A good hotel provides travelers with access to nearby attractions. A great hotel makes travelers want to skip the attractions altogether. When visitors check into these 20 hotels, which ran the gamut from luxurious to anarchic, they never want to leave. The reasons range from glorious views to glorious linens, but there are a few universals. Each of the hotels is a self-contained world entirely apart from reality defined by a set of unwritten laws that maids, bellboys, and, yes, guests, seem to innately understand. These hotels are someone else's fantasies, but they seem, on second glance, as though they might be your own.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
The jazz standard "Autumn in New York" may conjure images of Poet's Walk in Central Park (and memories of overpaying for carriage rides), but travelers don't have to loiter uptown to enjoy the season's charms. Roughly 80 blocks south, Battery Park's Linden trees are turning as stronger winds shove sailboats toward the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. New York's other Ritz-Carlton, a more modern if no less luxurious installation on the edge of this riverside oasis, offers sweeping views of sunsets brightened by Jersey City smog and a special package for travelers looking to enjoy crisper weather and downtown's heartier delights.
As part of the Autumn in the Park package, out-of-towners are given a massive picnic basket filled to its rattan top with cheese, fruits, and fresh sandwiches, then pointed in the direction of Pier 17 (just past a revamped dog park dominated by very contented dachshunds). The awaiting Clipper City, a graceful 158-foot schooner, sets course for the big lady in the harbor – and gets close enough to give everyone aboard a better appreciation for the genius of 'Ghostbusters 2.' Smart sailors camp out in front of the jib, out of the deckhands' way and far from other tourists and the bar toward the stern. Better drinks await back onshore.
It may not be part of the Ritz's package, but an after-sail visit to Dead Rabbit is mandatory. The old-fashioned pub has one of the best whiskey selections in the city and probably the best bartenders. Order a heavy Irish Manhattan or sweeter, fruit-filled Gin Smash and drink it slowly – these cocktails are designed to put a bit of red hair on the chest. Thank goodness the Ritz is only six blocks away.
The Ritz means comfortable beds and deep tubs and a telescope pointed toward Jersey that you can put to better use surveying the Hudson River. In the morning, the hotel makes bikes available – not Citi Bikes, mind you – so guests can pedal north on the West Street bike lane just outside the lobby. The ride to the 9/11 Memorial takes only a few minutes, giving travelers longer to linger at the thoughtfully designed site before heading back toward the hotel, toward the docks near Pumphouse Park or farther north into Little Italy, where festivals follow on the heels of festivals.
Central Park, its Great Lawn, and the Metropolitan Museum are only seven stops away on the 5 train, but travelers may not even bother with the trip.
More information: The package, which includes overnight accommodation, breakfast, the sail, a full-day bike rental, a premade picnic, and a picnic blanket, which travelers can keep, costs $725 a night.