Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
On the border between the Lower East Side and the East Village, within walking distance of the neighborhoods' vibrant nightlife
On East Houston Street, the northern border of the Lower East Side and the East Village -- definitely not SoHo. Its drab-looking building is positioned amid bustling street and foot traffic and a few storefronts; little else. While noisy and not immediately adjacent to dining or entertainment, the GEM is just three blocks west of the famous Katz's Delicatessen (New York's go-to place for a big pastrami on rye), four blocks from two popular music venues, and minutes from the galleries, boutiques, and nightlife that distinguish "the LES."
Across Houston, to the north, the East Village has been, and still is, a neighborhood that attracts artists, writers, and musicians (or, more recently, NYU students). Tompkins Square Park, at the neighborhood's center, is a gathering place for green-market shoppers, street performers, and people just hanging out. Surrounding the park are restaurants, vintage shops, bars, trendy nightclubs, and "alternative" businesses offering everything from vegan food to drug paraphernalia.
Modern and comfortable, but very cramped (like so many East Village apartments)
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls) and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
It's not in SoHo -- those swank lounges and fashion boutiques are about a 20- to 30-minute walk away. Rather, these 45 cramped but still comfortable guest rooms are on the border between the East Village and the Lower East Side, which have their own, albeit less swank, lounges and boutiques. It's OK, for the price, but consider Thompson LES.