New York: Hotel Dining Gets Haute

Back in the day, hotel restaurants were more functional than fun, offering guests breakfast, mealtime meeting space, and room-service Caesar salad. But in New York’s fiercely competitive restaurant world, dull efficiency doesn’t draw diners. Today’s new hotel eateries feature world-renowned chefs, million-dollar décors, and white-hot bar scenes.

Here’s our pick of the season’s hottest dining and lounging destinations — where getting a room may be the only sure way to book a table. Remember: Hotel guests always get preferential treatment.

L’Atelier
Gotham has gotten its first taste of Joël Robuchon at his L’Atelier in the Four Seasons Hotel. It’s a sublime combination of formal and casual dining with modern French cuisine served at a 20-seat sushi bar-style counter, with an additional 30 seats at well-appointed tables. French architect Pierre-Yves Rochon recreated the signature L’Atelier design from Robuchon’s Tokyo and Paris outposts within the I.M. Pei-designed hotel. From dish to décor to drinks, it’s as close to perfection as you can get on 57th Street. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at Four Seasons Hotel New York, 57 East 57th Street. 212/350-6658. Reservations essential. $$$$

Gilt
Gilt is the current culinary incarnation at the New York Palace Hotel. The landmark space, circa 1882, received an opulent new interior treatment by hot French designer Patrick Jouin. Rising-star chef Christopher Lee was recently appointed at the helm, turning his talents to refurbishing classic dishes with a modern touch, like his version of the Wellington made with yellowfin tuna. Pastry chef Nick Morgenstern follows suit with sweet translations of French icons like the vacherin made with meringue swirls and torn bits of coconut cake. 455 Madison Avenue, 212/891-8100. Reservations recommended. Closed Sunday and Monday. No lunch. $$$$

7 Square
Times Square has a split personality as it is both a tourist destination and Gotham’s heart of theatre and media. Likewise, the new American steak house 7 Square, at the Time Hotel, serves everyone from local business lunchers and hotel guests to pre-theatre diners. Chef Shane McBride cut his chops with top toques Christian Delouvrier and Charlie Palmer. You can order yours with a side of hand-cut fries and southern creamed corn, seven days a week. Pastry chef Douglas Behrmann closes the show with American favorites like deep-dish apple pie and hot cinnamon doughnuts. 7 Square at the Time Hotel, 224 West 49th Street. 212/333-7749. Reservations recommended. $$$

Gramercy Park Hotel
No one is better at creating a chic scene than nightlife impresario-turned-hotelier Ian Schrager. With artist Julian Schnabel, he’s renovated and refurbished the Gramercy Park Hotel, returning the grand dame to her celebrity status of yesteryear (Edith Wharton and Stanford White were both residents). Libations and access flow freely at The Rose Bar and The Jade Bar. Gone are the velvet ropes from the Studio 54 days, but the Private Roof Club is exclusively for guests. Schrager enticed Michelin-starred chef Alan Yau (of Hakkasan and Yauatcha in London) to cross the pond and open a restaurant this November. Park Chinois, a Shanghai-style Chinese restaurant, will be Yau’s American debut. Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Avenue. 212/388-1883. $$$

Gordon Ramsay at the London
Planning a trip to New York this November? So is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Known worldwide for his superb cooking and televised bad-boy antics, Ramsay is getting ready for his first American close-up. In November, the much-anticipated Gordon Ramsay at the London opens, in the new London NYC Hotel. The 45-seat restaurant is designed by David Collins, and will be modeled after Ramsay’s eponymous restaurant in London. While the chef shoots for four-stars, gastronomes will be shooting for reservations. London NYC Hotel, 151 West 54th Street. 866/690-2029. $$$$

Jennifer Leuzzi