Fall and winter are magical in New York City, the season when visitors from around the world flock to the Big Apple to dress up for the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, admire balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or watch the amazing array of holiday windows and seasonal decorations come to life. Although hotel rates are at their highest, we’ve found a few good seasonal specials at various price points that make a New York City family vacation affordable.
High End New York at a Max Budget
The Plaza is now mostly condominiums, but guests are welcome on the hotel floors managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. This timeless, flag-laden mansion on Central Park South has a coterie of glitzy shops, a spa, and the very luxe, cleverly underground Plaza Food Hall. The fully restored Plaza is a National Historic Landmark whose legendary literary resident, the character Eloise, is a big part of that designation for families. To honor her spirit, The Plaza is hosting “Eloise’s Birthday Party Tea” on November 4, 2013 at 4pm. It will take place in The Palm Court, near her legendary portrait as the first mischievous imp to reign in the hotel; Macaulay Caulkin was the second. This afternoon event features a book signing with Hilary Knight, the original illustrator of the famed children’s book series, by Kay Thompson. Eloise books will be available for purchase in the Eloise at The Plaza giftshop, and the $100 fee includes tea for one adult and one child, an Eloise Shop gift card and an Eloise favor bag. Reservations are a must and can be made by calling Eloise at The Plaza at 212/546-5460. Room rates during this week vary by size and date; please call 888/240-7775 or visit The Plaza New York.
The striking 463-room Conrad New York located in Battery Park City, formerly a spacious and kid-friendly Embassy Suites, is an even better family choice with its super cool neon-lit and comfy lobby, waterview restaurant and large suites with sofabeds in the living area. The hotel is the first LEED Gold New Construction major renovation project certified under the latest environmental regulations and is within a short walk of the Statue of Liberty ferry at Battery Park. Within its footprint are Danny Meyer’s foodie haunt North End Grill and his fast-foodie haunt Shake Shack. The brand-wide Conrad Concierge, available in 13 languages, lets guests make room requests before even checking in, with an electronic personalization tool that the kids will enjoy using. Fall and winter are the best time to visit for families interested in new shows, big museum exhibits and shopping. To accommodate them, the Conrad’s Our Family Fun package includes a luxurious suite with a sleeper sofa, continental breakfast for two adults and two kids daily, 4 NY Water Taxi “Hop On/Hop Off” bus and boat tour passes, 4 National 9/11 Memorial Visitor Passes (free of charge, but they reserve a timed entry), 4 Conrad New York BPA-free water bottles to take home, one discount voucher to use at J&R Electronics or J&R Jr. Toy Store, complimentary WiFi access and daily self-parking. Room rates begin at $289/night and vary by season with $426 being the lowest we found this fall, and weekends being the best value in general. Learn more at Conrad New Yorkor by calling 212/945-0100.
Also in lower Manhattan, we have the lovely and pricey The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park where families with younger children will enjoy the campy (pun intended) Indoor Campout Package. Guests between the ages of 3 – 8 have a choice of sleeping in a tent for two equipped with camping essentials — sleeping bags, the “L is for Liberty” children’s book, and an indoor lantern, which the hotel says “brings the sounds of the great outdoors inside,” perhaps not a happy thought for parents trying to get their kids to sleep. Young guests also have a toy campfire that glows with moving “flames,” and an all-chocolate camping-themed treat created by the hotel’s award-winning French Pastry Chef Laurent Richard. In addition to the Indoor Campout Package, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park offers an array of other classy, kid-friendly amenities include the complimentary Teddy Bear Turndown service with welcome gifts; bubble baths drawn by the hotel’s bath butler; the brand-wide POLO ("Protect Our Little Ones") kits, which include electric plug covers, kiddie band aids, a bath tub spout cover, a rubber ducky, children's shampoo and children's lotion; and prizes for any child who is successful in tracking down Battery Park’s famous resident turkey, Zelda. Kids’ campsite is in the suite’s living room; parents camp in the very civilized master king-bedded guest room. The Indoor Campout starts from $570 per night. For more information or reservations, please call (800) 241-3333 or (212) 344-0800, visit the luxury hotel’s web site at Ritz Carlton, or consult a travel professional.
New York on a Student’s Salary
On the opposite side of the budget spectrum, Hostelworld.com, voted the most trusted hostel booking site in 2012 by Lonely Planet readers, is running a ‘Surprises and Delights’ campaign for its guests in New York City hostels. Using the hashtag #HostelworldTreats, both city visitors and locals who fan this brand will be surprised with treats such as free accommodation, tickets to attractions, exclusive travel packs, free hospitality evenings and more. In our social city, you’ll have to follow @hostelworld using the hashtag #HostelworldTreats to get involved. See HostelWorld to learn more about the 82 properties they represent in the city and current rates.
A more comfortable budget option, perhaps, in a good location at 4 West 31st Street, is the little known Wolcott Hotel. Dating to 1904 with a past of illustrious guests including Henry Miller, Edith Wharton and Buddy Holly (!), the Wolcott is advertising winter rates as low rates starting at $225 per night. Rates include a continental breakfast and the hotel provides concierge services, a fitness room, laundry facility, and an on-site gift shop. Let us know what you think; to book, visit Wolcott Hotelor call 212/268-2900.
Another hotel running a special for Veteran’s Day (valid until December 29, 2013) is The New Yorker Hotel on 34th Street and 8th Avenue. The hotel’s Armed Forces Special gives active and retired U.S. military personnel presenting their ID 20% off nightly room rates, with packages starting at $199 per night. Other perks include complimentary WiFi plus two breakfast vouchers to dine at the renowned 24-hour Tick Tock Diner located in the hotel’s lobby. If your stay spans Veteran’s Day weekend (Nov 8–11) there’s an extra welcome amenity. Keep in mind that this property was home to inventor Nikola Testa for 10 years, has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and was named "Favorite Family Friendly NYC Hotel by About.com. For more information or to make a reservation, visit New Yorker Hotel packages or call 866/800-3088.
Art for Art's Sake in New York's Best Museum Show of the Season
No matter where you stay, make sure you leave a day in your itinerary to wallow in the magnificent exhibit “The Armory Show at 100” open till February 23, 2014 at the New-York Historical Society.
Celebrating the centenary of the legendary 1913 Armory Show that introduced drawings, paintings and sculptures in the style of European modernism, the show reunites 100 of the original works that, when shown in historical context, make it clear why Duchamp, Matisse, Brancusi, Picasso and others shocked the public sensibility. The museum is open daily except Monday; children 5-13 pay $6 and can participate in the “Art of History” programs for K-12. Don't miss it!
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