Posted: Dec 06 2017
Since moving from Manhattan to Beijing, the day after Christmas in 2009, I’ve been lucky enough to return to the city that never sleeps on dozens of occasions for a variety of reasons—for adult fun, for family fun, for business, sometimes on a budget and sometimes on a splurge. During each of these visits, I’ve tried to book a different hotel—perhaps to explore a new nook or to experience something new in a city that I love so very much.
In the past 8 years, I’ve kept a running list—now almost 40 hotels long that I would love to share with all of you. I’m breaking it down into a few useful categories so that you can “shop” the specific type of hotel you need for your next visit to New York.
Please note—the following categories are based on my personal experiences staying in a specific room type at each of the hotels listed. In no way do I mean to imply that I have experienced ALL that they have to offer. That said—I do hope that my musings will help guide you to make the best decision for your next stay in the city, with or without your little ones in tow.
*With 40+ spots, this post is quite long, but we wanted to give you as many options as possible!
S P L U R G E A N D T H E C I T Y:
When you decide you deserve to take your hotel to the next level.
When an iconic New York experience is on the agenda, a stay in a classic corner suite at The Carlyle, overlooking the park, is sure to fit the bill. Nestled perfectly among the most drool worthy shops of Madison Ave, you’re in prime window shopping territory.
Plus, you can’t beat Bemelmans Bar for romantic cocktails. Complete with a live piano player and the only public display of artwork from author and artist Ludwig Bemelmans—the dark, cozy and nostalgic atmosphere is intoxicating (even without spirits). Perhaps I am bias (as I did meet my husband in this very special spot), but you can’t get more New York than this Upper East Side gem.
Special notes: The corner suite with Central Park view has a separate, full size living room and a complete kitchen. So while technically, the entire family can fit, I still feel it’s meant for you and your love. You should also note that the fridge is stocked with bubbly, but if you are looking for something less pricey than Dom or Cristal, you should BYOB! J Oh—and this is seriously one of the last hotels in the city with actual elevator operators. It’s SO cute!
A seamless mix of classic and modern style, with one of the best hotel bathrooms in the city (SERIOUSLY), you will love your time at The Mark. Quality robes and delicious room service are the icing on the cake. Plus, they offer the cutest rickshaw rides in town! Take a romantic ride through the park or hop a ride for a nightcap.
S P L U R G E A N D T H E C I T Y:
Though not always true, I find that the older hotels in the city often offer much larger rooms than the newer ones. That is certainly the case of the Plaza. Plus, in our experience, the bathrooms come equipped with proper bathtubs and spacious layouts (something you can’t always count on in boutique hotels.)
In addition to larger rooms and a very attentive hotel staff, you also have the convenience of the Todd English food court in the basement of the property (there’s literally something for everyone in the family to eat and enjoy). Plus, Eloise lives down there and the store is any little girl’s dream come true!
As downtown Manhattan continues to evolve, I believe it becomes more kid-friendly all the time. Less crowded than the madness of midtown, it also offers the obvious—breathtaking views of Lady Liberty. The Ritz specifically offers rooms with telescopes and oversized windows to check her out from the comfort of your own bed.
If you can swing it, book the club level. They offer all day snacks and drinks (of the adult variety as well). Several nights during our stay, we were able to avoid room service “snacks” for Olive, which as you know adds up quickly!
Other practical reasons to “splurge” here—the rooms are large, they offer 2 queen beds (most NYC are double beds only when they actually do offer multiple beds), the bathrooms are large (with separate tubs) and they provide kid-friendly (aka organic) bath products and amenities as well.
B U D G E T, N O T T O O B A S I C
Décor is cute throughout, but rooms are tiny. Lack of space certainly keeps the price down, but if you’re not an efficient packer, then this is not the spot for you. You’ll be super annoyed trying to skirt around a big, clunky suitcase in this pint size space.
Back in the day (circa early 2000’s) The Hudson had it’s moment. With a packed bar and a super cool “library” type space, it was a hot spot for sure. It feels a bit tired now in comparison, but if you’re looking to save some $$ without staying at a big, boring hotel chain and you don’t need much space, the Hudson can be a practical option. Rooms and bathrooms are tiny—think back to your freshman dorm, but the location is just a couple blocks from Central Park, which is a nice perk and it still offers a cool outdoor space to grab a drink or coffee in between city activities.
