HOTEL HOPPING TO A TRIO OF TOP HOTELSBy Marilyn Anderson & Dennis L. Lanning | October 26th, 2010 | Category: Inside the US, Romance on the Road, Travel | 8 comments
We were lucky to be in New York City during Fashion Week in September 2010 to catch a lot of the fashion shows, new designers and fantastic store galas, with parties spilling out onto the streets until late in the night. The only problem we encountered was finding a hotel room, as the fashionistas swarmed into town filling all available rooms.
While the fashion crowd went from studio-to-studio, we went from hotel-to-hotel, moving from one to the next to accommodate each hotel’s prior reservations. Our “hotel hopping” proved to be more fun than trouble, and the beautiful weather and close proximity made our moves easy. It was also economical and healthy; saving on cabs and walking all around the city helped us burn off the accumulated calories of too many desserts at New York’s finest restaurants, bakeries, and coffee houses.
We stayed at 6 different hotels in 7 days and had a blast. This report will cover the first three hotels. A later issue will bring you the other two we happily hopped to on our trip. They were all excellent properties. Your problem will be deciding which of them to stay at on your visit to Manhattan.
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At Only 5 Stories It Towers Above Most!
In the jungle, the Giraffe stands out, towering above all others. It is imbued with grace, elegance, and beauty. Likewise, in the hospitality world of New York City, the Hotel Giraffe stands out—towering above the mundane with its style, elegance, and sophistication. It also provides a level of value in the competitive NYC hotel jungle, offering a host of free amenities and features.
Upon entering, we immediately felt the comforting essence of the stylishly contemporary lobby. We noticed quite a few guests sitting and enjoying the ambiance: two playing chess; one on the hotel’s complimentary laptop; and several others simply relaxing in the pleasant atmosphere. It’s that kind of place.
In the middle of the lobby there is a grand piano, which is played by the hotel’s resident pianist, during the complimentary wine and cheese reception that the Hotel Giraffe hosts Monday through Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. The hotel staff generously pours glasses of wine as well as flutes of Prosecco, northern Italy’s much improved “champagne.” An assortment of artisan cheeses, briny olives, imported crackers and fruit is part of the reception. This is a great early bird treat if you are heading off for the theatre and dinner afterwards.
We arrived on a Sunday, the only day that the hotel’s Happy Hour is dark. However, to our delight, we found a complimentary bottle of wine and a beautiful basket of fruit in our room. The one-bedroom suite had a separate living room with a large flat-screen TV and French doors that opened to a balcony, with a cozy table and chairs overlooking Park Avenue. We could see all the way up to midtown on a beautiful Manhattan evening.
The room décor is burgundy and off-white with dark wood accents, high doors, and elegant wallpaper. The bed and linens were supremely comfortable. There is free high speed Internet and wi-fi. Our corner suite had windows all around. To say Hotel Giraffe offers all the comforts of home is putting it mildly. You feel like you’re home.
The lobby comes fully alive every morning for their complimentary European-style breakfast, served from 7:00 – 10:30 a.m. Those of us who don’t get up early LOVE the fact that their extended hours include us! There are a variety of fresh breads, bagels and pastries, with assorted jams and jellies, cream cheese, peanut butter and the latest taste craze, Nutella. Our favorite is the fresh fruit bowl, brimming with a huge assortment of melons and berries. Glass pitchers filled with different juices line the counter, and guests have their choice of coffee, espresso, cappuccino, or a variety of teas. There are also boxed cereals, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs. A server is available to toast your bread or serve you fresh coffee.
And there are even more amenities for night owls or noshers! Twenty-four hours a day, the lobby offers snacks and beverages. Another nice thing: check-out time is one p.m. Wow, it’s so nice to find a place that doesn’t make you rush, rush, rush—even in a city where rushing seems the norm.
New York is a city like no other. Step outside your hotel door, and there are unlimited places to go, things to enjoy, and spots to eat. We dined nearby at a lovely spot, the Black Duck, which was open on Sunday night, when they screen old James Bond movies!
Walking back to our hotel, we discovered “Curry Hill,” a section of Lexington Avenue with three solid blocks of Indian restaurants, one right after the other. The area was overflowing with folks either eating or waiting to eat. At one particular eatery with a humungous long line, we stopped to ask: Why, when there were so many restaurant choices, were they waiting here? The young lady we talked to answered simply, “They have the best food—absolutely!” It turns out this was “the” Indian in-spot, where Indians-in-the-know all go! We realized we’d have to come back another night to indulge our taste buds here.
