Every Hotel I've Ever Stayed In: New York City
After living in New York for 10 years, it's a little strange to come back as a visitor. The cool part is that I am getting to experience the city from a different point of view. Now that I'm not in there on a daily basis, I come in to have fun, maybe do a little work, and see friends. I get to act like a tourist, only I know where I'm going. I go to all my fave restaurants and walk down my favorite blocks. And then I get to go back to quiet, boring, cozy comfort in the suburbs. When we have people staying in the apartment we own in Harlem, we opt for hotels. There are endless options in NYC, so I am breaking down the ones I have stayed in, and what I love and didn't love so much!
This trendy hotel is a definitely favorite for my husband and I. We came here on our wedding night because the prices were a welcome change after dropping so much money on our big day, and it looked hip and cool enough for young newlyweds. Located in Long Island City, Queens, it's just a hop, skip and jump away from Manhattan. While the area is safe, it isn't very visually appealing, unless you make your way down to the Long Island City Waterfront, which has stunning views of Manhattan. However, it's right off a decent subway line, boasts a cool bar and restaurant, lots of fun creative sitting areas, and a gym. Once an operating paper factory, the property truly plays into the industrial vibe with giant leather couches, metal lighting, and distressed wood furniture. Rooms vary from small and simple to sprawling and decorative, but they all share features like tiled showers, soft sheets and desk/work areas. We love the rec room's pool and ping pong tables. They offer a community kitchen (some rooms have kitchenettes too) and workspace, and the gym has a really chic loft feel. There's plenty of takeout in the area, our favorite being the burgers at Crave, and a quintessential deli across the street.
This property once housed the offices for the actual LIFE Magazine. The rooms are very blogger-y. All white, gold fixtures, and wrought iron beds. That was pretty much the selling point, as everything else is under construction. It was a little annoying that the hotel didn't do much to compensative for the bar or kitchen not being operational, and work being done all hours of the day. A discount or credit would've been nice. Also, the air conditioning units were pretty dated. A tad loud and not great at eliminating the humidity. After my shower in the microscopic bathroom, the steam dampened everything. To my dismay I slept on slightly moist sheets and pillows all night. Also, why don't all hotels come with a mini fridge standard? I can't stand drinking warm water my entire stay. I would still return after construction though, because the location (close to 34th Street, Herald Sqaure and Penn Station) was great, and from what I could see in their progress, this spot could have major potential. What wasn't covered in tape and cardboard looked chic, and slightly industrial with a dash of 1920s inspo, perfect for Instagram snaps!
Not too far from the LIFE hotel, Park South has a more modern business feel. We were only there for one night, and the staff was super welcoming and friendly. Towards the back there is a library inspired space with comfy chairs and a fireplace. Attached is a bar/resturant/cafe (with good cappuccinos), and there is a small lounge area in the lobby. Speaking of small! The room we got was the smallest I've ever been in at 165 ft². There was a full bed, which is fine for one person, but for 2, let's just call it cozy at best. The sink was plugged for almost entire stay, as we couldn't seem to coordinate a good time for maintenance to come. We figured out how to fix it eventually ourselves. The ironing board came down out of the wall like a murphy bed, and somehow they managed to fit in a desk and a flat screen TV. Apparently there is a rooftop, but I didn't get a chance to check it out.
4. NYLO Hotel
Next to The Paper Factory Hotel, the NYLO is my second favorite. The Upper West Side is just one of the most convenient places in Manhattan for me. Endless restaurant choices, including hotel access to Serafina, a classic NYC spot (their chicken salad is ughhh, so good). A CVS across the street, perfect the inevitable forgotten toiletry. Plenty of clothing stores if you need socks, a fresh shirt etc, as well as movie theaters, bars and coffee shops. There's easy access to anything really: the subway, museums, Central Park, Times Square, you name it. The hotel itself is just as nice: with a dark and moody restaurant and bar, a rooftop terrace with great views, a French elevator system, and friendly staff at the door and desk. I got a complimentary cocktail upon arrival, and my room was small but not impossible. I was excited about the exposed brick walls, but they turned out to be decals, womp womp. Still, I really enjoyed catching up on work in the speakeasy-like lounge. One negative would be the bar staff. It seemed like they knew a particular group and spent most of their time chatting with them, pretty much ignoring me and the few other people trying to grab a drink. At slow points they would even start wiping down the countertops instead of turning around to take our orders. But I didn't need to be at the bar anyway, I work early hours!
5. Aloft Harlem
I've stayed at plenty of Alofts all over and this New York location is just as nice. I booked a room for my mother and grandmother while they were visiting me in Harlem, so while I didn't sleep there I basically stayed until bedtime. The rooms are clean and simple. My grandmother loved the walk in shower (at 90, you don't really want to climb into a tub) and the bar/lobby is modern, bright and colorful. There's a small area where you can buy snacks and breakfast items, and while there's no restaurant it's easy to get takeout. The particular street it's on isn't the absolute best (across from a fairly active police station), but it's right off the hustle and bustle of 125th street, where you can check out the famous street vendors, go to people watch, catch a movie, or find some modern soul food. You can also head downtown about 10 blocks for a pretty cool, trendier part of Harlem. It's also walking distance to the express A and D subway lines, which will put you in midtown in 15 minutes.
This incredible place has so much to offer. While a hotel is just a place to lay your head, it can definitely play a big role in your New York experience. It may seem daunting trying to choose, and expensive to book, but the key is to browse the web for the best deals, and booking in advance (and sometimes directly from the hotel's site) can save you big bucks. This list will be updated as I explore other hotels in the area! I can include Airbnbs too -- although I find being able to automatically book a hotel last minute in NYC is easier. I'm just getting started, and I have a TON of hotels I've always wanted to try, including some pretty fancy ones. Have a questions about where to stay on a trip to the city never sleeps?
Let me know in the comments!