My very first visit to New York City was with my father for my 18th birthday, during the holiday season. We stayed in the hallowed Waldorf Astoria Hotel and went to three plays in three nights. What a magical weekend – I was hooked on NYC!
In the last 10 years I have been to New York City no fewer than 20 times. I have stayed at a different hotel every time, and have only returned to one or two restaurants multiple times. Not because the experiences were bad and I am on a search to find a place worthy of a return visit, but because the choices are so many, it is hard to limit the experiences in this vast and eclectic city.
I will list as many hotels and restaurants as I can remember, and attach a mini-review as well as pertinent info such as price and location. The post will be done in two parts, as there is so much to share.
PART 1: HOTEL HIATUS
Most of my decision-making of where to stay revolves around the reason for being in NYC. Family vacations. Visiting my daughter while she attended Columbia University. Business trips with my husband. Visiting my daughter while she works in Lower Manhattan. Idea search for this blog.
Every time I come to NYC I learn more and more why this place draws people in like it does – whether you are there for daytime sightseeing or the acclaimed nightlife. The hotels are as diverse as the clientele that frequent them. Where do these people come from? How did they choose to stay in a specific hotel? Every time I come to NYC I am amazed at how many different hotels I come across that I never knew existed – from the small side street boutique hotel to the massive main avenue hotel – yet they all seem full. There is a hotel to fit the right nitch for every unique demographic.
It is hard to decide what criteria dictates a status star, because every person’s needs are different. So all I can do is share what stood out to me and let my readers decide what hits home with them. The star ratings are taken from the rating system from booking.com.
The London NYC: 5-star; $429; modern, but comfy; nice size rooms – most with a large sitting area and nice size bathrooms; Midtown; younger clientele; Gordon Ramsay restaurant; great service.
The Plaza (Fairmont): 5-star; $520; classic traditional, ornate; large rooms and huge opulent bathrooms with gold-plated faucets; Central Park/Fifth Avenue; older clientele; Afternoon Tea and sitting area; great service; overpriced for condition of rooms and lounge areas, but still an amazing experience.
The Surrey Hotel: 5-star: $665, boutique hotel in grey/black/white motif – a mix of modern with a classic traditional flair; nice size rooms; Upper East Side; mixed age clientele; Cornelia Spa – a must indulgence often frequented by celebs; small lounge area, no bar; great service – very personalized.
Trump SoHo: 5-star; $595; modern, comfy, large rooms in warm earth tones; everything automated; SoHo; younger clientele; Koi restaurant; decent size lounge area, not overly comfy; very good service – but below what I would expect from a Trump property.
The Benjamin: 5-star; $349; decent sized rooms and bathrooms in classic traditional mono-toned color themes; Midtown-East; older clientele; service and room conditions lacking for a 5-star hotel but is somewhat made up for in competitively priced rooms.
Waldorf Astoria (Hilton): 5-star; $429; large rooms in classic traditional warm pastel/floral colors; Midtown; older clientele; service good, but a bit stand-offish; great brunch.
Westin-Times Square: 4-star; $380; nice size and nicely appointed modern rooms; Times Square; ask for a higher floor to get away from noise of Times Square and get amazing views; Shula’s Steakhouse; large, but noisy lounge area; service typical of a chain hotel – solid but nothing special.
The Empire Hotel: 4-star; $499; room nice size, but bathrooms small and no doors on showers – water goes everywhere; modern, comfy, earth-tone colors; Upper Westside/Lincoln Center; younger clientele; Bar Boulud across the street; medium-sized lounge area; mediocre service – not very personable.
Park Lane Hotel (Helmsley): 4-star; $339; decent size rooms in an old world European floral charm; Central Park/Midtown; older clientele; no real lounge area; service very good, but rooms and interior in need of an update – room price offsets need for renovation.
W – Union Square: 4-star; $410; nice size rooms – smaller bathroom, modern, comfy, primary colors; Union Square; younger clientele; nice bar area and lounge area; service good – a bit slow, elevators slow.
Hotel Belleclaire: 4-star; $259; boutique hotel with modern/classic small rooms; Upper Westside; mixed clientele; small lounge area; service okay, not very polished; whole experience and price more in line with a 3-star hotel.
New York Palace: 4-star; $329; large ornate old stone building; rooms modern/classic; Midtown; diverse clientele; nice size rooms and bathrooms; nice size and comfy lounge areas and bar; great place to stay for Christmas holidays – beautifully decorated.
Bryant Park Hotel: 4-star; $495; smaller, funky, modern rooms; (lower) Midtown; younger clientele; great location across from Bryant Park and the New York Library; you don’t come here for the service or the comfy rooms – but for the local and the chance to see celebs. Overpriced.
Gansevoort Hotel: 4-star; $455; modern, comfy nice size rooms; Meatpacking District; younger clientele; great roof top pool and lounge/bar; medium size lounge area in main lobby and nice bar; good service, and a good location to a lot of great restaurants.
The Strand: 4-star; $299; modern/classic, comfy rooms; (lower) Midtown; younger clientele; well priced for location and rooms.
Smyth – Thompson Hotel: 4-star; $399; modern, comfy, dark rooms with pops of primary colors; Tribeca; younger clientele; nice sized rooms, quiet; a good price for amenities and location.
The Wythe Hotel: 4-star; $490; big open industrial rooms, each with a unique theme reminiscent of the area; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; younger clientele; no lounge area, but nice bar/restaurant on main floor; great rooftop bar that usually has a long waiting line to get in to – unless you are staying there. Pricey, but something fun and different.
Sofitel New York: 4-star; $449; modern classic, large rooms; Midtown; mixed clientele; nothing special, but a good location – good family hotel.
Grand Hyatt: 4-star; $329; modern/classic style rooms in need of an update; Midtown (east) – Grand Central; business clientele; nothing special, but good price.
Affinia Dumont: 4-star; $399; decent size rooms in a modern/classic comfy motif using lots of reds; Midtown (east); mixed clientele; nothing special, but good price for size of rooms and it is right down the street from the Empire State Building.
Intercontinental New York – Times Square: 4-star; $389; modern/classic business oriented rooms; Times Square; mixed/business clientele; nice rooms for a good price – good location for Times Square.