Picture the scene: 1958 downtown Chicago. It’s a late August evening. Steam billows from the sidewalk grates and a cloying humidity hangs low over the city. The Conrad Hilton Hotel, in all its majestic grandeur, stands oblivious to the rest of Chicago’s discomfort, abuzz with a lavish show. The hotel’s plush stage has been transformed: tutu-clad ballerinas sweep across the now-ice rink in synchronized dance while guests in black tie watch agog, steaks lying forgotten in front of them.
It was that very evening that guests were offered a tantalizing peek into the future: a Hilton hotel was to open its doors on the moon. It was a lavish idea, a show stunt fuelled by the world’s space rage at the time. But it did something to inspire future hotels, particularly in New York, whose owners began to focus more on what they could do to dazzle guests instead of being cold, clinical stopping points for the all-American businessman. Here are ten hotels in the big apple designed to help guests escape reality—some of which are even more futuristic than Conrad’s lunar vision.
10 Be Inspired By Art At The Carlton Arms
In this live-in, ever-evolving gallery, artists are given carte blanche for their creativity, so everything is an open canvas. (It’s rumored even Banksy left his mark on a staircase in the '90s before he became the world’s most famous street artist.) Guests can stay in rooms that are essentially a relic of Manhattan’s bohemian past.
9 Feel Light Years Ahead At The Yotel
How many hotels employ robots to handle guests’ luggage? Just one: Yotel New York. Inspired by Japanese culture, this hotel is cutting-edge with its motorized beds, techno walls, and self-service machines.
It’s vaguely reminiscent of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and just goes to show that space stations can be comfortable—though the rooftop nightclub with its space theme means you probably won’t want to sleep at all.
8 Go Goth At The Night Hotel
It might sound like the movie set for one of Tim Burton’s creations, but the Night Hotel is very much a real establishment. Said to be inspired by Gotham City, it’s an escapade for young travelers who enjoy the goth, black-and-white vibes.
Everything, from the decor to the beds, is black and white, giving off a surreal, ‘out of this world’ feel.
7 Stay On The River On A Truck-A-Float
Technically an art installation, not a hotel, the Truck-a-float should still be included in this list as it’s redefining the hospitality industry. The ‘Frankenstein’ of hotels, it’s built from a mixture of sustainable materials (driftwood, roofing panels, and dissected truck parts) and is moored in a marina near Queens.
It may look odd, bobbing up and down upon the Hudson, but it does the job, lulling its guests into relaxation. Each floating cabin has a different name bordering on the whimsical, meaning you can choose from Horseshoe, Diamondback, Swan, or Barnacle.
6 Get The Brooklyn Vibe At The Box House Hotel
Stepping through the doors of this hotel, you’ll feel like you’ve just buzzed into someone’s penthouse on the upper east side, despite its urban warehouse style exterior. All rooms are decorated with bright, colorful artwork; spectacular views of New York; and quirky binoculars and cameras. It’s just about the coolest hotel you’ll find.
Plus, you can beat the metro and get a free ride in the hotel’s old school yellow checkered cab. What’s not to like?
5 Be A Sea Dog At The Maritime Hotel
Weirdly into boats? Well, just because you’re staying in the big city doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting your sea fix.
The Maritime Hotel celebrates all things nautical, with each room designed to replicate a boat cabin with quirky portholes as windows, warm wooden interiors, and navy blue beds. You might not have a view of the sea around you, but New York’s skyline is an impressive substitute.
4 The Not So 'Plain Jane'
From sheltering Titanic survivors in 1912 to housing sailors during the roaring '20s, the Jane gives fond tribute to New York’s rich history. First thought into existence in 1908 by architect William A. Boring, the hotel has gone through massive renovations since, yet still holds onto its intriguing past.
With stuffed monkeys adorning the walls, a Victorian-era lobby, and rooms inspired by old-fashioned train cabins, the entire hotel feels like you’ve just stepped through a time vortex.
3 Live The Dream At Dream Downtown
Think luxury liner, glass-bottomed infinity pool, and ship-inspired rooms and you’ve got yourself the Dream Downtown hotel. This majestic, practically ostentatious hotel is truly the stuff of dreams.
Although it was headquarters for the National Maritime Union in the 1960s, there is still something very modern about the decor. It might sit slap-bang in the middle of Manhattan, but when it comes to nightlife, you don’t have to step outside its doors. Its rooftop parties (and cocktails) are legendary.
2 Get Your Fill Of Books At The Literary Hotel
This is one for the bookworms out there. Designed to provide a thought-provoking experience to its guests, the Library Hotel sits steps away from the New York Public Library—not that you’d need it with this hotel’s collection.
Each of its rooms has a dedicated genre according to the Dewey Decimal Classification of its floor, meaning you can choose among Maths, Music, Poetry, or even Erotic Literature. The Writer’s Den & Poetry Garden (a swanky rooftop bar) is where you can sip literary-themed cocktails and imagine you’re in the company of Ernest Hemingway and Slyvia Plath. The dream, right?
1 Stay Overnight At The Airport At The TWA Hotel
Dormant next to JFK for nearly two decades, the TWA flight center very recently reopened its doors as a 512-room hotel. It’s a definite escape from reality as guests feel like they’ve literally just stepped back into the Jet Age.
With multiple restaurants and bars (and one that fits neatly into an unused passenger plane) dotted about the area, spectacular runway views, and '60s style rooms, it’s a no-brainer for aviation aficionados. Who knows? Maybe it is the first step to launching a hotel on the moon.