New York’s history is definitely rich with the good and the bad – behind each corner lurks a story to uncover. We’ve sifted through Manhattan’s history and pulled out a few hotels known for illustrious guests, infamous activities and sordid mob murders. Today, many of the hotels’ guests tell a different story than those of the past, but the establishments continue to provide accommodations to those staying in New York City. By Jennifer Friedel.

Hotel Chelsea (Now Closed)

hotel chelsea sff New York Citys 5 Most Notorious Hotels

This Oct. 12, 1978 file photo shows attendants carrying the body of 20-year-old Nancy Spungen, of Philadelphia, from the Hotel Chelsea in New York, allegedly stabbed to death by her boyfriend, The Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious. (AP Photo/Hal Goldenberg, File)

222 W 23rd Street, New York 10011

Now closed, the Hotel Chelsea was a long-standing epicenter for creative artists, philosophers and other literati as well as their bad behavior. Famous guests have included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Francisco Clemente, Susan Olmetti, David Remfry, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper and Stanley Kubrick just to name a few. Two of the hotel’s most infamous occupants were Dylan Thomas, who actually died here in 1953 of alcohol poisoning, and Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, who was found stabbed to death 1978. The bohemian stopover – which also provided lodging for Titanic survivors with second-class tickets for a few days following the disaster, is known for its eclectic art collection and grand architecture. Travelers are welcome to stay in this landmark hotel’s guestrooms, offering complimentary WiFi, floor-to-ceiling windows, suites with parlors, studios with kitchenettes and plenty of rich history to marvel in.

Hotel Elysee

 tennessee williams New York Citys 5 Most Notorious Hotels

Playwright Tennessee Williams died in the Hotel Elysee's "Sunset Suite." (AP Photo)

60 East 54th Street, New York 10022
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Built in the 1920s, this boutique hotel has been home to some of the top names in America’s pop culture, including Joe DiMaggio, Ava Gardner, Sidney Poitier, Sidney Sheldon, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Paul Douglas and most notably Tennessee Williams, who lived in the “Sunset Suite” until his death in the room in 1983. Police claim he died choking on a cap from one of his prescription bottles, though his brother disputes this and says it was murder. Part of the allure of this hotel was its redesign following World War I, when the children of the hotel’s owner took it upon themselves to decorate every room so no two were alike. Each guestroom was assigned a name which fit the decor, such as the “Sayonara Suite,” which Marlon Brando called home. The hotel is also home to the famous Monkey Bar piano bar which opened during the Great Depression, and has hosted a number of celebrated performers. Today, business and leisure tourists, as well as some celebrities still stay in this Midtown hotel that recalls the late 18th Century with its luxe décor, and is situated just steps from Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.

Algonquin Hotel

algonquin hotel New York Citys 5 Most Notorious Hotels

(credit: Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

59 West 44th Street, New York 10036
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The Algonquin Hotel, located in the mix of New York City landmarks, including Times Square and Broadway has a famous, or rather infamous story of its own. Constructed in 1902, the hotel now welcomes visitors seeking luxury accommodations and top-shelf amenities, but it’s also home to alleged ghosts. The hotel was a daily lunch spot for The Round Table, a group of writers that met regularly following World War I, including Dorothy Parker, Franklin Pierce, Robert Sherwood, Harpo Marx and Edna Ferber. A few guests have claimed they’ve spotted some of the Vicious Circle crew around the hotel, especially in the lobby, but nothing in the “spooky” category. Today, guests can see if the rumors are true while experiencing the hotels recent renovation, directed by famed designer Alexandra Champalimaud.

Park Central

mae west New York Citys 5 Most Notorious Hotels

Mae West stayed at the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Ave. (AP Photo)

870 Seventh Avenue, New York 10019
212-247-8000 or 800-346-1359
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Previously called the Park Sheraton, this hotel – located just steps from Central Park and Carnegie Hall – recently underwent a $65 million renovation and offers guests spacious accommodations. The hotel has been a favorite of the elite crowd, including Jackie Mason, Mae West and Eleanor Roosevelt. The hotel’s barber shop was also the favorite of infamous mobster Albert Anastasia, boss of what is now called the Gambino Crime Family, one of the City’s Five Families, and head executioner of the hired killers gang, Murder Inc. Anastasia was murdered in 1957 while sitting in the barber’s chair during a shootout – the murder remains unsolved. Roughly 30 years earlier in 1928, the Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein, known for his flashy, well-appointed attire was shot and killed during his regular card game at the hotel. No need to fret though, as these incidents are just a part of Manhattan’s colorful past.

The Mark

516570061 New York Citys 5 Most Notorious Hotels

Johnny Depp (C) put The Mark Hotel on the map in 1994 after trashing his luxury suite during a brawl with then-girlfriend, Kate Moss (L). (credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

25 East 77th Street, New York, 10075
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Designed by famed architects, Schwartz & Gross in the Roaring Twenties, the hotel earned a mark on the map in 1994 when actor Johnny Depp trashed his luxury suite during a lovers brawl with then-girlfriend Kate Moss. Depp was arrested at the posh hotel where his damages amounted to $10,000. In 2010, the Mark popped up in the headlines yet again when a tape – shot in one of the guestrooms – of Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson allegedly attempting to sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew surfaced. Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Grant have also stayed at the hotel, and dined at the hotel’s Jean George “The Mark” restaurant.

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Jennifer Friedel is from Manhattan and has previously worked in travel & hospitality PR.

Comments (7)
  1. Kraig Okey says:

    I love this article a lot. I will definitely be back. Hope that I can read far more informative posts then. Will likely be sharing your knowledge with all of my associates!

  2. Veta Adamik says:

    Thanks for any other wonderful post. The place else may just anyone get that type of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such information.

  3. Loren Forney says:

    great post, thanks

  4. Lean Mcgaffee says:

    Thoughtful article.

  5. Stanton Oto says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post! It has been very useful. I wish that you’ll carry on sharing your wisdom with us.

  6. Mae__Westside says:

    Park Central keeps on insisting Mae West stayed there, however, when I wrote to them and asked WHEN WAS MAE there, they chose not to reply. Why?
    Pretty fishy, eh?

    Come up and see Mae . . .

  7. johnny says:

    They all have Bedbugs.

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