In Washington Heights, a Stay at the New Radio Hotel
By Paul Shoul
In the heart of one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of New York City, the new Radio Hotel in Washington Heights hits all of the checkboxes for a great place to stay.
The rooms are airy and light, the staff is exemplary, it has one of the most exciting new restaurants in the city, and there is plenty to see right outside the front door. The whole project is a testament to possibility.
The 221-room hotel is located in a new 23-story mixed-use building. On the 12th floor, Above The Heights is a private event space offering a combined 9,219 sq ft of interior 4,191 sq ft terraces with unobstructed city views. It can host up to 500 people.
Jalao restaurants Co-Owner Antonio Espaillat manages over 60 radio stations in the Dominican Republic.
Thus his choice of the name Radio Hotel. There is even a space for podcasts in the lobby. Washington Heights has one of the largest Dominican populations in the country.
The neighborhood is incredibly dynamic, throbbing with people, music, open-air vegetable and fruit markets, and Dominican restaurants.
It is also home to a large Orthodox Jewish community. And only about a mile away from Yankee Stadium. You can get Nathan’s hot dog, a Knish, and an empanada, all within a mile of each other. What the heck more could you want?
The Radio Hotel: How it Feels
There is always a door person to let you into the lobby that leads to Jalao Restaurant, the front desk for the hotel, and elevators to the rooms and event spaces.
It has a contemporary-hip-techno feel, adorned with the work of Dominican artists, a wall-sized, larger-than-life digital display, and a nice little coffee bar.
I liked the feel of the space and met a few folks. One couple was visiting their daughter that lived in the Heights. Another man was waiting anxiously for the opening game at Yankee Stadium, and two professors from Yeshiva University were grabbing a cup of coffee.
“We are so glad this place opened. It’s a great place to bring folks, meet people different from us, and finally, get a good cup of coffee!”
Heading up to my room, even the elevators had art in them.
I stayed in room 1106, a 450 sq ft. king-sized suite. It felt spacious, airy, and bright. The view of the city from the three large windows was spectacular.
A nice comfy couch was next to a good workstation, with a phone and digital radio, charging ports, and very fast free wifi.
The large double bed was just how I like it: not too hard or soft, with outlets well placed on the side end tables to charge a phone.
The large flat-screen T.V. was well positioned to watch easily from the couch or bed, with complimentary access to streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora.
There is a safe for valuables next to a small space with hangers, a mini refrigerator, a hair dryer, and a clothing steamer.
The bathroom with a walk-in rain shower was super clean, with bright orange tiles and plenty of endless hot water.
The room comes with 24/7 access to a Fitness Center.
Jalao Restaurant and Bar
This place was hopping when I ate there. It had a very cool vibe with an open kitchen in the rear and beautiful cocktails at the bar.
Washington Heights has one of the largest Dominican populations in the country. Their take on traditional Dominican food was inspirational.
I started with a La Viajera cocktail; Brugal añejo rum / spiced syrup/lime/ginger beer. It was refreshing and brought me back to my travels in the D.R.
I had the delicious Ahi Tuna with passion fruit/pomegranate/lime/ginger and the Chicharrón y Casabe. Marinated crispy pork / caramelized “al caldero” plantain / Akaka sauce for appetizers.
It’s hard to express how good both of these dishes were.
The tuna was fresh, with a bright citrus undertone paired beautifully with crunchy bites of pomegranate and ginger.
I am a fan of Chicharron but am often overwhelmed by the overall heavy fattiness of it. Jalao did this right. The pork was perfectly crispy and juicy, complemented by the savory wasakaka sauce and the sweetness of the caramelized plantains.
The finale of the evening was the larger-than-life Pecao Frito. A whole large fish
shaped into a beautiful arch. It is 2 lb of deep fried fish / tostones/moro de guandules/poblano tartar /mojo/wasakaka / mayo criolla/avocado cream.
Please do not make the mistake I did. It is meant to serve two people and was so good that I attempted to eat it alone.
I loved staying at the Radio Hotel. I have no doubt that anyone who appreciates excellent accommodations, great food, and an incredible part of New York City will also.
Free Parking Too
Oh, Did I mention that they also have free parking? In New York? Forget about it. It’s a total grand slam.
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