With a newly minted mayor in office - affable populist Bill de Blasio - and the arrival of spring signalling a return to gathering in public spaces such as the High Line, New York feels more accessible than ever. The city's dynamic hotel landscape reflects this spirit of egalitarianism; for every Gilded Age palace with four-figure room rates, there's an affordable iconoclast such as the Ace or The Marlton. This also promises to be the year of the brand extension, as a host of hotshots move in, from players with cool cachet - Viceroy and SLS - to global powerhouses such as Park Hyatt. Not surprisingly, one-upmanship is rife, with show-off perks such as rooftop terraces, sky-high swimming pools and Michelin-starred restaurants cropping up all over town. The biggest winner? Travellers, who are truly spoilt for choice.
So new the paint has barely dried (or in some cases the doors are yet to open), these are the newcomers we're most excited about: luxe stays as audacious as the city itself.
Billed as a "house away from home" and opened in December, this luxury midtown newcomer takes the pied-à-terre idea seriously, referring to its guests as "hotel residents", the lobby bar as "The Den" and concierges as "attachés". Everything about the 172-room establishment feels bespoke, from the custom-made furniture to the ambient fragrance. There's even an in-house team of "lifestyle curators" to help craft one-off itineraries for guests.
The 1927 building, four blocks from Central Park, has Art Deco-inspired interiors in a palette of silver, grey and black, along with textured marble, plush textiles and striking graphics by design firm Jeffrey Beers International. The lobby feels like the residence of a Gilded Age robber baron, with parquetry floors, a marble fireplace and gentlemen's-club tufted couches.
We love The only-in-New-York views from the higher floors, particularly from the 23rd floor Terrace restaurant: a mosaic of mansard-roofed Beaux Arts buildings, skyscrapers, water towers and glimpses of Central Park.
Rooms from $555. 201 West 55th St, +1 212 707 4888.
Hollywood set designers-turned-architects Roman and Williams created the look of this midtown beauty, which might explain the heightened sense of drama and silver-screen glamour that prevails throughout the 29-storey hotel, which opened in October. The place is full of luxurious textures - moulded timber feature walls, leather headboards, rich fabrics, veined marble and brass fixtures - and rooms are stocked with mod-cons such as Beats by Doctor Dre sound systems, espresso machines and custom smartphones.
The Kingside restaurant, a collaboration between star chef Marc Murphy, of Landmarc fame, and Rande Gerber's nightlife group, features New American cuisine in a space reminiscent of an Art Deco brasserie.
We love The anticipation building for the (northern) summer opening of The Roof, a rooftop lounge and terrace with jaw-dropping views of Central Park.
Rooms from $510. 120 West 57th St, +1 212 830 8000.
Park Hyatt New York
Slated to open in the North American summer, this gleaming 90-storey tower, of which the hotel will occupy just a portion, promises to become a landmark on the Manhattan skyline. It's the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, and famed Canadian design firm Yabu Pushelberg is decking out the interiors, likely to bear some of the duo's style signatures: rich textures, retro-inspired furnishings and an intimate, private residence-like atmosphere.
Star chef Sam Hazen, previously of the much-lauded Veritas in the Flatiron district, will be running the yet-to-be-named restaurant.
We love A 20-metre-long indoor swimming pool will be set right at the top of the building.
153 West 57th St, +1 646 774 1234.
SLS New York
Start spreading the news: the madly glamorous SLS brand - which has outposts in Beverly Hills and Miami and a place in Las Vegas under construction - has its sights set on New York.
A swank Park Avenue address in the rising-star 'hood NoMad (north of Madison Square Park) is set to open its doors by the end of the year. SLS, founded by Sam Nazarian in 2002, is known for its sexy interiors, VIP clientele and star sub-brands, including Katsuya by Starck, The Bazaar by José Andrés and Hyde Lounge. Interiors will be by Philippe Starck and there are rumours celebrity chef Andrés might be involved in this project as well.
Expect the stardust to rub off on the Manhattan branch of the family, which will have, among its attractions, a rooftop lounge.
Standard East Village
With his latest hotspot, hotelier André Balazs is telling a tale of two cities: the entrance reflects a quintessential red-brick East Village tenement on the storied Bowery, while the hotel above is a paean to the ultramodern glass-and-steel high-rise.
Enter the lobby and you feel transported to old New York - pressed-tin ceilings and wood-panelled walls add to an air of bohemian shabby chic. Towards the elevators the mood changes to a hard-edged, contemporary vibe, with slate floors, textured walls and striking modern art. Rooms are minimalist, all the better to admire the views through over-size windows.
The two restaurants are generating the expected Balazs buzz: Café Standard is a diminutive diner-style space with ivy draped from the ceiling, mosaic-tiled floors and rustic touches such as striped teatowels for napkins.
