It's not hard to find good restaurants in New York, but I often get asked for tips on where to stay where you won't find yourself nestling up with bedbugs or re-financing your mortgage.
Hotels in New York are hair raisingly expensive. However, I'm a big believer that hair cuts and hotel rooms are not the place to scrimp - whatever your budget, go for the best you can afford. I've listed some options for all budgets below. I hear ya - you don't go to New York to hang out in your hotel room. But, for me, a great hotel can make the difference between an ok trip and a wonderful, high-fiving-yourself-all-the-way-down-Bleeker-Street one - it's the magnolia buttermilk icing on the already formidable cake. And I have a theory that anyone who doesn't absolutely love New York stayed in shit accommodation in bad location - that's not good value. So...
If a roof top pool with views over the Manhattan skyline is what you're after, allow me to introduce you to the The Gansevoort Park Avenue.
The funky modern decor, spacious rooms and cocktail bar with balcony and staggering New York views will have you at "hello" - and that's before you're drinking your Cosmo by the pool. We were swimming before breakfast and there's huge beds for lounging in as you plan the attack on the day's schedule of eating. (Yes, we had a spreadsheet. Seriously.)
Its midtown location makes it central - and it's just up the road from boutique neighbour The Ace Hotel, home to trendy restaurants, the John Dory Oyster Bar, The Breslin and the Stumptown coffee roasters for your morning fix.
All New York hotels are ridiculously expensive these days so we thought it good value to pay around £200 per night for a Deluxe Room. It's not as expensive as its sibling, Hotel Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District, and what price to rest your weary bones by the amazing roof top pool?
Gansevoort, 420 Park Avenue South, www.gansevoortpark.com
If it's a more budget option you're after, these are my picks:
- The Sohotel - Downtown, in the heart of the Bowery, this budget boutique hotel is in my favourite location of all. It's on Broome Street, just down the road from Pulinos and La Esquina, on the verge of Chinatown and Little Italy. It's in my favourite shopping and eating hub of New York, and only a short stroll from The Meatball Shop, Torrisi Italian Specialities and Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side. The communal areas have funky furnishings, exposed brickwork and free WiFi. The rooms are quite small and basic, but they're certainly decent and each with flat screen TVs and comfortable beds and bathrooms. Generally has really good rates.
- The Mulberry Street Hotel - This one's even further Downtown, on Mulberry Street in the bowels of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The street outside and the foyer look a bit dodgy. But don't despair - the massive rooms make up for it. We had 2 queensized beds, a large TV and a decent bathroom. Absolutely no frills but it's spacious, safe and clean - a bargain. And you'll be very close to all the Lower East side hang outs - an area that lays claim to about 80% of all my favourite places to eat in New York.
If you can afford a splurge:
- I love, love, love The Standard. Although the rooms are small, every one has spectacular views over the Hudson or the City. The fittings are super cool and nothing less than The Standard's amazing gym overlooking New York would have me near a treadmill on holiday (I stretched against it). It's also home to the hangout of hipsters, the Boom Boom bar, which is a great place to sip cocktails overlooking the twinkling lights of New York. The location in the middle of the Meatpacking District is also idyllic for gourmands - you have The Standard Grill downstairs and Pastis, Fatty Crab, Magnolia cupcakes and Del Posto (although I don't rate the later) all within a few paces. And you can hire bikes right out the front or stroll along the highline right next to the hotel. Just make sure you close the curtains in those intimate moments - the hotel is infamous for giving those driving home along the highway an eyeful on a regular basis.
- The Soho Grand - Right in the heart of Soho, the rooms have great views and it's hard to fault the location. It's got the chic factor. However, the rooms are quite small and it might be too cool for school for some. It's not far to stroll down for breakfast at Balthazar.
- TPG says 60 Thompson is awesome - way better than the Soho Grand. I can vouch for the roof top bar for cocktails - fabulous!
Somewhere in between:
- Night Hotel - The midtown location is not my favourite, but this hotel was great value when we stayed there a few years ago. This is a small, stylish, boutique hotel with funky, black and white furnishings and lots of "artistic" (ie. don't go with your grandmother") photos lining the walls.
- The Hudson - This hip, uptown hotel is right near Central Park and has a fabulous, always bustling bar. The rooms are plush, although again not huge.
I haven't listed all the rates as they change all the time and it depends what time of year you go. I have also obtained good deals on www.hotels.com for some of these places in the past.
If you have others to recommend, please do leave a comment.