Everyone has a reason to visit New York City: the restaurants, the museums, the Yankees, shopping on Fifth Avenue, hanging out in Greenwich Village, strolling through Central Park.
Whatever your reason, getting there, staying there and going from one place to another — without breaking the bank — is always an uphill battle when visiting the Big Apple.
I was fortunate enough to discover a hidden gem: the Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Avenue. Although you may think “What’s so great about Holiday Inn?” take note: As part of a $1 billion global rebranding, Holiday Inn picked the Big Apple for one of its first properties to undergo a top-to-bottom makeover. The result is a downtown Chelsea hotel that features a completely new look and feel.
The 24-story, 226-room property boasts amenities that you might not expect — upgraded bedding and bathroom amenities, a sophisticated full-service restaurant and bar and perks such as an on-site fitness center, flat-screen TVs and rooms on the upper floors with perfect views of two classic New York City icons: the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
When you arrive, don’t look for a big neon “Holiday Inn” sign. Instead, expect a much more subtle, cleaner sign with the hotel name and a big “H” as the newly branded logo. The front-desk area is nothing short of elegant. Staff is dressed in monochromatic, NYC-hip black uniforms — and the service is polished (and available in several languages).
When we arrived at our room, it was nothing short of perfect. I happened to be fortunate enough to be on the 18th floor, offering an impressive view. My standard room had a very comfortable king-size bed, a large flat-screen TV, a desk and chair (as well as Wi-Fi) and bath with a marble sink and marble-tiled shower. Like the front lobby, the color palette is filled with soft earth tones. The bedding — high-end duvet, high thread-count sheets and really nice pillows — was also a perk.
Amazingly, the noise level was almost unnoticeable. Sure, you’re in NYC, so expect noise, but I don’t remember anything waking me up.
There were two other really nice things worth mentioning about this hotel. First, there is a really nice bar and restaurant adjacent to the front lobby. Although it is run independently from the hotel, Prime Cafe serves breakfast and dinner in a beautifully lit area that is covered by skylights — and it’s a great way to start or end the day.
The hotel also has a complimentary, on-site fitness center on its lower level — and the small gym is open 24 hours. For a bigger gym, the hotel offers guests passes ($25) to a fitness studio next door.
Last but not least are the room rates. I suggest going to its Web site and plugging in dates to get an idea. I did some random searching and found (on the low end) rooms starting at $262 per night on Christmas Eve (what a deal!), but more realistically, I found rooms around $499 per night.
If you go
Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Avenue
Where: 125 W. 26th St. (between Sixth and Seventh avenues)
Contact: </span>(212) 430-8500 or www.hi-nyc.com
What: The newly constructed 24-story hotel, located five blocks from Penn Station, features 226 standard guest rooms — 123 singles and 92 doubles. The average size is 200 square feet. First priority for rooms with views — rooms on the 20th floor and higher either have a view of downtown or the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building — are given to Priority Rewards Club members and locally negotiated corporate-rate guests.
An unlimited MTA MetroCard
Starting at $7.50
Sure, you can take cabs anywhere in Manhattan, but why not try the subway and bus, which quickly and efficiently can zip you from one end of the Big Apple to another. Although you can opt for a pay-per-ride MetroCard (the fare for a subway or local bus ride is $2; the fare for an express bus ride is $5), an Unlimited Ride MetroCard is good for unlimited subway and local bus rides from first use until 3 a.m. A one-day fun pass is $7.50; a seven-day unlimited-ride MetroCard is $25. For more information, visit www.mta.info/metrocard.
A ticket for the Rockettes
$250 for a premium seat to a peak performance
The Radio City “Christmas Spectacular,” starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, is as iconic as any tall building in New York City. Featuring the Rockettes and their signature high kicks, the show includes legendary performances of “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “New York at Christmas.” The best seats in the house — at the peak of the holiday season — go for $250 per ticket. For more information, visit christmas.radiocity.com/calendar.html.