Researching a place to stay in New York City is a bit overwhelming. It's such a large city, with so many different areas to choose from and tons of hotels and apartments. I turned for help to a New York City expert from nycgo.com, the official online guide to NYC. She recommended that we try the Best Western Plus Hospitality House on Manhattan's east side. This small, apartment-style hotel is centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, close to the subway, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and Fifth Avenue shopping.
Whenever possible on our travels I like to book suites or apartments. I find it makes life so much easier when travelling with kids. For one thing, we have the use of a kitchen, allowing us to prepare snacks, breakfast and meals. This can help us save big dollars, because we don't have to go to restaurants for every meal. Plus, it's always nice to have an extra room so that (hopefully) you can get the kids off to bed and sit back and relax with a book or by watching television. We loved our little New York kitchen. It had a microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, dishes, cutlery and dish soap.
Our late-night snacking sessions were given an immediate boost by the complimentary snack basket that greeted us upon our arrival. There were chocolates on the dining table too. The Best Western Plus Hospitality House also has free breakfast served daily, with a range of pastries, coffee, tea, breads, cereals and make-your-own waffles. We stocked the fridge with a variety of beverages so we could refresh after long sightseeing expeditions.
From the kitchen window, we could see...a brick wall. I even loved that because it reminded me that I was in The Big Apple. I love the city! We could also see the deck next door, on which was a huge collection of potted herbs protected with barbed wire. (From animals or people? We weren't sure.)
The bathroom was stocked with a selection of toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, soaps and shower caps.
Our bathroom was stylish and in good shape. The sink was slightly clogged up on our first day, but I told the front desk in the morning and it was fixed by the time we returned to the hotel that evening.
The Best Western Plus Hospitality House has free Wifi, which is clearly a necessity nowadays. The kids are constantly tied to their iPads, my husband to a game on his phone and me to my laptop. A free newspaper is delivered daily too, for those who like their news the old-fashioned way.
Our apartment was clean and roomy with a comfy king size bed in the bedroom, a living room with a pull-out couch and a dining area. The pull-out's mattress was thin so we requested and received a sponge mattress topper. Cots are available too. Both the living room and the bedroom had window air conditioners and tinted windows so the suite was pleasantly cool. Plus the hum of the air conditioner acted as "white noise," blocking out any potential street noise. There were ear plugs in the night table drawer too, just in case noise became an issue.
Turns out, on most of our four nights in the hotel, we couldn't get the kids to bed early, so we left them in the living room and watched TV in the bedroom to unwind from our busy New York days. I have to say I loved feeling like we had our own New York apartment. And not even a small one at that! The ceilings were high too, giving it a roomy feel.
The hallway between the living room/dining area and the bathroom/bedroom had a linen closet. There was also a closet in the foyer and a big closet in the bedroom, making it easy to tuck our things away and keep the apartment tidy.
There are just 33 suites at the Best Western Plus Hospitality House, so, if you're thinking of going, book early! Before our trip, I noted that some online reviewers complained about the hotel's tiny lobby and elevator. I'm not sure I understand that complaint. It's Manhattan after all. Spaces are smaller. And all you have to do is walk through the lobby. You're not going to sleep there. In terms of security, there was always somebody at the front desk, and you need your room key to activate the elevator.
The breakfast area can be crowded depending on what time you go, but there is the possibility of taking the food up to your apartment if you like. There is a small but stylish enclosed balcony outside the breakfast area too, but there was construction on the building next door while we were there, making noise on the patio an issue. (A warning about the construction was clearly indicated on the hotel's website.)
There is a pizza place conveniently located right next to the hotel, and this pretty restaurant (San Martin Restaurant) right next door to that. We had a pizza from the pizza place one night and the family enjoyed it. (My section was free of cheese and pretty much everything else but sauce, so it was a bit dull.) We didn't try San Martin so I can't report on that. The neighbourhood is nice, and on the "upscale" side. It's close to shopping, but there's so much to see in New York City that I'd rather shop elsewhere. The kids insisted on hitting the NBA store and the American Girl store though. We got that out of the way asap and moved onto the fun stuff.
Travelling into New York City By Car
I'm not gonna lie - we were a bit scared about driving straight into New York City. But it wasn't so bad. (I say that as the person in the passenger seat!) Traffic was extremely busy, as you would expect, but we basically travelled from the Lincoln Tunnel straight across town, without too many turns, so it was manageable. You just have to keep your wits about you - there's lots of honking! We parked at a parking garage near the hotel. The hotel has an arrangement with them, so I believe there is a reduction in the regular parking rate. We paid $35 a day, which isn't all that bad for New York City. When we arrived, we went straight to the parking garage and then rolled/carried all our stuff down the street. But we smartened up on our way home. We loaded all our stuff on a cart and I waited with it on the sidewalk until my husband got the van. We blocked a lane of traffic for a minute but the Best Western Plus Hospitality House is not on a super busy street (relative to other streets) and we didn't even get honked at.
You can read more about the amenities at the Best Western Plus Hospitality House on the hotel's website. All this writing about New York City is making me want to go back!
Have you been to New York City? Are you planning to go?