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The Roosevelt Hotel, opened on September 23, 1924, was built by Niagara Falls businessman Frank A. Dudley and operated by the United Hotels Company. The hotel was designed by the architecture firm George B. Post & Son, and leased from The New York State Realty and Terminal Company, a division of the New York Central Railroad. The hotel, built at a cost of $12,000,000 (equivalent to $179,021,000 in 2019), was the first to incorporate store fronts instead of lounges in its sidewalk facades, as the latter had been prohibited due to Prohibition. The Roosevelt Hotel was at one time linked with Grand Central Terminal via an underground passage that connected the hotel to the train terminal. The Roosevelt housed the first guest pet facility and child care service in The Teddy Bear Room and had the first in-house doctor.
Conrad Hilton purchased the Roosevelt in 1943 calling her "a fine hotel with grand spaces" and even though he eventually owned many other hotels in New York, including The Plaza and The Waldorf Astoria, he chose the Roosevelt's Presidential Suite as his home. In 1947, the Roosevelt became the first hotel to have a television set in every room.
Beginning in 1979, the hotel was leased by the Pakistan International Airlines through its investment arm PIA Investments Ltd. ("PIA"), with an option to purchase the building after 20 years. Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia was one of the investors in the 1979 deal. In 1999, PIA exercised their option and bought the hotel for $36.5 million, after a legal battle with owner Paul Milstein, who claimed it was worth much more. In 2005, PIA bought out its Saudi partner in a deal that included the prince's share in Hôtel Scribe in Paris in exchange for $40 million and PIA's share of the Riyadh Minhal Hotel (a Holiday Inn located on property owned by the prince). PIA has since controlled 99 percent interest in the hotel, while the Saudis have only 1 percent
In July 2007, after a major $65 million (equivalent to $80,147,000 in 2019) renovation, PIA announced that it was putting the hotel up for sale. The increasing profitability of the hotel, at the same time as the airline itself started to incur massive losses, resulted in the sale being abandoned. On January 1, 2011 The Roosevelt Hotel's General Manager stated the hotel is once again undergoing extensive renovations but will remain open during the process.
In July 2020, Pakistan's Cabinet Committee on Privatization decided to run the hotel through a joint venture rather than privatising it.[