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June 25, 2008

Two Cool New York City Digs

FUNK & BUNK: Outdoor garden and Bunk Pod at New York City's Pod Hotel

Although I've lived in Colorado for years, I'm an East Side girl, born and bred. Two of my children were born on Manhattan's East Side, too, and we always love to go back and visit the New York City Motherland.

New York City is a great town for a family vacation... except that hotels are exorbitant or not child-friendly, and the few affordable options are often in sketchy neighborhoods. But on a recent trip I discovered two fab family-friendly hotels—and now I'm a fan of both.

Affinia 50, located in Midtown Manhattan (East 50th Street), is part of a small group of six niche hotels. It's not the cheapest bed in town, but guests get a complimentary breakfast each day, plus a Monday to Thursday "Evening Cheer" spread of complimentary wine, cheese, and crackers that's perfect for frazzled parents. Free munchies aside, what's really nice about this place is that guests here talk and socialize, and you can ask for cool things for your room, like special pillows or an acoustic guitar (small charge for the guitar). Affinia offers several family-focused deals, including its Jet Set Kids Family Package (includes a free backpack with a kid's NYC guidebook, kid's digital camera, and scrapbook) and the seasonal Sweet Summers deal, featuring a picnic basket with an ice-cream cooler filled with, well, ice cream. You can also borrow a Walking Tour Kit from the hotel, which comes with a pedometer, iPod Shuffle, City Walk cards, a map, and other stuff to use while you're roaming the Big Apple by foot.

Also in Midtown East (and only a block from Affinia 50), families should also consider the hip, euro-centric Pod Hotel, which is mostly aimed at young European travelers on a budget. Its minimalist aesthetic aside, these compact rooms are cleverly designed with ample storage, a desk, and beds in a small footprint. It's not for everyone, but if you like a cosmopolitan ambience (we were the only guests whose native language was English), fantastic location, friendly service, and inexpensive room choices, check it out. Some rooms have a shared hall bath—nice baths (and, yes, families were using them)—and some have bunk beds.

Weekend prices for both these hotels are usually marginally lower. Both are just around the corner from Ess-a Bagel's authentic NYC bagels—you can taste the difference. They're also a stroll to the subway and short walk to attractions including Rockefeller Center and American Girl Place.

New York isn't just limited to the five boroughs—stretch beyond Manhattan with's interactive seasonal guide to the Empire State.

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Places to Stay


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