7. The Barbizon was Not NYC’s Sole Women-Only Hotel

The Martha Washington Hotel, Image via NYPL Digital Archives

While the Barbizon may be New York City’s most famous and most glamorous women-only hotel, it was not the only one of its kind. The first was the Martha Washington Hotel which opened in 1903 on Madison Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets. At the time, it was illegal for a female traveler to rent a room by herself after 6:00 pm, unless, Bren writes, “she was hauling a heavy travel trunk to prove she was no prostitute.”

The twelve-story Martha Washington Hotel with its all-female staff and hundreds of female guests was an anomaly of its time, but soon, others followed, all catering to the new growing demographic of young, single, working women. The Business Woman’s Hotel opened in 1914 followed by The Allerton House for Women in 1920 and the American Women’s Association Hotel in 1928. “But it was the Barbizon Hotel that truly captured America’s imagination, Bren writes.