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Luxury for less: NYC

July 2010

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It's the world capital of extravagance. But for the savvy traveller, it is possible to enjoy five-star New York at two-star prices. You just need to know where to look. In the first of a new series on affordable luxury, Mark Jones takes Manhattan
The penthouse balcony of the Thompson LES hotel looking towards mid-town Manhattan
Andrew Rowat

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To paraphrase Jerome K Jerome — I love physical exercise: I could sit and watch it for hours

You've no right to get jet lag in New York. All you do is land, get a cab, check in, take a shower, walk onto the streets and the moment your soles hit the sidewalk you're in recharge mode.

So it was on a blindingly hot afternoon at about two in the morning, I emerged onto Columbus Circle ready for adventure. The body clock was told to go off and fret somewhere else. There was a rush of traffic, suits, sirens, sneakers, tourists, shops, cops, joggers, cabs, attitude, adrenaline — the energy seeps up and pretty soon you've got all bars showing full. Mind, I did make a silly mistake and walked into the Time Warner building mall. Malls are not good if you need to get acclimatised. You enter some weird dream state where everyone is nice to you but you haven't got the foggiest idea where you are and why you're there, other than a trancelike impulse to Buy Something. In a treacly daze I tried on some trousers in J Crew, bought a couple of books in Borders, got sushi in Whole Foods Market then, at 3.30am, I had the sense to escape to the park.

Central Park is the most intensely organised area of human exertion in the world. Joggers go in this lane, walkers in that, bikes in another. No one-way system is more rigorously policed. One cyclist went the opposite way and people shouted at him as if he'd stolen a wallet. Hey! Whaddyathinkyerdoin? Get back here!

To paraphrase Jerome K Jerome — I love physical exercise: I could sit and watch it for hours. As dawn broke, I felt refreshed, awake and ready for dinner.

You can manage your alertness levels here where Upper East meets Upper West. It's the plastic you have to watch. Within hours, your credit card could be a wreck, begging to be allowed to sit in the hotel safe. But it's your first day - night, whatever — in Manhattan. You want big buildings and glam, not European-style neighbourhoods. You have to stay somewhere nice. But it costs.

6 Columbus was my answer. Here among the grand international brand names is a slick and lively boutique hotel. You can get a nicely furnished, relaxing box room for as little as $200. My room was a step or two up. Like many hotels in the genre, they might economise on overall space, but don't when it comes to the bed. In either quantity or quality. So you get a beautifully firm kingsize with Egyptian cotton sheets. This is important; sleep is important.

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Posted by Mark Jones

Tags

USA, New-York, luxury, budget, hotels-and-spas, food-and-drink
Where to stay
6 Columbus                                $200
thompsonhotels.com
Thompson LES                          $207
thompsonhotels.com
Crosby Street                            $383  
crosbystreethotel.com
* prices per room, per night
                           
Where to eat
5 Napkin Burger (dinner)       $70.00
fivenapkinburger.com
Balthazar (breakfast)                $31.85
balthazarny.com
The Public, Roxbury (dinner)    $63.72
publiclounge.net
Emerson Resort (lunch)           $29.16
emersonplace.com
Peekamoose (dinner)               $130.45
peekamooserestaurant.com
* prices for two

 

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