Many visitors to New York City stay in Times Square simply because they’ve heard of it and don’t know any other location to ask for a hotel. The Upper West Side of Manhattan is a terrific alternative. Whereas Times Square is noisy, expensive, crowded and hectic, other areas of Manhattan are quieter, prettier and relaxing by comparison. As a New Yorker, I only go to Times Square when I am going to the theatre or for occasional shopping trip. The big pluses to the Upper West Side are: it’s close to Central Park and many major museums, there are many choices for reasonable priced food and it’s much less crowded. The transportation is great and you can be in Times Square in fifteen minutes. You can walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center or The American Museum of Natural History. Here are some of my recommendations of places to stay and eat in the neighborhood, where I actually live. The Upper West Side is defined as the area from West 59th Street to West 96th Street, bordered by Central Park West and Riverside Drive. I have included the subway lines to the following hotels, but buses also run along Broadway (take the M104) or Central Park West (the M10). You must have exact fare or it’s better to buy a Metrocard which can be used on both buses and subways. You buy these at machines in subway stations with either cash or a credit card.
Hayden Hall Hotel (117 West 79th Street, telephone (212) 787-4900, website: www.haydenhall.com ) This intimate hotel isn’t fancy but it’s popular when tourists, especially Europeans. It’s just steps away from the Natural History Museum and Central Park. It’s clean, there are private baths and it’s a really wonderful option in the budget price range (rooms are under $150 a night). Subways: take the number 1 train to 79th Street or the C train to West 81st Street. Both of these subway lines go directly to Times Square.
Hotel Beacon (2130 Broadway, telephone 787-1100, website: www.beaconhotel.com ) The rooms are extra-large (good for families and sharing), there are laundry facilities, some have kitchenettes and they also have suites. The price is between $150 and $250 per night). There are a couple of good, low cost diners close by on Broadway for cheaper meals and huge portions, check out The Manhattan Diner. Take the number 1 subway to 72nd or 79th Street.
Lucerne (201West 79th Street, telephone 875-1000, website: www.newyorkhotel.com ) This is the absolute favorite hotel in the neighborhood. The rooms are pretty, the rates are a good value and there’s a wonderful restaurant downstairs, Nice Matin. You are also close to the famous food store Zabar’s and Filene’s Basement, for bargain shopping. Both are on Broadway a block from the hotel. The price range is $150 to $250 per night. Take the number 1 train to 79th Street).
Milburn (242 West 76th Street, telephone (212) 721-5476, website: www.milburnhotel.com ) This hotel is all suites and the rooms are very large, with kitchenettes. It’s a good value and great for families and sharing. The prices are from $150 to $250 a night). Take the number 1 subway to 79th Street.
On The Avenue (2178 Broadway, telephone: (212) 787-9521, website: www.ontheave-nyc.com ) this is a very modern, stylish hotel with lovely rooms. There’s also a great deck with views of the neighborhood. The prices range from $250 to 350 a night. Take the number 1 train to either 72nd or 79th Street.
For Breakfast try Sarabeth’s Kitchen or Good Enough to East (both on Amsterdam Avenue which is a block east of Broadway). Sarabeth’s is at 76th Street and Good Enough to Eat is at 84th. People line up at these places on weekends, but weekdays are pretty quiet.
For Lunch there are many cafes along Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. You can pretty well choose from any cuisine you like. Some good choices are Nonna (at 58th and Columbus) and Artie’s Deli (on Broadway at 83rd Street).
If you visit the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle (and you should) check out the Whole Foods Store in the basement. You can have a quick lunch for their huge variety of prepared foods (sushi, pizza, sandwiches, salads and more).
For the best deal, go to Broadway and 72nd Street. Gray’s Papaya will give you two absolutely delicious hot dogs and a drink (try the papaya) for $3.50.
For Dinner: (the choices are many but here are few really good places)
Ouest (2315 Broadway) is an elegant, clubby restaurant with new American comfort food at high prices ($60 to 80 dollars per person).
Some of the other places to try are Water Moon (Columbus at 82nd), Ruby Foo’s (Broadway and 77th Street), Dovetail (77th and Columbus) and Eight-One (on 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus). Prices are medium to expensive at all of these.
You really can’t go wrong with the restaurants on Amsterdam Avenue and some tend to be cheaper. Menus for NYC restaurants are always in the windows or posted out front, so you can see the prices before you go in. Look for daily specials, too.