Less glamorous than the Carlyle and less fanciful than the Plaza Athénée, the Lowell at first seems more conservative than its genteel Upper East Side neighbors. But the old-money atmosphere is undeniably warm, and the hotel prides itself on homey touches—like lots of wood-burning fireplaces, and free umbrellas in all the closets. No two rooms are alike, and recent renovations have made the range of options even wider. West Coast decorator Michael Smith is in the process of carefully modernizing the place from the top down, replacing chintzy upholstery and window dressings in the 70 guest rooms with matchstick blinds and periwinkle-blue armchairs. All units will retain their elegant raw-silk drapes and marble baths with Bulgari toiletries, though; the engravings of foxhunts and French landscapes will still line the hallways. And the on-site Post House restaurant—a favorite of New York City mayors for decades—will still serve up its famous steaks.
Tip: Breakfast in the Pembroke Room, which overlooks 63rd Street, is a wonderfully luxurious way to start the day.
Room to Book: Rooms on floors 14–17 have already benefited from Michael Smith's tasteful makeover; the posh Manhattan Suite, on the 12th floor, has a whirlpool and the hotel's only steam shower. Low down, the more affordable 10C has both a terrace and a fireplace.