5 W. 8th St., New York; marltonhotel.com; 107 rooms starting at $225 (U.S.).
If Jack Kerouac, Maggie Smith, Julie Andrews, John Barrymore and Lenny Bruce once slept here, it's good enough for me. The Marlton hotel was built in 1900, and later became a cheap sleep for the Beat Generation and its central Manhattan location, and affordability meant it attracted the creative class for decades. In 1987, the building turned into a dorm for the nearby New School, until hotelier Sean MacPherson, he of hip haunts such as the Jane and the Bowery, purchased the historic property in 2012. In the Marlton, MacPherson's effortless cool resonates throughout the modern renovation, where a Paris-meets-Greenwich aesthetic invokes a very welcome old-timey feel for visitors.
There's no getting lost when staying at the Marlton. Tell your cabbie you're headed to Washington Square Park, and you'll be just one block from the hotel doorstep, not to mention those of numerous other boutiques, bar and restaurants in Greenwich Village.
While the original architecture of the building remains intact, look for accents and details that might have you thinking you're in Paris: marble and brass fixtures throughout the bathroom, elegant crown moulding in the bedroom and, why not?, a French country-style chicken-wire closet door. The herringbone wood floors are original, and certainly add to the Old World charm of the rooms.
You want to see and be seen in New York, and there may be no better spot in Greenwich than the Marlton's main lobby. The Fitzgerald-esque parlour seating and marble tabletops are right out of The Great Gatsby, and feel inviting at any time of day. We found it a humming, go-to meeting ground for graduate students and young creatives in the afternoon and a meeting place for bar hoppers by night. But by 3 a.m., after a cab ride home – if you've even stepped out for the night – having the fireplace to yourself for a few moments is an unexpected perk after a long New York day.
Eat in or eat out?
It's difficult to outright recommend planning your night around Margaux, the 98-seat bistro tucked into the back of the Marlton. There are just too many dining destinations within walking distance. One evening, however, you should start (or end) at the hotel bar with a sweet rye- and sherry-based Marlton House cocktail or the Applejack take on a Bohemian Sidecar (both $13 U.S.). Find your way to a banquet booth for a bite, and you will not be disappointed. The modern Mediterranean-French fare changes daily, but highlights on my visit included a cauliflower custard served with Brussels sprouts leaves and acorn squash, and local diver scallops with celery root, savoy cabbage and mushrooms. The treatment of vegetables in the Margaux kitchen was a nice surprise and reminded me of the rustic fare you'd find at a traditional French bistro.
If I could change one thing
Fair warning: In true bohemian fashion, the rooms are smaller than your usual New York boutique hotel – the average size is 105 square feet.
Room with a view
A south-facing room on the eighth floor not only clears the street's lower-rise buildings, but offers glorious sunrise and sunset views of the new World Trade Center building.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.