The Empire Hotel
44 W. 63rd St., at Columbus Ave. New York, New York 10023 USA
You can't miss this hotel, and mostly because an extremely large neon sign reading "EMPIRE HOTEL" glows red immediately above it. Located in a prime Upper West Side position across the street from Lincoln Center, it boasts an extravagant rooftop lounge (one of the main attractions of the place), as well as a popular scene on the ground floor in the buzzy lobby bar.
Cozy earth tones, geometric patterned rugs, and wall-mounted flat-screen TVs decorate these modern rooms.
Neutral tones continue in the bathrooms, equipped with walk-in showers and rain forest showerheads.
The lobby is sleekly dramatic, with bold patterns and a sweeping staircase. A large, low-lit bar with intimate nooks and comfy bar stools is the centerpiece of the lobby.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Between the busy lobby bar and traffic heading up to the rooftop, the lobby can be a very noisy space.
The seasonal plunge pool is also located on the rooftop, and surrounded by chaise lounges; drinks and light bites are served poolside.
Ed Brown, formerly of Sea Grill, runs Ed’s Chowder House on the second floor (open for breakfast and dinner daily).
The golden glow of the lobby continues in the lobby bar, a spacious and plush watering hole with comfy couches and a wood bar lined with leather high-back stools. It's a particularly popular spot to grab a pre-theater drink before a show at neighboring Lincoln Center. The Empire Rooftop has both indoor and outdoor lounging space where you can hang out and have a drink.
The leafy neighborhood of the Upper West Side and the cultural institutions at Lincoln Center are all right outside the door of this hotel. Subway access is good, with the 1 train at 66th Street practically immediately outside the door and the major 59th Street/Columbus Circle station nearby with A, C, B, and D train service.
Nick and Toni’s Café (4-minute walk) is a neighborhood staple, drawing repeat customers for quality pasta dishes and one hell of a roasted chicken. There’s something on the menu for every craving at The Smith (1-minute walk), a casual and boisterous bar and restaurant serving everything from chilled seafood platters to juicy burgers to vegetable bibimbap. Expect quality wines at Bar Boulud (1-minute walk), an unfussy wine bar from acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud. Restaurants and bars in this neighborhood can be crowded at pre- and post-theater times; if you aren’t attending the theater, you may want to plan around these prime times for a more relaxing meal.
For a beer or martini in an unpretentious setting, pull up a bar stool at PJ Clarke’s (1-minute walk). The Vanguard Wine Bar (8-minute walk) is a cozy, low-lit space with a good selection of decently priced wines.
WHY WE LIKE IT
For cultural travelers, the location is outstanding - this neighborhood is full of movie theaters, museums, and landmarks, like the Metropolitan Opera House. Close proximity to Central Park is also fantastic. A massive rooftop, seasonal plunge pool, and fun lobby bar provide lots of on-site entertainment, making this hotel way more than just a place to sleep. It's fancy. You'll dig it.
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