Our SUV Parks In New York City - My Family Travels

FTF's contributing editors make a road trip to New York City and live it up in midtown at the family-friendly Parker Meridien Hotel.

While many luxury hotels in New York pay lip service to smaller guests, Le Parker Meridien graciously caters to both seasoned business guests and their kids. Despite its French pedigree, the Meridien Company allows its outposts tremendous latitude. With its numerous whimsical touches, this particular hotel asks guests not to take themselves too seriously while they’re enjoying serious pampering and fun.

Known for its prime location on West 57th Street just south of Central Park, Le Parker’s first quirky signal is the TV monitor in each elevator playing “Popeye” and “Charlie Chaplin” shorts (finally, someplace to rest your eyes during a long elevator ride). The hotel’s large pool on the top floor stays open until 10:45pm on weekends and has water toys, adult swim lanes and a stunning view of Central Park and the city (take the kids outside for even better views). With a sitter from the New York Babysitting Guild watching the kids, mom and dad can enjoy the massive, well-equipped Gravity Fitness center in the basement.

Its elegant, modern rooms are outfitted with a bit of New York attitude, such as the stationary embossed with fuggetaboutit. If you’re not booking last minute, take advantage of the hotel’s newyorksmartaleck, a complimentary, customized web-based service for hotel guests who often ask, “I’m in the city for three days with two kids – and what do I do?”

We all flipped over the menu choices at Norma’s, one of the ultimate New York spots for breakfast. From the Waz-Za — a waffle stuffed and stacked with fruit and topped with crunchy brulee — to the foie gras brioche French toast, this is a breakfast dreamed up by Dr. Seuss and Wolfgang Puck. And who wouldn’t like the complimentary smoothie sample? To top it all off, our 9-year-old son Jamie actually ordered Krispy Kreme Donuts (although not the NYPD special: Kool-Whipped raspberry and chocolate stuffed Krispy Kremes).

If you’re in the mood to spend a few more bucks, the Trattoria Dell’Arte is just around the corner opposite Carnegie Hall (900 7th Avenue, just look for the massive nose hanging out front). Its easygoing staff offered half-portions to our kids, and the dinnertime noise level made us feel perfectly comfortable while we looked (unsuccessfully) for celebrities.

Before dinner we had walked a few blocks to check out the timeless Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue under all its scaffolding (the hotel is being renovated into luxury condominiums that should open by mid-2008), then across Grand Army Plaza to FAO Schwarz to reread little Eloise’s adventures. (Walk quickly past the glass cube entrance of the Apple Store if you’re watching your budget.) After dinner, we took a big stroll with weary wired kids down to Times Square to take in the lights, noise and breakdancers before crashing in luxury at our hotel.

Details, Details

The hotel’s NYSmartAleck is a super hip concierge who will share an insider’s view of the latest “in” restaurants for families traveling with teens. They also have all the information about current family attractions at their fingertips.

Le Parker Meridien is not cheap, but it offers double room specials in the low season that can be a tremendous value for an upscale hotel. With its friendly staff, fanciful touches and convenient location, it stands with other urban getaways that actually know how to cater both to kids and to their often-harried parents.

For rates, information and reservations at the Parker Meridien (212/245-5000), 110 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, visit their website or the new hotel group they are associated with: www.starwood.com.

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