Manhattan is a favorite destination during the holidays, with Times Square and its major brand hotels the most popular lodging choice. During peak times, availability might be slim and the prices high, however, not to mention massive crowds of holiday tourists. Ever thought of venturing out of your comfort zone when deciding on lodging accommodations? Here are a few suggestions for a stay outside the tourist fray.
Brooklyn – Boutique hotels in Brooklyn are reasonably priced and provide a comfortable respite from the hustle and bustle of midtown. Originally a sponge factory, the 50-room Henry Norman Hotel, located in Greenpoint, is a short walk to subway stations heading to Manhattan. The Henry Norman is one of three choices in a family of industrial chic hotels, located close to parks, shopping and restaurants. The décor is always changing with artwork by local artist, Kip Jacobs, who brings his funky, eclectic vibe with upside down lamps hanging from the ceiling to original artwork filling up the hallways. He even makes use of a 3-D printer to add whimsical touches to his creations.
Greenpoint provides a hipster neighborhood lending a young vibe to the area, creating a safe, family-friendly spot to relax after a day fighting the crowds in midtown Manhattan. This area also houses the site of many Marvel superhero movies as well as Netflix and ABC Studios shows such as Spiderman, Daredevil and the Luke Cage series. Actors and production execs stay at the Henry Norman, some for months at a time during a shooting.
Restaurants are aplenty within walking distance including The Syrena Bakery, on Norman Avenue, where you’ll find an array of bagels, egg sandwiches and sweets for breakfast. Fill out your day with Portuguese for lunch at Raizes Churrascaria or Calexico for supper. These are just a few of the options within the area, and, if the weather’s lousy, the Henry Norman will happily shuttle you back and forth.
Sister properties, the 130-room Box House Hotel and the smaller Franklin Guesthouse, with its lofts and suites, also share the commissioned artwork of Kip Jacobs throughout. You might think you are in a museum when walking the halls of these stylish accommodations. Word is that Mr. Jacobs visits quite often and adds to the quirky art from time to time.
Bed & Breakfast in the city – You might not think you’d find a Bed and Breakfast in NYC, however, this lodging experience is a viable option. The charming Ivy Terrace is conveniently located on East 58th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, around the corner from Bloomingdale’s flagship store. Offering six studio apartments, this 3 story walk-up gives you the option of living like a local. Having earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence five years in a row, this little gem, near the Lenox Hill and Sutton Place neighborhoods on the east side, provides a quiet respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The comfort of this property is unparalleled in the city with a location close to Central Park and within walking distance of Rockefeller Center. A December trip is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit, strolling 5th Avenue, taking in the sights and sounds of Christmas, with the welcoming door of Ivy Terrace awaiting your return. Rooms are varied on the first, second and third floors, however, if you can handle the climb, the Zen Room is well worth the effort at the top. Your only worry will be sleeping in late as it is the quietest spot in Manhattan.
Do not confuse the legitimate B&B’s of NYC with the Airbnb brand, however, which currently operates illegally in the city. The affordable Bed & Breakfast option operates within the parameters of the city’s lodging laws, are licensed, inspected, and insured in order to protect guests, and required to pay a variety of taxes. Airbnb hosts do none of these things.
Lower Manhattan – If you insist on staying in a major hotel brand, at least try to move out of the tourist areas of midtown and you might be pleasantly surprised. The Wall Street/Financial District, close to the World Trade Center Memorial, provides many options including the soaring Millenium Hilton. Located directly across from One World Observatory and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, this choice makes sense with subway stations just outside the front entrance. Midtown is a short ride away if you want to head to Macy’s and their wonderful, seasonal windows, or Broadway’s Time Square district.
In addition to the comfort, convenience and customer service, for which the Hilton brand is known, you’ll also benefit from the fascinating views of the 56-floor tower. If the weather turns sour, the new Oculus, directly adjacent, offers the PATH to New Jersey, as well as the Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall. Within this complex, you can walk under West Street into the Winter Garden Atrium for more shopping, restaurants and views of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty.
Public transportation within New York City is massive and offers quick trips to the center of town from anywhere on the island and its neighboring boroughs. Don’t get stuck in massively crowded midtown this holiday season, try something different and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!