The Martha Washington was New York’s first lodging solely for professional women — an ahead-of-its-time clientele, for certain. It still serves a cutting-edge crowd, as visitors flock to the stylish rooms and a much-talked-about, in-house restaurant.
Underneath the bold, modern red and black flags that hang outside, its Renaissance Revival façade transports you right back to 1903 and a classic age for Midtown hotels. The property went co-ed in 1998 and underwent spiffy repackaging this year, now offering rooms “exclusively for everyone.” Home to one of the city’s hottest new pizza spots, a swank cocktail lounge, and rooms truly fit for any states(wo)man, it’s the stellar New York hospitality at MWH that can never go out of style.
Inside, the heat from two black brick pizza ovens fills the high-ceilinged dining room. Join the Saturday late-afternoon crowd at Marta, a reinvigorated Roman pizzeria from Chef Nick Anderer and Danny Meyer. Take a seat in a lushly cushioned brown booth or at the marble counter – right in front of the ovens. Order up the polpettine di coniglio and enjoy deliciously tender rabbit meatballs with black olives and ricotta. You may wax poetic about white truffles on a luxurious tartufata pizza, but even this is rivaled by the coppa cotta: shoulder ham with arugula, fontina, and onion. The pie comes out steaming hot, and with an egg on top. It’s possibly the tastiest bite this side of The Boot.
After all this, an after-dinner drink is in order. Head past the front desk and upstairs to Veronica’s, the MWH cocktail bar. Beneath white columns – definitely swiped from the first first lady’s bedroom – the cozy alcove is fitted with dark tables and slouchy striped chairs with fury pillows. Guests sip classic cocktails, both fizzy and stirred, or one of the seven draft options for brew aficionados. The joint is named for Veronica Lake, the glamorous 1940s film star and former hotel resident (a black-and-white headshot honors her at the bar). Feel the radiant Old Hollywood charm as you sip on a “death in the afternoon,” a classic Champagne cocktail flavored with absinthe.
Finally at your room, you find your bed, desk, and side table drawers decked in black and white: prim and proper, but sleekly minimal for the 21st century: It’s the stylish Midtown apartment that today’s little girls dream of. The roomy, slate-tiled bathroom, with its round backlit mirror, belongs on an interstellar ship rather than in the heart of the city. Above your bed are silhouettes of – you guessed it – Martha Washington. Only she’s had a bit of an update, as she’s depicted enjoying some pleasures of the boozy and smokey variety. The detail punctuates the whole evening: Martha Washington has gotten with the times, and she’s never looked better.