Next door, Narcissa is more high-minded, inspired by Balazs' Hudson Valley farm: two stylishly casual rooms feature blond wood, warm lighting and a gleaming open kitchen. The farm-to-table theme is paid more than lip service, with Michelin-starred chef John Fraser creating produce-driven menus with dishes such as rôtisserie-crisped vegetables and whole branzino.
We love The 21st-floor penthouse, with its wraparound balcony and out-of-this-world Manhattan views.
Rooms from $328. 25 Cooper Square (cnr Bowery and East 5th St), +1 212 475 5700.
These recent arrivals have turned heads with their attention to detail, idiosyncratic character and reverence for their locations' storied history.
High Line Hotel
Let us give thanks for this addition to New York's luxury hotel landscape, located within the headquarters of the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea. The landmark red-brick neo-Gothic buildings, which occupy an entire block on 10th Avenue, have a collegiate air that recalls an Ivy League campus - there are even working gas lamps in the courtyard.
In the club-like lobby original mosaic floors are covered with antique rugs, leather love seats, velvet-swathed chairs and prints of pastoral landscapes. A coffee shop run by Chicago caffeine fiends Intelligentsia occupies the space you'd expect to find a check-in desk; grab an espresso while waiting for a roving staff member bearing an iPad to deliver your room key. The hotel is only five storeys but its 60 guest rooms are incredibly spacious for New York - apart from a monastic room called "The Closet", whose sloped ceiling and secret-attic sweetness compensate for its size. The pared-back Roman and Williams interiors sport European antiques, vintage Americana and rotary phones (with modern technology).
Although its heritage status means the hotel can't install a restaurant, farm-to-table fave Cookshop is across the road.
We love The fact Clement Clarke Moore's poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas was written here.
Rooms from $390. 180 10th Ave, +1 212 929 3888.
The eminently likeable hotelier Sean MacPherson - behind New York success stories The Maritime Hotel and celeb-magnet Waverly Inn - has turned his talents to this more low-key venture in the West Village.
The Marlton's 107 petite guest rooms are Parisian in style -MacPherson's inspiration was the French capital's atmospheric "hôtels de charme" - with ornate plaster mouldings, Serge Mouille-style lamps and velvet banquettes.
The genteel lobby bar is warm and convivial, with wood panelling, a marble fireplace and oak bookcases full of works that speak to the Village's literary crowd.
We love: The intensely seasonal-focused restaurant Margaux, headed by chefs Michael Reardon and Jeremy Blutstein. The menu features earthy revelations such as cauliflower custard, diver scallops with celery root and roasted brussels sprouts.
Rooms from $285. 5 West 8th St, +1 212 321 0100.
Nostalgia is always in style in this city and the newly opened Jade makes the most of its Greenwich Village locale and Georgian-inspired architecture without ever straying into pastiche.
Guest rooms are brimming with details such as working black rotary phones, glam black-and-white tiled bathrooms and feature walls covered in red palm-tree wallpaper that conjure a chic 1920s boudoir.
The mullioned windows frame Instagram-worthy views of the Empire State Building and the ornate neo-Gothic Arnhold Hall across the street.
The restaurant, Grape & Vine, is a haven of red booths, decorative tin ceilings and romantic mood lighting tucked alluringly away behind velvet curtains. Chef Kevin Heston, formerly of cult dining rooms Boqueria and WD-50, prepares American classics such as strip steaks, burgers and fried chicken with a deft hand. The scallops with winter vegetables, citrus and avocado on a recent visit were inspired.
We love The hotel's own TV channel, featuring short art films, fashion clips and behind-the-scenes interviews.
Rooms from $310. 52 West 13th St, +1 212 375 1300.
When we crave a distinct sense of place, these are the New York homes-away-from-home we return to. They're atmospheric and fashion-forward without being obnoxious or defiantly individual.
Crosby Street Hotel
Set on a quintessential SoHo cobblestone street, this is the stateside outpost of the mini-empire created by legendary London hoteliers Kit and Tim Kemp.
The Crosby ingeniously fuses idiosyncratic British charm with insouciant Manhattan cool. Filled with museum-quality contemporary art and intimate spaces - including the fireplace-warmed drawing room and the light-filled Crosby Bar and Terrace with its glorious mash-up of colour and texture - this is the neighbourhood hotel that Manhattanites would love an excuse to check in to. Otherwise they console themselves hanging at the bar and watching the passing parade of creative types who make this their base away from home.
We love The 99-seat theatre downstairs that screens a selection of arthouse hits, with bar snacks and cocktails.
Rooms from $660. 79 Crosby St, +1 212 226 6400.
Ace Hotel, New York
The hotel world was rocked when Ace Hotel co-founder Alex Calderwood died suddenly last year in London, just as the latest outpost in his seven-hotel empire was being completed. His boutique brand tapped into the appetite for buzzy, communal lobbies-as-social-hubs and created a kind of anti-hotel rock-'n'-roll sensibility.