B U D G E T, N O T T O O B A S I C
There is nothing particularly “cool” about the San Carlos. I don’t write that to be harsh, it’s just the truth. That said—it was pretty cool to have space to walk around without tripping over things in a room with 2 beds—not an easy feet in NYC sometimes. If you are not looking for romance or interior décor inspiration, the San Carlos can provide a nice, clean and affordable hub for your visit to the big apple, smack in the middle of town and close to some kid-friendly activities as well. (Specifically speaking, The American Girl Store is only 3.5 blocks away…)
If you are traveling with another family, your own extended family or bringing along someone to help with your children, the Court offers the convenience of adjoining rooms. We’ve actually booked the same set of rooms twice as they offer a 1-bedroom suite attached to a regular sized 1-bedroom room. It allows you to set up a “common area” TV/play room for the kids with separate sleeping areas and 2 bathrooms. The décor is minimal and basic, but with kiddos, it’s often all about the SPACE!
You would need to call the hotel directly to get this “set-up”. A third party booking service is mostly likely not going to guarantee this.
Directly across from Lincoln Center and convenient to Upper West Side Museums, I think the Empire is good for tiny babies (when you can stroll to your heart’s content) or older kids who enjoy ballet or other performing arts. Our room did not have a tub, but Olive was an infant so I packed the inflatable duck tub by Munchkin, which worked great. I think it would have been tough to stay here with an older toddler for that reason.
Our room was average size for NYC, and we enjoyed having 2 kid-friendly restaurants at arms length—PJ Clarkes and Rosa Mexicano.
J U S T T H E T W O O F U S
A Romantic Getaway.
Kick the romance up a notch and book the “claw foot tub” room. It’s located immediately next to the window (tinted window I might add) so that you can take a soak and take in the sights of the city at the same time. The décor is a bit dark and rich, and the onsite restaurant is delicious for a sultry dinner.
If you’re looking for a sleek and seductive spot to cozy up with your baby daddy then look no further than the NY Edition. From its common spaces to its bars to its room décor, the vibe is spot-on.
Our room was quite spacious and the bathroom was beautiful with double sinks and a huge space to get ready for dates. Additionally, the TV’s are set up for Netflix. Perhaps that sounds depressing...why watch TV in the city that never sleeps? But if you’re reading this, you’re likely a mom (or a parent) and late nights are probably few and far between. Getting to watch TV that doesn’t involve PJ Masks is a luxury. Am I right?
This place is a home run. From the breathtaking views of Manhattan to the roof top bar with perfect cocktails and rooms with décor so green you will want to flip your lifestyle upside down—1 Hotel is getting it right. For starters, the windows in the rooms that face the city, overlooking the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, create an amazing indoor/outdoor experience. I strongly recommend ordering breakfast in bed—every mama deserves to sip on some coffee with a stunning view and the city breeze running through her hair.
I am sure it would be totally fine to stay on site with kiddos, but perhaps not clumsy toddlers. The windows might cause some stress and once again—our room didn’t have a tub. Nice shower, but not ideal for littles who need to soak!
Although I have attended quite a few NYFW shows and events at The Highline Hotel, I’d never stayed there until Brett and I got stranded in the city after a canceled flight. We were sans kiddos and obviously needed to book something very last minute. They had a room so we snagged it. Just as I expected, based on the beauty of the building, the room was chic, elegant and cozy. It was not overly spacious (just one of the reasons I don’t think it’s ideal for travel with kids) but its nostalgic vibe is intoxicating.
In the warmer months, it offers an open air bar and restaurant in its front courtyard and in the winter, you can cozy up to pint size bar just behind reception.
Fun fact: ‘Twas Night Before Christmas was penned here!
Like many Ian Schrager properties, the delicious smells of perfumed candles burning throughout the lobby of the GPH draws you in immediately. Drenched in bold colors, rich velvet textures and an art collection to die for, a stay here will inspire you.
Our room was a very nice size with a separate seating area and a walk-in closet. I don’t always unpack completely on vacation, but I wasn’t about to miss my “Container Store” moment, so I pulled out every single garment, shoe, and accessory to create the picture perfect closet—complete with 6 inches between each hanger and a single pair of shoes per shelf. It was divine—even if only for 72 hours!
Even though each room welcomes you with famous teddy bear, Bo—I still feel strongly that the Bowery is not geared for the kiddos. The lobby is dark—pretty much a bar in its entirety and the rooms just feel “adult”. We’ve never stayed here with our kids, and although we have eaten at Gemma (the restaurant attached to the hotel) with them, I always feel like I cramping its style.
If you are able to upgrade or snag a corner room with wrap around windows, go fit it!
