New York may be subject to ever-changing tides of trendiness – as soon as a neighbourhood is proclaimed the next bastion of hipness, it’s almost as quickly written off as being ‘over’ – but the Upper East Side has long remained the city’s elegant heart. The Surrey, located at 76th and Madison, occupies a renovated 1926 Beaux Art townhouse that has been swathed in a cool mix of greys and whites by renowned designer Lauren Rottet. A number of midcentury touches sit alongside a seriously impressive contemporary art collection – drawings by Richard Serra hang in the Presidential Suite, and Chuck Close’s famous hyper-realistic tapestry portrait of Kate Moss adorns the lobby.
Amenities match the just-so veneer of this Relais & Chateaux hotel. Many rooms are equipped with working fireplaces and private terraces, and the food and drink offerings make dining in-house a tempting proposition. The Michelin-starred Café Boulud ranks as a New York classic, while the Coco Chanel-inspired Bar Pleiades serves up 1930s-inflected cocktails. And after a busy day of walking the nearby Museum Mile, a stint on the roof garden, available for guests only, makes for the perfect tonic.