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The Knickerbocker in New York City re-opens its famous doors today (Thursday February 12) more than a hundred years after John Jacob Astor IV first built the hotel. Hotel openings in New York are as frequent as subway trains but some are better than others. The Knickerbocker was an historic hotel, first opened in 1906, at the southeast corner of Broadway and 42nd Street in New York City. Could here be a more evocative address?

knickebocker exterior
knickebocker exterior
knickerbocker bar
knickerbocker martini
knickerbocker outside
knickerbocker room

We’ve been waiting to toast this hotel with a legendary cocktail since it appeared on our Hot Hotel list last year AND again this year and finally we can. Now normally we’d toast its opening in champagne but since the Martini was said to have been invented by the hotel's house bartender in 1912, it will have to be something of the ‘shaken-not-stirred’ variety.

After John Jacob Astor IV died on the Titanic, his son Vincent inherited the hotel. Converted to offices in 1920 the building once housed Newsweek magazine - now it is making news of its own. The Knickerbocker is finally back in all its glory. It has already been accepted into the elite portfolio of The Leading Hotels of the World - which is a very good sign, so we have high hopes of its excellence.

Times Square has changed nearly beyond recognition since the hotel first opened. Whereas the 16-story structure used to stand out, it is now surrounded by high rises but the new hotel has lost none of the charm of the original. Original. Outside the Beaux-Arts façade remains (One of the few left in NY) as do the original copper lion heads on the roof terrace. Inside the hotel there are 330 guest rooms, including 31 suites decorated designed by Gabellini Sheppard.

Rooms are simple in wood and cream , taking nothing away from the extravagant faced. The fourth floor signature restaurant has coiled mesh curtains instead of traditional booths creating subtle partitions among different seating areas. The bar is sculpted from hand-carved Frapuccino marble. The hotel lobby is a mix of sleek metallic grays and alternating bands of light and marble. The walls will showcase a Gabellini Sheppard custom-designed illuminated mirror feature at the Entry and an abstract environmental mural from artist Orazio De Gennaro. “The Knickerbocker design concept glows from the inside out,” said Gabellini

Famous guests of the original hotel included F. Scott Fitzerald, who set a chapter of "This Side of Paradise" in the hotel bar, opera tenor Enrico Caruso, whose wife gave birth in one of the rooms and John D. Rockefeller, who ordered those original martinis with his Wall Street friends.

We predict that the new 7,500-square-foot rooftop bar and terrace will attract the 21st century glitterati. New Yorkers will be heading there in droves to enjoy the astounding views of Times Square and New York City’s neon skyline.

"We're embracing the hotel's original DNA, while simultaneously offering guests intuitive service and relevant luxury," says GM Jeff David said. "The Knickerbocker's history is something that most luxury hotels cannot offer. David expects the history of the hote lto attract guests. "By drawing inspiration from our past to create a lifestyle experience that is beyond typical luxury hotel amenities, The Knickerbocker will undoubtedly appeal to both local New Yorkers and international travellers," he said.

Lisa Edwards 12/2/15

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