Affordable and New York City are typically considered to be an oxymoron. So when a getaway girl comes across a pleasantly priced diamond in the rough, it's practically her responsibility to share the find with other savvy travelers. Enter the Blakely Hotel, a Midtown gem I'm happy to have discovered.
Combining the refined, formal feel of a Waldorf-esque establishment with boutique-style intimacy, the Blakely appears to offer the best of both worlds. From the moment I walked through its double doors, the staff was unwavering in their helpful and hospitable manner. (The concierge even gifted me with a much-needed map of Manhattan that I used the entire trip!) There's none of the snootiness that you might expect from an exclusive men's club, despite the British-inspired decor evoking that feel. (FYI: the Blakely is so named as a nod to one of the most popular English surnames in the 17th and 18th centuries.) From the oak and cherry wood furnishings to the stacks of old hardcover books to hunt club-style paintings, you'll definitely feel like you're in old England in the midst of midtown!
I stayed in one of their tastefully appointed junior suites, which can run $375 to 425 depending on the time of year. Complete with a living room and full-on kitchenette (seriously—there was a microwave, mini-fridge, ample cupboard space stocked with dishes, a sink, and coffeemaker), the room made good use of its 425 square feet. I also enjoyed writing the day away on the cozy chaise lounge and snuggling in the king-sized bed with lush, crisp Egyptian linens. Next time I return with the girls, I might spring for the 17th floor penthouse suite, which boasts a private outdoor terrace and sprawling city views.
I also found time to visit Abbocatto, the Michelin- and Zagat-rated Italian restaurant attached to the lobby. A popular pre-theatre destination for locals and visitors alike, some of its most popular offerings include the Wild Mushroom Flatbread, Grilled Octopus, Pappardelle, and Amatriciana Spaghetti dishes. Also worth checking out is the rotating wine list, curated by a Northern Italian native ("It's a good wine list for Italian foodies," one employee told me); my fave was the Fiore Di Campo.
Of note value-wise are all the extras that Blakely guests receive free of charge. Complimentary New York Times papers are distro'ed every morn, and continental breakfast is served daily in Abbocatto. (You can also order room service from the restaurant if you're feeling extra plush.) The second floor fitness center is available for active types day and night, and wi-fi is free throughout your stay. It's easy to see why Travel + Leisure gave the Blakely its "World's Best Value" award for the under $400 set in 2006.
But by far, my favorite thing about the Blakely was its killer location. Located right between Central Park South, Lincoln Center, and Times Square, many of New York's must-sees are within easy walking distance. During my three-day stay, I was able to check out the MOMA (Warhols and Lichtensteins and Picassos, oh my!), rent a bike in Central Park, attend a concert at Radio City (NKOTB—don't judge), and enjoy a rockin' meal at Quality Meats. All within a stone's throw!
It's funny: normally I gravitate toward hip, modern hotels like the W and its ilk. And it's not like BD Hotels (which operates the Blakely) doesn't offer their share; after all, also under the same umbrella are the Mercer, Maritime, and Greenwich Hotels. But what the Blakely has that its chic-er sisters may lack is an understated elegance and quiet comfort. And that's worth its weight in British pounds.
Savvy Tip for Girl Getawayers: Be sure to put up your "Do Not Disturb" sign at night. I was woken up at 8 am one morning by the eager housekeeping staff! (For this night owl writer, that's practically the crack of dawn....)
For more 411: The Blakely New York, 136 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019; (212) 245-1800