The industrial-cosy lobby in the still-hot New York Ace is the daytime preserve of creatives glued to their screens, while the Michelin-starred pub grub at April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's Breslin Bar & Dining Room keeps the nose-to-tail crowd happy at night. The minimally cool guest rooms feature details such as blackboards as headboards, vintage guitars, original artworks and boxing-inspired robes.
We love This hotel led the revival of the formerly down-at-heel neighbourhood known as NoMad.
Rooms from $225. 20 West 29th St, +1 212 679-2222.
More like staying at a really fabulous, and fabulously wealthy, friend's house than a hotel, Tribeca's the Greenwich does downtown cool with a laidback accent. Owner Robert De Niro says he created a hotel "he would stay in, somewhere with warmth".
Finishings have been gathered from all over the world, whether it be the Italian terracotta and marble used in the lobby, the silk Tibetan rugs or the ornate Moroccan-tiled bathrooms (some have 13,000 tiles). Adding to the hotel-with-heart theme, some of the artworks on the walls were created by De Niro's father.
The large subterranean pool is perfectly private for visiting celebrities, the Terroir wine bar is only a block away and the Hudson riverside walk along Battery Point is also worth seeking out. Cool fact? When you book a wake-up call, they take your coffee order and deliver it a swift 10 minutes after you are woken.
A three-bedroom penthouse, designed by Axel Vervoordt and Tatsuro Miki, is due to open this month.
We love Breakfast in the hotel's courtyard is a serene start to the day (are we really in New York?). It is also home to one of the city's grooviest Italian restaurants, Andrew Carmellini's Locanda Verde.
Rooms from $610. 377 Greenwich St, New York. +1 212 941 8900. ANTHEA LOUCAS
Like a fine wine or a bespoke suit, these fabulous midtown and uptown addresses have a timeless appeal achieved by constantly making subtle tweaks to winning formulas of elegance, history and discreet luxury.
John Paul Getty once owned it, Escoffier cooked at the opening party and an Aussie heiress called the penthouse home. There's no doubting The Pierre's credentials as a New York society playground. The hotel, which opened in 1930, is luxury of the gold-gilt variety. After buying the property in 2005, the Taj Hotel group invested in a $100-million refurbishment so the luxe factor is at an all-time high.
Facing Central Park, this New York landmark is opulent and flouncy in all the right places: Carrera marble bathrooms, silk brocade upholstery, ornate original crown ceiling mouldings.
And which Aussie heiress once lived here? Lady Mary Fairfax resided in the building's 1000-square-metre, three-level penthouse. And a nice little earner it turned out to be for her - she bought it in 1988 for $13.2 million and sold it 11 years later for a cool $23.7 million.
We love The Pierre offers a sneak peek at Upper East Side life - guests share the ritzy lifts with the building's perfectly coiffed permanent residents.
Rooms from $675. 2 East 61st St, +1 212 838 8000. ANTHEA LOUCAS
It's Gossip Girl meets Alice in Wonderland. The Mark, opened in 1927, was reimagined in 2009 by French designer Jacques Grange and the results are at once chic and irreverent. The foyer, with its graphic black-and-white floor, is one of New York's most distinctive, and while some of the hotel's 100 rooms and 50 suites (the largest being 153 square metres) follow the bold tone set on the ground floor, others use a muted palette of soft mushrooms and greys in plush finishings. On 77th St, between Madison and Park, this is serious Upper East Side princess territory, which makes the in-house Frédéric Fekkai hair salon appropriate. Bonus? Icy Martinis at The Carlyle's charming Bemelmans Bar across the road.
We love The 24-hour room service, which includes selections from the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant on the ground floor. But then, an uptown branch of Shake Shack is only a short walk away.
Rooms from $550. 25 East 77th St, +1 212 744 4300. ANTHEA LOUCAS
Of all New York's storied hotels, the St Regis is among our favourites, for its unwavering dedication to a timeless glamour and gentility. This Fifth Avenue landmark has recently emerged from a substantial nip and tuck; new details include black lacquered doors and marble-tiled entrances to guest rooms, where Chinoiserie-inspired furnishings have been teamed with state-of the-art technology and artworks, including pieces by Hampton Hall and photographer Janet Arsdale.
Even the landmark lobby has had a little work: the original oval windows above the front desk have been opened up, flooding the space with even more light.
We love The King Cole Bar, a gilded watering hole that has been serving the city's aristos since John Jacob Astor's day (the Bloody Mary is said to have been invented here, originally called the Red Snapper), has expanded, with a salon featuring a dramatic open fireplace and ex-Waverly Inn chef John DeLucie.
Rooms from $1,655. 2 East 55th St, +1 212 753 4500.