Returning to the Hotel Giraffe, we took the elevator up to the Rooftop Garden. It was a beautiful summer night, and we were enraptured by the setting of the ivy-covered pergola, waterfall, and the stunning bronze giraffe sculpture, obviously meant to celebrate its home in the Hotel Giraffe.
If you are looking for a peaceful, elegant, and comfortable haven in New York, this is the spot. Away from the madding crowd, but close enough to hop any subway, bus, or cab, you’ll be overly happy here. The Hotel Giraffe is completely enjoyable and truly feels like your home away from home.
365 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
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Bookmark this Best Seller and You’ll Never Check Out
The Library Hotel is the only lodging in the world we know of where you can choose your floor and your room, based on your favorite reading category! If you love Fashion Design, you can stay in room 700.006; Fairy Tales – 800.005; Dinosaurs -500.005 (the kids will want THAT one!), or Medicine, Law, or maybe Erotic Literature! (Book THAT room early; it fills up fast!)
How does this work, you wonder? The room floors and numbers are based on the Dewey Decimal System, the universal method of organizing subject categories. The hotel “catalog” holds 6,000 volumes in its”stacks” and when you get to your room, you’ll find volumes on your chosen subject, which you can browse through and enjoy, along with all the other wonderful amenities in this hotel.
The location of the hotel is on Library Way (41st Street), 2 blocks from the main branch of the New York Public Library. You’ll know it by the huge stone lions keeping guard out front.
The Library Hotel was the perfect place for us, since Marilyn’s mother was a librarian. In fact, when we arrived, Marilyn offered some of her special “reference material” to the staff at the “circulation” desk. She told them, “When I was growing up, my mother was a librarian. My whole house was arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System. She’d introduce me to her friends as her daughter, Anderson, Marilyn—see Teenager, Hormones, Raging. But I knew that she loved me; every two weeks, she’d renew me!” The staff giggled, and we headed up to our room.
They must’ve thought we were deeply devout because they gave us a room on the Religions floor (12th), number 1200.006, named Ancient Religion (mythology), covering the subject of the beginnings of religion. Was there a message for us in this room selection? We don’t know, but we were on our best behavior the whole time!
Our corner room was bright and airy, with a step-out balcony with views up and down Madison Ave, and across 41st to the Library (Unfortunately, the NYC Library’s exterior is covered now while it is undergoing renovation). Our room with lush king-sized bed, soft, soft linens, down pillows and comforter was spacious and included a full size desk and large flat screen TV. The beautiful contemporary décor assures you that you are in a top luxury hotel.
In addition to the uniquely accessorized rooms, the Library Hotel features a complimentary breakfast each morning and wine and cheese reception every afternoon in the Reading Room on the second floor.
The continental breakfast buffet is lavish, with an inviting fresh fruit bowl, brimming over with melons and berries, homemade granola, artisan bakery products, yogurt, oat meal, fresh juices, and brewed coffee products and tea. As a hotel guest, you can visit the Reading Room any time of day for cappuccino, cafe au lait, espresso, cookies, and whole fruits.
Every afternoon from 5 to 8 p.m., the hotel offers a wine and cheese “Happy Hour” in the Reading Room. Their reception is the perfect opportunity to relax from a day of sightseeing or snack before heading out to a Broadway show. They serve Italian Prosecco and other fine wines, imported and domestic cheeses, and hors d’oeuvres each evening. It’s a real treat, and it’s free, too.
There is a rooftop terrace and bar area on the 14th floor. During the day, you can take your breakfast up there or kick back at any time of the day in the Garden or Writer’s Den. In the evening, the 14th floor becomes the Bookmarks Lounge, a full bar, serving such signature cocktails as the Great Gatsby and the Capote. It is open to the public from 4 p.m. to12 a.m., Monday through Saturday and can also be booked for private affairs.
Other amenities include free wifi, 24-hour business center, complimentary passes to NY Sports Club, and a DVD library of the American Film Institute’s top 100 films of the 20th Century.
For dining, the hotel has recently opened the Madison & Vine Restaurant on the first floor, serving lunch and dinner. We were running so much that we didn’t get to eat here, but if the constant flow of patrons at all hours of the day and night is any indication of quality, we will be back.