W H E N D U T Y C A L L S
If you are hitting the city for meetings downtown and you’re not looking to drop a bunch of $$$, then this might be the place for you. I stayed here on a solo trip after taking a redeye, and they were able to get me into my room at 8AM so I could freshen up for the day. Obviously this scored big brownie points for me, but the surprises didn’t stop there. The building is quite taller than many of its surrounding properties, so it offers great natural light in the rooms. In my experience, most hotels at this price point give you the feeling of being in a cave with views of brick walls. This was unexpected and very pleasant. Beyond that, the décor is what you might expect of a hotel chain like Wyndam—clean, simple and somewhat vanilla, but I really enjoyed my stay there and it was fun to be smack dab in the middle of Chinatown—surrounded by interesting markets, food stands and people.
Also, there is SO much happening in this part of the city, so you are sure to stumble upon a hot new restaurant or bar to try during your trip!
I also think you could totally stay here with kids, especially if you're planning downtown activities or want to explore SOHO with them.
A fairly typical Thompson property, the Smyth is a solid boutique hotel option. Great lobby and bar for meeting up with friends or colleagues and the rooms are stylish, clean and fresh. I would stay here again for sure, but in the spirit of full disclosure; it would be based on price. This style of hotel seems pretty common in NYC these days, so if you can find a similar one for a lower price, you might as well save the money.
W H E N D U T Y C A L L S
If you’re traveling solo and literally need a place to throw your bags, wash your body and rest your eyes amidst running around the city with a busy schedule, the Hotel 32 32 is a good option. Rooms are small but clean and your location is fairly central to anything and everything. My bathroom was particularly small and my view was rubbish (I literally booked the cheapest room they offer) but I knew I wouldn’t be using my room for anything but sleeping, so it worked.
W H E N D U T Y C A L L S
If your work budget allows, the Loews is a nice property to work from and in. The rooms are spacious (spacious enough to even bring the family along if you’d like and they have many rooms with 2 beds). The lobby is bright and airy and the restaurant and bar on site is a great meeting spot.
W O R T H T H E U P G R A D E
An all suite property, the incredibly spacious rooms (especially for NYC) offer separate seating and sleeping areas divided by French doors. The bathroom is lovely, of good size and offers dual shower-heads in the oversized shower. If you’re bringing baby along, you will have plenty of space to roll in a crib or pop-up your travel tot bed. Not to mention, you can close off the French doors so baby can sleep while you catch a movie.
Although I can’t speak to a standard room at this property, I will say that I found upgrading to a City View Alcove Suite with an in-room fireplace was a treat! The room itself was large and the bathroom served up a large soaking tub. Smack in the middle of overcrowded midtown, the location lacks luster, but the amenities of the Alcove Suite make up for the stress of fighting the crowds.
With this room type, you can bring a little one (just have a cot or crib rolled in).
Brett and I have actually stayed at this property twice—once in a typical room and once in a suite. The suite was HUGE. In fact, though don’t quote me on this, it would seem that this was previously an apartment or extended stay property. I write this because the suite felt more condo than hotel room. It had a full bath and a powder room, a kitchen area, a separate sitting room and a large bedroom. We were sans kids, but I would totally stay there with little ones for the space alone!
We stayed at the Evelyn during NYFW for an entire week. For this reason, we upgraded to the suite. It provided a separate sitting area with 2nd TV and full size sofa. What it did not provide was 2 beds (only a king) and the bathroom was still on the small side. While the room was super cute (seriously), the elevators were very slow (we took the stairs often)—I’m not sure I would recommend this property with kids. We had Olive with us, but we would have been better off in a less cute hotel with more practical amenities. The extra square footage of the suite was nice, but it wasn’t all that kid-friendly (aka no extra fridge and we all had to spoon in one bed!) They also were not offering room service at the time, but that may have changed by now. It was newly opened when we stayed there back in 2016.
Y O U C A N A C T U A L L Y B R I N G T H E K I D S
— For Real
I literally tell every parent who asks me where to stay in NYC with kids to check this place first! For starters, pretty much every room type has some type of kitchen (either full or partial). If you’re staying for 3+ days and your kids are anything like ours, you will save hundreds on food alone just being able to stock your own snacks! The rooms are big too, more like mini apartments and our room has always had a bath tub.
The location is also great for parents and littles—especially around the holidays. You are super close to Central Park, all the great windows of 5th and Madison, and the Santa at the Plaza rarely has a line. He’s a good one too! Plus, you can pop to the Todd English food hall after to get some delicious food and a glass of bubbly!
