In New York City, Manhattan used to be the only choice for the finest hotels. No longer. New upscale hotels have sprouted in Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey, most of which offer two key advantages over their Manhattan cousins: sweeping skyline views and cheaper rates. Plus, with NYC’s extensive transport system, many of the borough’s sights—and Manhattan itself—are within easy reach. Here are our top picks.
Wythe Hotel, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
At this handsome hotel built in a renovated factory on the Williamsburg waterfront, Brooklyn’s not just outside your window—it’s represented in your room, too. The Wythe Hotel incorporates local materials and art throughout, whether it’s in the loft-style rooms or at the seasonal restaurant, Reynard. The roomy beds are made from salvaged wood, the custom-made wallpaper comes from Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper and the booze in the mini bar? Small-batch, of course. But, the place to drink is on the rooftop, at The Ides bar, where you can toast the skyline of Manhattan with a cocktail of the same name. 80 Wythe Ave., 718-460-8000, doubles from $195, wythehotel.com.
The neighborhood: The hotel has become such a fixture in Williamsburg that it’s now hard to imagine one without the other. This is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood where you can eat, drink and play without ever venturing into the city. Dine at locavore restaurants, sample frothy brews at Brooklyn Brewery, shop at artisan boutiques, stroll the shores of the East River and test your bowling skills at Brooklyn Bowl. Plus, Manhattan is just a subway stop away on the L train.
Getting there: The L train to Bedford Ave. or the G train to Nassau Ave.
Z Hotel NYC, Long Island City, Queens
When it comes to views, this is the king of Queens. At this stylish hotel, each of the 100 rooms feature views of the Manhattan skyline, punctuated by the signature Chrysler and Empire State buildings. The experience is enhanced by the hotel rooms themselves, which were designed to showcase the view, with floor-to-ceiling windows and 10-foot ceilings. For the ultimate view, though, check out the hotel’s breezy rooftop at night, which looks out onto the 59th Street Bridge (also called the Queensboro Bridge)–it drapes like a sparkling necklace across the river. 11-01 43rd Ave., Queens, 212-319-7000, doubles from $175, zhotelny.com
The neighborhood: This industrial Queens neighborhood continues to evolve into fertile ground for new galleries and artists’ studios. Long Island City’s artistic flavor is largely credited to MoMA PS1, one of the oldest nonprofit contemporary art museums in the U.S., which is a 12-minute walk from the hotel. Also in LIC is the Noguchi Museum, with a sun-warmed outdoor garden populated by abstract, lyrical sculptures. Nearby the Noguchi is Socrates Sculpture Park, which sprawls on a reclaimed riverside landfill.
Getting there: Long Island City is the part of Queens that’s closest to Manhattan. Regular trains serve the area from Manhattan and other boroughs, including the E, F, G, M, N, Q and 7. The hotel also offers an hourly free shuttle to and from Manhattan.
W Hoboken Hotel, Hoboken, New Jersey
It’s a New York truism: For the best views of Manhattan, you need to leave the island. Nowhere is this better proved than at the W Hoboken Hotel, which rises over the Hudson River and Hoboken riverfront, commanding picture-perfect views of the Manhattan skyline. The hotel has all the W hallmarks—trendy bar, chic rooms with pops of color like purple and pink, swank Bliss Spa and the Whatever/Wherever concierge service. In short, it has the same high quality offerings as the W Manhattan hotels, but often at a cheaper price point. 225 River St., N.J., 201-253-2400, doubles from $289, whoboken.com
The neighborhood: Lively, youthful Hoboken is the neighborhood of choice if you’re going to stay in New Jersey. The hotel is just a few blocks from one of Hoboken’s main drags, Washington Street, which is dotted with bars and restaurants. Another plus is the nearby riverfront park, where you can soak in the sun–and the views.
Getting there: The PATH train is a few blocks away from the hotel and offers regular service to Manhattan, with stops in the West Village, Chelsea, Midtown at Penn Station and in the Financial District.
Nu Hotel, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
For many, the high point of travel is when you start blending in and feeling like a local. At the Nu Hotel, that’s easy to do. The big appeal at this boutique hotel is the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods of Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill. There you’ll find elegant brownstones on tree-shaded streets alongside trendy cocktail bars, restaurants and boutiques. The hotel is enthusiastically eco-friendly, with organic bedding, cork flooring and complimentary bikes. The Nu Hotel also has plenty of whimsical touches, such as chalkboards in the bathrooms and hammocks in the suites. 85 Smith St., Brooklyn, 719-825-8585, doubles from $249, nuhotelbrooklyn.com
The neighborhood: It’s hard to get more central in Brooklyn. Adjoining neighborhoods include Downtown, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, and many of Brooklyn’s sights are within easy reach, including the Brooklyn Transit Museum, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge Park and more.
Getting there: This is a well-connected neighborhood—numerous subway lines serve the area, including A, C, D, F, G, N, R, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Ravel Hotel, Long Island City, Queens
At street level, Long Island City still has a gritty, urban feel. It’s a different story at the penthouse level. The chief draw at this comfortable hotel is its rooftop lounge, Penthouse 808, where you can sip cocktails under the stars, with wide views of Manhattan framed by the 59th Street Bridge. Rooms are spacious and well-designed, and some have balconies—ask when you book. The hotel is expanding into an adjoining lot and plans to have those rooms available in spring of 2014. You can walk four blocks to the F at 21st Street/Queensbridge, or 10 blocks to Queensboro Plaza. The hotel also offers free shuttles to nearby subway stations and to Vernon Boulevard and Queensboro Plaza; as well, bikes are available for rent at $10 a day. 8-08 Queens Plaza South, Queens, 718-289-6101, doubles from $155, ravelhotel.com
The neighborhood: There’s not much immediately around the hotel, but venture a bit further and you’ll discover Long Island City’s artistic roots, including the contemporary art museum MoMA PS1. Also nearby is Silvercup Studios, NYC’s largest TV and film production facilities, where everything from 30 Rock to Mad Men has been filmed.
Getting there: Regular trains serve Long Island City, including the F, N, Q and 7.
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