This restored art deco gem is a favorite with Europeans desiring good location and a somewhat no-frills practical base—expect average-size rooms with midcentury-style red furniture and marble tubs. The lobby mural was created in 1938 by artist Earl Le Pan, who touched it up 50 years later. The Essex House is a stunning example of maritime deco (also known as nautical moderne). Designed by Henry Hohauser to evoke an ocean liner, the hotel is rife with marine elements,
from the rows of porthole-style windows and natty racing stripes to the towering smokestacklike sign. With a prow angled proudly into the street corner, it seems ready to steam out to sea. The outdoor patio is idyllic for lazy days of people-watching. The suites, reached by crossing a courtyard, are well worth the upgrade: each has a wet bar, king-size bed, 100-square-foot bathroom, refrigerator, and hot tub.