Similar location to the Ritz in Battery Park, The Conrad offers a less crowded, often slower pace than say a Midtown property, but there is still a lot going on down there and it’s a nice part of the city to stroll in without feeling like you are hogging the entire side walk.
I booked it for our family holiday trip to see Santa in early December because we are also visiting with family in Brooklyn. Additionally, it was easy to secure a spacious room (almost 500 square feet) with 2 beds, a separate seating area, a coffee/wet bar and an oversize bathroom.
C O O L S P O T — B U T P A C K L I G H T!
While this hotel has a cool vibe, don’t expect to fit more than one person and luggage in the room and have space to walk around. In fact, if I recall correctly, the bed is pretty much sandwiched in between two walls with just enough room for side tables to hold a bottle of water.
I really love this spot. The lobby is absolutely darling and the décor is homey and lovely. That said—the affordable room type is often a tiny little nugget of a space. The bed consumes most of the floor space so a carry-on bag is the way to go when staying here.
The bar and café in the lobby are perfect spots to grab coffee with a friend, a pre-dinner drink or even a night cap if you’re not out too late. And if you’re a mom, odds are that you won’t be out that late!
While the rooms are pretty tight, they are also pretty smartly laid out. The bathrooms allow two people to get ready at the same time (as in it’s not a single person mirror) and if you book one step up from a basic room, you’ll also have a banquette seating area with a table.
Outside of your room, but still on property, some of the best spots in town are literally at your fingertips—for dinner, Le Cou Cou can’t be beat (make reservations for sure) and for drinks, The Blonde is a chic spot for cocktails or wine.
I haven’t stayed here in years because I really despise Time Square (it’s way too much stimulation for me to stay there), but it’s often a great price and the rooms are more unique than say at the Hampton Inn. They are also TINY so be prepared.
A S K F O R A V I E W
Perched high and solo on Grand street, the all glass rooms can offer quite a view. Book a high-floor, corner room to get the full effect. I also recommend booking this hotel when the weather is nice (so not February!) as it offers really nice outdoor common spaces that should be taken advantage of for sure!
Though really cool, with a fun location (I mean who doesn’t love the Highline), I found the bathrooms to be incredibly dark. In fact, I would apply my make-up in the main room by the window. But speaking of the windows, ask for one that overlooks the Hudson. It’s lovely.
Other perks of the property are the restaurants and bars on site—specifically the top floor!
We stayed here with one of our tiny humans (pre-Schafer). The room type we were in definitely would not allow for any others as we were already crammed in like sardines, they did provide a crib, which was helpful, but there was not “quiet” corner to park her in so we pretty much had to go to bed when she did. Typically, I wouldn’t complain about an 8PM bedtime, but in NYC the energy is just too much for me! It felt a little like a prison cell. All that to say, maybe stay here sans kiddos! Oh—and ask for a high floor for sure!
I N S T A W O R T H Y S E L F I E S A V A I L A B L E
Situated just around the corner from 11 Howard, I’m kind of obsessed with this particular block of town. The hotel itself offers a really clean back ground – think all white with blue accents if you’re traveling solo and hoping to snap some Instagram worthy selfies. If that’s not important to you, I still think you will love the crisp and clean color palette and the restaurant in the lobby is a great place to meet friends for lunch, dinner or drinks.
I really love everything about this place—from the cozy lobby, to the romantic restaurant (with darling outdoor seating options) to the beautiful and unique décor of the rooms (each one is different). It really feels like you are staying in the guest room of a very chic New Yorker—one who provides you with baskets of snacks at no charge. And what I mean by that is, when we stayed there, the “mini bar” was entirely complimentary!
Just as the room décor is different in each, so are the bathrooms. This creates for some pretty beautiful and wow tile work that you are sure to want to snap in a selfie!
The rooms are small—think 195 square feet for an entry level studio, but what they lack in space they make up for in character and back drop for an Insta pic. Plus, Dirty French (the restaurant) is on site and who wouldn’t want their pic in front of a neon sign with that on it!
If you’re traveling with kids in tow and absolutely dying to stay here (it is pretty fab) then your only option is the penthouse. All the other rooms are queen beds. Do the math. It doesn’t work.
As you might have notice by the size of the list compared to say Hotels.com, I have not even scratched the surface of places to rest in the city that doesn’t. My plan (now as a Cali girl) is to keep trying new spots in the city and reporting back to this list. I didn’t want to get too wordy or too long to start, but I also want to be sure that I am touching on things that perhaps other lists do not.
Happy to answer any specific questions or if you have stayed in one of these properties, perhaps in a different room type (with our without kids) I would love to hear from you and what your experience was like!