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You Know You Love Me – XOXO, The Empire Hotel

The Empire Hotel

Many Gossip Girl scenes and the opening party in Sex and the City 2 were filmed here

I’ll admit it – I’m a Gossip Girl fan. When Sex and the City ended, I was aching for something to replace it. Gossip Girl had many of the same elements: fashion and New York City as characters themselves. And “The Empire Hotel”, Chuck Bass’ hotel and Upper West Side home, played its own role. The chic neon sign was a regular and the gold and black lobby the scene of many parties in the series. Though Chuck’s suite only exists on a TV set somewhere, The Empire Hotel is a very real NYC icon.

Both Gossip Girl and Sex and the City have served as my guides to the city with where to see and be seen. Like Carrie Bradshaw, I even tried the flying trapeze for a story. So I was excited to stay at the Empire Hotel, one of New York City’s oldest hotels on my latest visit to the Big Apple.

The Empire Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Empire Hotel

The History

The Empire Hotel is truly a New York City icon. Originally just seven stories, the building was first erected in 1889. Herbert DuPuy purchased the building and tore it down to replace it with a fifteen story building and in December 1923 The Empire Hotel opened. It was topped with its red neon sign reading “Hotel Empire”, which still stands on its rooftop today. The hotel was completely untouched and left in its original state until a refurbishment in 2007.

Location

Though first impressions make it feel like The Empire Hotel should be located in the trendy Meatpacking District instead of Lincoln Center, New York’s Fashion Week designers like Rachel Zoe (who’s hosted her Fashion Week runway show at the hotel) and Gossip Girl have changed that perception. On 63rd at West Broadway, the hotel is an excellent location that is still close to tourist attractions yet away from the Mid-town crowds. I easily walked from the Theater District back to The Empire Hotel is just 20 minutes and it is only one block from Central Park. I’ve stayed all around Manhattan and this was my favorite hotel location yet.

The Empire Hotel pool

Photo courtesy of The Empire Hotel

Amenities

The hotel’s draw is definitely its design. Stepping in to the lobby is like stepping in to a swank 1920’s style jazz club all done up in gold, black, and plush fabrics. Soft lighting and music from the lobby bar set a sexy mood.

The 12th floor is home to another swanky rooftop bar and lounge with a fireplace and a retractable roof so that the party can keep pumping even in the rain. The views over Lincoln Center and Central Park are spectacular and the sleek bar offers up signature cocktails.

Guests won’t have to impersonate someone as Samantha impersonated Annabelle Bronstein when she found her lost pool pass to the Soho House in Sex and the City. There’s a plunge pool perfect for lounging around on a hot NYC summer day on the hotel’s 13th floor. There’s a pool deck menu with both food and drinks so that you don’t even have to steal away from the rooftop pool for a bite to eat. The pool is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Other amenities include a gym, though the location is excellent for a run in Central Park on a nice day. You can even bring your posh pets because The Empire Hotel is dog friendly.

Ed's Chowder House

Clam chowder, spicy mussels, and strawberry shortcake

Ed’s Chowder House

The Empire Hotel is home to Ed’s Chowder House, which is like having a little bit of the Hamptons right in Manhattan. There’s a chowder bar that serves up lobster rolls, chowders (of course), steamers, and the like. Or make a reservation of the sea shack chic dining room for a selection of the day’s fish, lobster, and other shellfish. There is also a raw bar serving up a selection of oysters, because what sea shack wouldn’t? Try the pre fixe dinner menu with a starter, main, and dessert for $42.

Stand room at The Empire Hotel

Standard queen rooms are around $299 per night

Rooms

The rooms were perhaps my only dislike about the hotel. They standard rooms are small, even by NYC standards. But I kept in mind the age of the hotel and with a desk, a king size bed, and a wardrobe to stow away my luggage there was plenty of room to move about comfortably. The bathroom is tiny, though the large rain shower made up for the lack of space a bit. And there was an outlet in the bathroom, which is something that drives me nuts when there is not. How’s a girl supposed to blow dry her hair without an outlet in the bathroom?

Overall, the my room was looking a bit worn but The Empire Hotel has a floor-by-floor renovation planned to start later this year. For the location and price, which I think is definitely reasonable for NYC, I’d certainly stay at The Empire Hotel again.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure. Google+

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6 comments

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  1. Emma

    As a SATC and Gossip Girl fan I didn’t realise this was a real hotel!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Oh, you must stay at the Empire then sometime Emma! You’ll love recognizing spots from your favorite scenes.

    [Reply]

  2. Kristen Sarra

    Haha I love to title and post! I am a huge GG fan! I saw a burlesque show in NYC last night and the only thing I knew about it before then was what I saw Blair Waldorf do in season 1! haha

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    That’s funny Kristen!

    [Reply]

  3. Sand In My Suitcase

    So crazy that we haven’t visited New York yet (except for quick layovers). The hotel looks fun, and a king-size bed goes a long way to catching our interest. But the rooms do look small…

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    New York is fabulous! Definitely plan a trip. As many times as I’ve been to NYC now, I always find something new and different to do there. The rooms are a bit small, but I kept that in mind with the age of the hotel. I’ve stayed at a variety of hotels in NYC and though the size of the bathroom might be a bit of a challenge for two adults to share getting ready, the price was on point for the excellent location.

    [Reply]

  1. A Week In the Life of a Travel Blogger - Jdomb's Travels

    […] I’m exhausted from being awake for nearly 24 hours now but before I can crawl in to bed at my hotel, I need to snap some photos because I’m reviewing my stay at The Empire Hotel (you can read my review here). […]

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