New York City has never seen such a surge in visitors
By Max Hartshorne
Everyone, it seems, includes the Big Apple on any USA tour. In 2016, New York had 60.3 estimated visitors. Of these 12.65 million were from outside the US!
There are 113,000 hotel rooms in the Big City, and by 2019, NYC and Company predict that there will be 135,000.
So where do all of these visitors stay?
On a recent trip to New York, we stayed at three very different hotels, that each serves their own special niche.
For anyone planning an NYC vacation, the period between January and March is the absolute best time of the year to find the lowest room rates across the board.
Best Western PLUS Hospitality House: An Apartment for the price of a Room
This is more than a hotel, it’s a real apartment.
In fact, these one and two-bedroom ‘hotel rooms’ are apartments, complete with full kitchens, large living rooms with couches and a dining room table, a work desk with an ergonomic chair, and generously large bedrooms.
I think these rooms are bigger than most NYC apartments!
The Best Western PLUS is located right in the heart of things, at 145 East 49th St. They offer breakfast in the mornings, traditional BestWestern fare, such as waffles, cooked eggs, sausage, good coffee, fruit, and bagels.
Sam, the night desk clerk during my stay, was here all night long and made us feel very welcome.
Some guests have commented that the decor here is decidedly circa 1980, but it’s like staying in a friend’s apartment. Who cares?
In years past, internet connections were always somewhat of a pain, and the ironic thing was always that the more expensive the hotel, the higher the price for the Wi-Fi.
That’s all gone away now, in the Best Western and most NYC hotels now, it’s easy to get online.
LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi
All of these hotels offer fast, free internet. But now the city is even more connected. Right outside on the street, New York is now covered with 7500 free Wi-Fi hotspots, that not only let people jump on their Wi-Fi, but offer a built-in tablet you can type in to get Google maps or any other website.
The kiosks replaced thousands of public telephone booths, which nobody uses any more. There is also a charging port to top up your phone on the street!
Room for Four
This Best Western apartment/hotel room could easily sleep four, two in the bedroom, and two on the pull-out couch, so the posted nightly rate of around $439 for the one-bedroom, or $649 for two-bedroom becomes very reasonable. But it is easy to find a much lower rate, between $144 and $180 is often what you will pay during NYC’s low season, January through March.
In this age of Airbnb, this old school style hotel has it figured out!
Additional services in the hotel include available local babysitters, baggage storage, a business center, and printer and valet laundry and dry cleaning.
The Eastside of Manhattan is where many of the city’s best attractions are located, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller Center, and St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Best Western PLUS Hospitality House
145 East 49th St.
New York, NY
Sofitel New York: Paris Class in the Heart of Manhattan
For something a bit more luxe, the world-famous Sofitel New York, with 398 rooms on 30 floors, was another excellent choice for our New York City visit.
The Sofitel New York is at 45 West 44th St., on the other side of Manhattan but still right in the thick of the excitement of Manhattan.
The Sofitel New York, which is owned by the French company, Accor, is one of 120 properties on five continents.
Many of the front desk staff even have that wonderful Parisien accent that makes you feel like you’re in France.
It has a stylish urban bar and restaurant called Gaby’s Brasserie Francaise, with French cuisine ‘with a twist of American flavor,” as they describe it. It’s run by executive chef Sylvain Harribey and reservations are a must.
With high ceilings and a wall that opens up to the street in the warmer months, Gaby’s is a bit more upscale than the definition of a brasserie, which usually means less formal.
During our visit, it was NYC Restaurant week, so they offered a specially-priced menu, three courses for $42.
We enjoyed the Creekstone short ribs with winter vegetable ragout, appetizer salads of grilled halloumi cheese and fresh asparagus with baby kale, the regular menu includes daily specials and lavish entrees like duck breast and Bronzini filet.
The cuisine is as top-notch as the hotel’s reputation. The only small complaint was that it was cold in the big drafty room during our romantic January dinner.
The Sofitel is famous for its classy touches–like an orchid next to the bathroom sink and in the living room, and dramatically designed rooms that feel like a high-end Paris apartment.
Sofitel New York
45 West 44th St
New York, NY
The Renwick, Where Great Authors Once Slept
The Renwick is part of Hilton’s upscale boutique brand, Curio by Hilton, and is a smaller and more intimate lodging experience with 173 rooms. The Renwick is located at 118 East 40th St. and also offers suites that combine a living room with a sumptuous bedroom. The Renwick is four miles from Grand Central Station and just a mile from the Museum of Modern Art.
Three of the Renwick’s rooms are dedicated to a famous writer. My room was themed after Thomas Mann, the author of Dr. Faustus and Nobel prize winner from Germany.
Mann’s stern visage is painted on the wall, and nearby, some of his books sit on a shelf. Two other suites are decorated with books and images of John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who actually lived here when it was an apartment house in the 1920s.
When I checked into the Renwick, I was greeted by two friendly front desk staff, Jasmine and Myra, who wore matching leather jackets, which went well with the wooden rustic decor of the compact lobby.
Downstairs is the hotel’s restaurant, Bedford and Co, which is run by chef John DeLucie, which features ‘rustic American cuisine’ for breakfast lunch and dinner.
DeLucie’s troubles in 2015 with his former partners are behind him, and this solo effort seems to be a better fit for the well-known NYC chef. He said his inspiration for the restaurant was traveling to Argentina and thus the wood-fired grill that figures heavily in the cuisine.
If you want something quick you can also pop around the corner to the Bagels and More or many other take-out places on Lexington Avenue.
TripAdvisor’s reviewers have given Bedford and Co kudos for their extensive wine selection and the wood fire that gives prime steaks their special flavors.
The hotel gets an average of 4/1/2 stars out of 5 on TripAdvisor, making it a popular choice.
Many reviewers also hailed the waffles and pancakes served for breakfast.
This time of year, through March, is also a great time to book at the Renwick, with rooms around $159. Regular rates are around $250 a night.
The Renwick Hotel
118 West 40th St.
New York, NY