Inn at Irving Place
Two adjoining town houses comprise this unassuming Victorian inn, housed in an 1834 brownstone just south of historic Gramercy Park. The look—floral-print couches, tasseled lampshades, egg-and-dart molding, and dark-wood armoires—is granny chic, and there's even a tiny harmonium in the check-in lounge. Named after neighborhood notables such as Edith Wharton and Gilded Age architect Stanford White, the nine bedrooms have antique sconces and copper bar-tops and sinks; around the corner in a separate building, the inn also offers three one-bedroom residences, with full kitchens, separate living rooms, and bedrooms. The candlelit tea salon, Lady Mendl's, is a charmingly dainty venue for afternoon gossip. The quiet location, a short walk from Union Square, is hard to beat, and although the inn has no restaurant, there are plenty of excellent ones nearby: Casa Mono, Mario Batali's corner tapas boîte, is literally next door, and the legendary Gramercy Tavern is four blocks away.
Tip: You can't just pop into Lady Mendl's for a spot of Earl Grey. The parlor-style salon offers a five-course tea service ($35 per person) only, which includes the inn's popular layered crêpe-cake and a chance to peek at visiting uptown ladies in fancy hats and silk scarves. Reserve a table in advance, especially on weekends.
Room to Book: The Mme. Olenska suite, which overlooks Irving Place and has a window seat and lots of natural light.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.