Sleepover: Gramercy Park, New York

The location

The location

With its address at the southern end of Lexington the hotel is wonderfully located - on graceful Gramercy Square Park, with its classically laid-out trees, walkways, fountains and flowerbeds. Although small, the park stands behind iron railings and is the only private park in Manhattan accessible only to those that live around the square itself. Ask the concierge and he will open the gates for you - a privilege that many others in Manhattan would dearly like to share.


Standing on a corner, the hotel has a handsome façade and a large awning announcing its revolving-door front entrance, a green-uniformed doorman always in attendance. Once inside, you will find facilities that are a little limited compared to some of its pricier rivals but that include four recently installed flat-screen computers for internet access and a new fitness room.

The comfort factor

This hotel has recently changed hands, purchased by hip hotelier Ian Schrager, and renovations are promised, perhaps next year. Fans of the Gramercy may not welcome the coming change. Its faded charm, and long-earned dignity, may soon be partially lost. But for now, rooms are a touch tired, even shabby.

There is still a slightly eccentric air about the Gramercy Park. The stand-offish registration staff stand behind a Wild West-style counter and dispense keys that are still really keys, not plastic cards.

The rooms vary widely in size but can be very large, with living rooms attached, and most are certainly bigger than any you will find in most other more expensive hotels. In rooms on the lower floors you may notice noise from the bar.

The bathroom

Bathrooms are charmingly old-fashioned, and the occasional chipped tile may remind you of home, but they are spotlessly clean. Don't expect fancy bath products or flannels folded into swan shapes however.

The food and drink

There is no restaurant. A basic breakfast is served downstairs but you are likely to seek better fare elsewhere. However, the hotel has two wonderful bars. The most famous is downstairs and adjacent to the lobby. It is theatrically furnished with velvet sofas and period armchairs. Candles burn in high candle-sticks and the walls are decorated with trompe l'oeil.

The roof bar has been transformed in the past two years to a must-be-seen nocturnal destination for an attractive, martini crowd. Light meals of the satay variety are served in the evenings. Choose to sit in the indoor section, bizarrely decorated in over-vivid jungle greens - the wallpaper is a shock - or step on to the wrap-around terrace outside to drink, gossip and smoke and take in the views of surrounding downtown Manhattan.

The people

An eclectic mix of guests, from wannabe models to elderly folk who look as if they might be permanent residents. The Gramercy has a hard core of loyal returning visitors. Eleven-year-old John F Kennedy lived here with his parents. Humphrey Bogart married Helen Mencken in the roof garden in 1926. Babe Ruth, the baseball legend of yore, was known to get rowdy in its bar.

Contemporary guests seen enjoying cocktails at the Gramercy: Sting, Ethan Hawke, Peter O'Toole and The Clash. The actor and director Cameron Crowe chose the bar as the set for a scene in his film about not-quite-there rock stars, Almost Famous.

The area

On the corner of Lexington and 21st Street, the hotel is a little south of Midtown, a short walk to Park Avenue South, Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It's a short taxi ride to the theatre district to the north or the SoHo shopping areas to the south and an easy walk south to restaurants on Irving Place, and to vibrant Union Square.

The access

Wheelchair accessible. Pets welcomed at an extra charge of $20 a night.

The damage

Take advantage of pre-renovation rates. Rooms can usually be had for $170 a night, but you may pay more. Still a relative bargain. Room rates same for one or two people; $10 may be added for each additional person or child.

The address

Gramercy Park, 2 Lexington Avenue, New York 10010 (00 1 212 475 4320;

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments