Take a Bite out of the Big Apple

Work is taking me to NYC quite frequently now and I have never seen such a fluctuation in hotel prices. This city certainly takes advantage of high occupancy but there are ways of booking smart in the Big Apple.

My first trip was at the Sheraton Times Square. I have talked about this before and stand by my words that the big chains like Starwood, Hyatt and Hilton do not fare well in the big Apple. They are massive hotels with lobbies that look more like Penn Station than a hotel. They have old, small rooms and certainly need renovations. So why did I return, you may ask? Well it was well priced and its a decent location. My room was $289 a night. That’s ok, but in other US cities you would get much more for your money. This is about an average price for this hotel. It could go down $20 dollars or so but it can also raise up quite a lot higher.

It is close to the good part of 5th Ave but remember now President Trump resides there, police blockades and press often holds up traffic and pedestrians.

A week later, something must have been up in the city, maybe a fashion week or something as hotels were really pricey. A Courtyard was going for $499, JW Marriott Essex house was $899 and the Sheraton was over $400 too.

So, I really was not in the mood to spend double on a very mediocre hotel like the Sheraton. So, I thought of trying something new. The Stewart Hotel is a 4 star and located in midtown.

It looked good on the website. The reservation agent I had on the phone was clueless. He quoted the same room 4 different prices and could not gather my information. I gave him my email address and waited for the confirmation. Of course, I knew he took it down wrong. I called back 30 minutes later and strangely got HIM again. He said he could not find my reservation as the email did not match. I explained that’s why I was calling back as he took it down wrong. He could not assist. This was quite frustrating and more like a sketch from a sitcom than a good customer service interaction. I called the hotel directly and they assured me it was all ok.

The hotel was similar to my reservation agent experience. I was told I was upgraded. I would have hated to see what I was getting before. It was on top of the elevators, the bathroom had a horrible smell, the décor was in desperate need of fixing up, the TV did not work and it was really quite distasteful all together. The location was good but to be honest I could not wait to leave. This was about $329 for the night.

3rd time a charm. I found my happy place in NYC.

Before this I was a fan of the Waldorf Towers but sadly this hotel is closed now.

What I did find was the Intercontinental Times Square. This came in at $349 a night and it was worth every penny. It was clean, modern, not crowded and had lovely larger, well appointed rooms that felt very clean. It boasted a fabulous bed with great pillows and décor. It was what the larger chains were missing. I only really know the Intercontinental in Hong Kong and it is one of my favorite. Staff were charming and felt more like a boutique hotel. Hands down it is the best property I have stayed at in NY at this price point.

Of course, if you want to be extravagant in NY you have the Plaza Hotel that can run from $750-$1100 a night or there’s the Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula. If you are looking for the right price, for the right fit then consider my third visit at the Intercontinental Times Square.

I also had the most amazing seafood experience at a restaurant that’s been open about 7 months on 60th Street called Avra Madison. It is packed, modern and buzzy. It is Greek food but all with a focus on fresh flow- in seafood. They bring the fish to the table to choose. I had a killer tuna tartar and Greek salad plus my all-time favorite, grilled octopus. Milos was always the best in town but I feel there is a new kid on the block now.

Daniel - Living GreenDaniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.

To contact Daniel or learn more visit www.themodelcook.com or follow on Twitter and Facebook.