Knickerbocker Hotel, New York: New Look, Same Perfect Location

In New York, it’s difficult to imagine a better place to drop a hotel than where the famous Knickerbocker sits — and sat originally back in 1906 after John Jacob Astor built the original destination.

Directly overlooking Times Square and steps away from the 42nd Street subway station, the hotel is 10 minutes walk from Bryant Park, Broadway plays, the Empire State Building, etc., “The Knick” offers ideal coordinates for anyone exploring Manhattan – especially first time visitors looking to treat themselves for their first time in The Big Apple.

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The original Knickerbocker was a high society epicenter in early 1900s New York, but prohibition put a stop to that. Just 15 years after its opening, the hotel closed and became office space for decades before falling into disrepair. I personally know a lovely woman who played with her friends in the abandoned building’s hallways years ago.

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Designated a New York City Landmark in 1988, the building reemerged in February 2015 as the reborn Knickerbocker Hotel. The property includes 326 rooms and suites, ranging in size and title (Superior, Deluxe, Premier, Junior Suite and Corner Junior Suite). All rooms include the essential amenities, including a fully stocked mini bar and a dedicated tablet for accessing the hotel’s valet, room service and restaurant reservation services.

Dining at the Knick is a multi-floor affair. The star of the show is Charlie Palmer at The Knick, the fourth floor gourmet restaurant under the command of Chef Palmer is high end all the way, but manages to sneak in some comfort food flares. I’ll offer a full on review of the restaurant presently.

The fourth floor lounge bar adjoining Charlie Palmer is the hotel’s primary social and business meeting point and the home of the Perfect Martini of which the Knickerbocker claims ownership.

Jake’s is the hotel’s upscale coffee shop. Whether you’re in the mood for a cup or not, it’s a must see for aesthetic design purposes with its warm lighting, marble-influence colors and barrel ceiling.

Finally, St. Cloud is the mandatory rooftop bar. Though technically not on the roof, it’s close enough. Its views of Times Square and mellow vibe should keep it a top warm weather night spot for years to come.

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Special kudos go out to the hotel’s designers for its exceptional Fitness Center. It’s a two room complex with cardio and weight machines in one room, and dumbbells and heavier weight equipment just down the hall. But, the Knickerbocker is the only hotel I’ve ever visited that offers a full-on boxing section. I was an amateur fighter for more than 10 years, and I couldn’t believe I could hit speed bag and spar a virtual robot opponent at full speed for five rounds. It’s the most enjoyable hotel workout I’ve had in years. (But, Knick! Put some air in your speed bag.)

It’s going to be a big year for the Knickerbocker heading into autumn. On October 23, the hotel will celebrate the date of its original founding. In November, it’ll offer a prime lookout for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – offering special room offers and views from its rooftop lounge and fourth floor restaurant. 

Then, come New Year’s Eve, the Knickerbocker stands in full, easy view of Times Square and the crystal ball set to descend into 2016. The hotel figures to be absolutely prime real estate for the party and should bring in some elite level travelers for Dec. 31 luxury travel packages. (You’d best bring mid five figures money.)

Now operating under full steam, the Knickerbocker looks to be firmly back on the New York landscape. Mr. Astor would be proud.

Photos courtesy Knickerbocker Hotel.