Literary lovers can walk out the front door of the hotel for a tour unlike anywhere else in Manhattan. Strolling on Library Way, you have to keep your eyes peeled to the ground. No, it’s not just to avoid dog poop. Instead, you will find beautiful brass plaques with interesting and edifying passages from different authors and their books. Follow these straight to the Main Library and afterwards, sit and rest at Bryant Park.
The only predicament you might have at the Library Hotel is that when your “due date” comes around, you won’t want to “check out!” With the lovely décor, comfy beds, complimentary amenities and oodles of your favorite reading material, you could hole up there for weeks. We’re sure that after one visit to the Library Hotel, you’ll want to “renew” for the next time.
299 Madison Avenue @ 41st (Library Way )
New York, NY 10017
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European B & B Feel with Five-Star Luxury Hotel Amenities
Classic and timeless, the two adjectives that best describe Hotel Elysee, don’t really do it justice. Built in the 1920s and having all the accoutrements of that era in its look and feel, this hotel boasts much more. With only 100 rooms, the Hotel Elysee combines the charm and intimacy of a B & B with the comfort and service of a five-star luxury hotel.
The Hotel Elysee welcomes all their guests with an exceptional complimentary amenity package that includes
- A generous Continental breakfast including artisan bakery products, gorgeous fresh fruit bowl, cereals, boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh juices, coffee, tea, espresso, and cappuccino.
- Daily issues of The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Herald Tribune, USA Today and the New York Post.
- Cookies, fresh fruit, coffees and teas available throughout the day, served daily in the Club Room on the second floor.
- Evening reception, including Prosecco, fine wines, cheeses, and hors d’oeuvres each weekday from 5 to 8 p.m.
- Free wifi throughout the hotel.
- Daily passes to the New York Sports Club.
When you enter Hotel Elysee, a compact lobby leads you to the registration desk, with a hand painted mural of Paris in the background. To the right are a small elevator and stairway. If you head up the stairs, there’s another mural directly in front of you of a beautiful classical garden, with lemon trees on each side. By repeating the same floor tile pattern from the stairs, it appears as if you’re about to enter the garden yourself! It all feels so European you’ll forget you’re in New York. The hotel is full of these whimsical and classic touches.
Our room with queen-sized bed was beautiful with antique reproduction furniture, crystal chandelier, and full window drapes. The drapes covered the huge windows and door to the terrace, complete with flowering pots, table and chairs. We had a view of 54th Street with the windows of other buildings facing ours. A friendly neighbor waved to us while we were having coffee on the patio.
The second floor contains the Club Room and Library. The Club Room is the place for breakfast and the evening wine and cheese reception. Filled with cushy love seats, tables and chairs, it’s an opportunity to meet some of the other guests or to dine on your own in a comforting quiet zone. We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfasts and afternoon receptions, where the wine flows fast and the conversation is easy, even with the variety of accents of guests from around the world who have also discovered the Hotel Elysee.
The second floor Library has a good collection of books and a computer for guests’ use. The hotel also has American Film Institute’s top 100 films of the 20th Century on DVD for guests to watch in their rooms.
On the way down the stairs from the Club Room, you’ll see some more hand-painted murals, including one of the Monkey Bar, the legendary restaurant in the Hotel. Serving customers since the 1930s, the Monkey Bar is well known for its eclectic patronage as well as its menu.
We love the way it feels each time we return to the hotel. The Elysee takes its role as a shelter from the chaotic world outside its doors very seriously. Stay here and you’ll understand our unabashed fondness for this hotel. There are many excellent hotels in NYC, but few treat you to the amenities and service the HK Hotel Properties provides. You don’t have to take our word for it; check out TripAdvisor.com. You’ll find Hotel Elysee and their other 3 hotels at the top of the TripAdvisor.com Top 20 list.
60 East 54th Street between Madison and Park Avenues
New York, NY 10022
Hotel Giraffe, Library Hotel and Hotel Elysee are part of the HK Hotels Group that owns and operates 4 NY midtown hotels. Each distinctively-themed venue offers essentially the same HK Signature Style of Hospitality and Value in a different, but always excellent style. Their business model includes a generous compliment of amenities that guests obviously love. We did, and so do the members of TripAdvisor.com, having selected the Library Hotel as winner of Best Luxury Hotel United States in its 2009 Travelers Choice awards. All four of their hotels are on the TripAdvisor.com Top 20 list. Quite a coup for a small boutique hotel chain.
For more information go to www.hkhotels.com.