New York City is arguably one of the most romantic cities any time of year. These are my top New York hotel picks for a weekend built for two:
1) Literary Lovers
Library Hotel — The hotel is next to the iconic Main branch of the New York Public Library. Each room is dedicated to one of the major Dewey Decimal System categories, there is a reading room, a poetry garden with terrace, and a Writer's Den with fireplace and an enclosed garden terrace. Sleeping in the main library itself is the only way you can get more literary in NYC.
Algonquin — If the 20th Century American literary scene wasn't actually born in this New York hotel, it surely served as midwife. Bring a good book, or better yet literary magazine, have a drink at the famous Algonquin Round Table and listen closely for the ghosts of the famous, including New York Times drama critic, Alexander Wollcott; Harold Ross of the New Yorker; Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber.
2) Culture Vultures
Budget: Hotel Wales — Sitting on Madison Avenue, one block from Museum Mile, this New York hotel exudes the romance of being a house guest in Grace Kelly's apartment. If smoking were still cool, you'd do it here. This New York hotel is less expensive than its more famous brethren The Carlyle and Stanhope and a much better value.The rooms are typical NYC — small but very stylish — and it's literally one block from Museum Mile's best: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt and more.
The Muse New York — Thespians can have both the chaos of Times Square and the serenity of a quiet gallery by staying at The Muse. Only one avenue from the lights, and footlights, of Broadway and Times Square, the hotel itself is an oasis of noise-canceling soft surfaces, muted calm colors, and attentive service. Perfect for a romantic night in after a long day out.
3) Celeb Spotting & Shopping
The Peninsula — This is the surest place to spot celebrities cuddling. Normally astronomically priced, the recession has taken a bite out of this elegant New York hotel's usual four-figure rates. With packages below $400 (almost unheard of!), you'll have plenty left over to splurge at the nearby 5th Avenue boutiques, the Jewlery District, or upscale department stores (Henri Bendel and Bergdorf). Or just window shop and return in time to see the rich and famous getting into the ever-present limos outside the hotel.
4) Affordable Affection
W The Court — Even locals are completely unfamiliar with this hotel hidden on a side street in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood. With a teeny lobby, only a few rooms per floor, and relatively spacious rooms overlooking the trees and narrow street below (ask for one facing the street), you'll easily fool yourself into believing you own a townhouse in one of the city's toniest neighborhoods.
Le Parker Meridien — Stay at one of this New York hotel's north facing rooms and you'll be at a romantic winner on two fronts: food and view. This is the city's best deal by far. For about $250 a night, you'll have a dramatic views of Central Park, a pool with 360-degree views of the river, Central Park and the city skyline, and two of the city's most beloved restaurants. A Norma's breakfast is the only meal you'll need to eat that day. Valhrona chocolate french toast, Lemon Ricotta pancakes, Eggs Benedict made with asparagus, bacon and pancakes. As if that were not enough, peel back the secret curtain in the lobby and you'll find the Burger Joint, a hidden favorite for burgers and milk shakes with lines of midtown diners at lunch.
Mandarin Oriental — Even if the hotel wasn't a zillion-star property with a gym to kill for and a view that makes you feel like Gordon Gekko before his self-esteem crisis, this would be the elite foodies' preferred property. An elevator ride to Thomas Keller's Per Se, Bouchon and Whole Foods, and a block away from Jean Georges, staying here means never having to call room service.
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Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn't been found.