park cruising: The Surrey offers Bobbin Bikes for rent; cruise around Central Park before settling into a picnic basket created by Café Boulud.