Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New York City - Our stay at the iPod of hotels

In the summer after my second year at university, I found a job working in the dining hall at a boys sports camp in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. I had been to week-long camps as a kid, but these boys were away for the whole two months of summer vacation. Their parents shelled out more money than my university tuition to be childless for the summer to give their kids a chance to learn about camaraderie and sportsmanship.

It was a great summer and it was an interesting experience to live in the States for awhile. The highlight for me was the proximity to New York City. On our weekends off, we'd rent a car and visit the Big Apple, which was just three hours away. My Newfie compatriots were just crazy enough to drive into Manhattan and I was happy to slide in as a passenger.

A year later, my Dad was asked to speak at the UN and I practically begged my parents to let my little brother Brian and me tag along. They agreed, and the four of us went for a couple of days. It was amazing to see Dad give his speech and to tour the UN building. While Dad worked, Brian took Mom and me to CBGB's (even six years younger, he was the cooler one) and mom and I dragged his reluctant self into Nine West. We checked out the Met and had fruity drinks at Tavern on the Green. Both CBGB's and Tavern on the Green are now closed.

Since my first trip, it's been one of my favourite cities. I love the food, the eclectic neighbourhoods and the endless opportunities a city of its size presents. So when we were invited to a friend's wedding in Slate Hill, NY we made a proper trip out of it, arriving in the city on a Tuesday before heading to Slate Hill last Saturday.

It was a whirlwind tour and we tried to strike a balance between the typical touristy experiences and more authentic experiences since it was Josh's first visit. We visited MOMA, walked around Central Park, saw The Book of Mormon and checked out the High Line. We ate some great food (that's a whole other blog post). We also wandered around Rockefeller Center in hopes of getting standby seats to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - we were out of luck in that department, but it was still fun to roam the halls of 30 Rock.

Our hotel - the Yotel in Hell's Kitchen - was great. The design was clean and modern and the outdoor patio was fantastic. Here's a little tour:
 
Check-in and check-out is super slick (and quick) with all the self-serve terminals they have. They also have staff on hand to help you if needed. The other guests skewed young, but as you can see from the photo below, there are grey-haired people who also want a cool spot to hang their hat. ;)

 
The fourth-floor lounge had tons of comfy futuristic-looking booths. Outside the windows is their 20,000-square-foot outdoor terrace, which we made good use of. It's billed as the largest outdoor terrace in Manhattan.
 
 
Their Japanese restaurant has sunken tables and colourful illustrations on the walls. With all the great restaurants in the city, we didn't end up eating here but the food we saw looked and smelled delicious.
 


 
I may be wrong, but I assumed this was a yak greeting us as we got off the elevator. It looks yak-ish.
 

 
The Yobot will store your luggage if you arrive too early to check in or want to explore the city sans bags after check out.


 
As expected, the rooms were small, but the bed turns into a couch with a flick of a button, giving you more floor space. I loved the wall-mounted reading lamps - a great way to maximize space.
 


You can hook your iPhone/Pod/Pad up to the TV to hear your music through the speakers. The shelving here was great for charging phones, and storing books and key cards.
 

The curtain behind Josh divides the bedroom from the bathroom. Translation: not a whole lot of privacy in the bathroom.
 
 
Although there were these sliding glass doors between the sink and the toilet/shower combo, it doesn't make for a great...erm...sound barrier.
 

The picture quality here is pretty dire, but it gives you an idea of the Yotel's premium suites that come with an outdoor tub and deck space. Nice - but don't forget that your neighbours above can see you!

 

We had a great view of Hell's Kitchen. They had both a blackout shade and a translucent shade which was a nice touch - during the day you want the light but need privacy, and at night the blackout shade kept out the city lights.

 
 The heated towel rack was a bonus, adding a bit of unexpected luxury.

 
 
Overall, we were happy with the Yotel. The prices were quite reasonable - especially compared with other hotels in the area. It was clean, the drinks at the bar were tasty and there was free coffee and muffins for breakfast every morning.
 
If you're looking for more information on affordable, yet hip, NYC hotels, the NY Times has a great article called Your Room as Cocoon: Teeny, Cheap and Chic.
 
Posts on the delicious NYC food and shopping to follow.
 
 



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