A pillar of New York City travel has gotten a major facelift... mostly. What was Le Parker Meridien hotel for nearly 40 years is reborn as the elegant new Thompson Central Park. And while the property renovation is so extensive that it's barely recognizable from its former incarnation, its new owners have made the key decision to leave one thing exactly as it was.

Burger Joint, the hole-in-the-wall restaurant with graffitied, wood-paneled walls, will remain exactly as it was. A New York City institution, the restaurant serves only burgers and fries and regularly lands on citywide 'Best Of' dining lists.

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Burger Joint's graffitied, wood-paneled walls ©Laura Motta

Its no-frills ethos and perfectly flavorful, unabashedly greasy, uncomplicated menu made it stand out in the neighborhood where it was surrounded by high rise office towers and upscale hotels. And it was a shocking contrast to the plush hotel lobby surrounding it. Hidden behind a curtain, the only clue that it existed was a neon sign in the shape of a  cheeseburger. If it was lit, Burger Joint was serving. (If you're wondering how influential Burger Joint was on New York City's dining scene, consider Shake Shack, which now has 19 locations in Manhattan alone. It opened two years after Burger Joint and has a logo that looks eerily like a certain neon sign.)

After an ownership change in 2019 that transformed the hotel, briefly, into simply The Parker, it became a Hyatt and was fully gutted and re-imagined during the pandemic. It opens this week with 350 of its nearly 600 rooms open. The remaining rooms will come online in the spring of 2022, along with updated conference spaces.

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The spacious rooms at Thompson Central Park feature lots of teal blues and greens ©Laura Motta

Along with the fully refreshed lobby and check-in space, the redo of the rooms features lots of teal blues and greens with gold-tone hardware, along with the signature "Thompson bed," which has a white duvet with a navy border stripe. (I especially liked the green velvet chaise in some of the rooms.) Musical-themed objects -- a vintage-style radio alarm clock, coffee table books, wall art -- pay homage to the hotel's location near Broadway and Carnegie Hall.

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The newly renovated Thompson Central Park has held onto Burger Joint ©Laura Motta

One final note. You might want to double check the address if you're booking this hotel. The Thompson Central Park, which is now a Hyatt property, was formerly Le Parker Meridien. In a strange quirk of big-brand New York City real estate, there is also a relatively new Le Meridien hotel, a Marriott property that opened in 2019. These two properties are approximately one block apart, so map our your arrival carefully.

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