When it comes to NYC hotels, chances are you're familiar with the Ritz-Carltons, the Mandarin Orientals, the iconic old-schoolers like The Pierre and The Plaza -- but what about the properties whose names don't immediately come to mind when you think of accommodations in the Big Apple?
The hidden gems, the places your neighbors might recommend, the best-kept secrets; these under-the-radar spots -- with their killer service, unexpected amenities, and tucked-away locations -- might be the right choice for you.
Here are our picks for the five best New York City hotels you've never heard of.
The Lucerne Perched on the mostly-residential Upper West Side, this quiet 250-room hotel is most suitable for tourists looking to get a taste of the local experience. Warm European decor and traditional, attentive service give this place an edge on the big-box chain hotels closer to Times Square -- an area accessible from the Lucerne via the 1 subway line, only a block away. That is, if you're still looking for things to do after hitting up attractions closer to the hotel, like the Museum of Natural History and Central Park.
Library Hotel So long as your memories of libraries are more positive than the dream-haunting terror of college all-nighters, the Library Hotel is pretty cool. The 60-room boutique is decked out in a library theme, with floors and rooms thematically organized according to the Dewey Decimal system, bookshelves in the lobby, and something your college and public libraries never had: three hours of free wine and cheese every weeknight. Can't find something to read at the hotel? The New York Public Library is a block away.
Hotel Beacon Also located on the Upper West Side, this place might be described as more of a "classic pre-war apartment building" than a hotel. Affordable rates, impressively large rooms with kitchenettes, and a quiet location make this a good option for families.
The Franklin NYC A 50-room boutique on the quiet Upper East Side, we were struck by the way the hotel "embraces the romance of prewar Gotham" and the small touches that distinguish it from other hotels in its price range: Bulgari toiletries, free breakfast in the mornings, free wine and cheese in the evenings, and free espressos and cappuccinos 24 hours a day.
Holiday Inn Manhattan - 6th Avenue Fine, so maybe you have heard of Holiday Inn -- but chances are this particular property isn't what you're expecting. This may just be one of the best deals in the city: opened in mid-2008 decked out with the national chain's swanky new upgrades as part of HI's brand-wide makeover, the hotel boasts flat-screen TVs in the rooms, free Wi-Fi, a free, on-site fitness center, and comfortable beds. We think the perks -- and the price -- more than make up for the small rooms and the tiny lobby.
Other honorable mentions: the brand new Ace Hotel New York, with a hip, your-cool-friend's-apartment feel (some rooms even have bunk beds) hidden in Murray Hill. Its highly-anticipated restaurant, The Breslin, just opened (and Alain Ducasse declared their french fries the best in the city). We also like the underrated London NYC, boasting two on-site restaurants from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, a central location near Central Park and Times Square, and a great fitness center.