New York’s apartment-like hotels that are a great alternative to Airbnb
Last year was a busy year for Airbnb’s lawyers. In September, they filed a lawsuit against Santa Monica, arguing that a new law making unsupervised short-term rentals illegal violated the United States Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments.
In July, they sued Anaheim, challenging a law that fines short-term rental sites. And in June, they sued the company’s hometown of San Francisco over a law that penalises websites for posting properties by owners who don’t have a city permit.
And that’s just in California. The company has hit similar opposition outside the US. Iceland has a new law that means apartments rented out for more than 90 days need a special licence, Berliners can’t rent out their entire flat (only a room), and Amsterdam has banned apartment rentals for more than 60 days a year.
Arguably the biggest blow came in October, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law making it illegal to rent out apartments for fewer than 30 days. If you’re someone who likes the convenience of having a kitchen and the savings that come from self-catering, your options in the Big Apple just dwindled.
Or did they? It turns out that several New York hotels already offer apartment-like facilities and many more are jumping on the bandwagon. Here are some worth checking out.
AKA has five luxury long-term residences in Manhattan. Its flagship property is AKA Central Park, nestled behind The Plaza Hotel and just one block from the park.
The property’s entrance on 58th Street is surprisingly discreet – perhaps because of the many celebrities and high-profile businesspeople who like to stay here without fanfare. Adjacent to the small, stylish lobby is a.lounge, an intimate area that serves free coffee in the mornings and complimentary early-evening drinks and snacks three nights a week.
There’s also a private,11-seater screening room that can be used to stream movies from the hotel’s Netflix account and an affordable cafe next door that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The majority of the property’s 132 rooms are studios, which come with a small kitchenette that includes a sink, microwave and bar fridge. There are also one and two-bedroom apartments, which have full kitchens and a dining table. If you really want to splash out, you can opt for the one of the property’s two Sky Suites, which during the summer months can be setup with a bed under the stars on an outdoor terrace complete with champagne and a S’mores roasting kit.
Whatever option you choose, you’ll have free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour concierge, a 24-hour fitness centre and complimentary guest laundry.
Most of the property’s rooms have been renovated and now feature a soothing grey palette with modern fittings and luxurious linens. The decor in the unrenovated rooms is starting to look a little dated, even though the rooms themselves are still clean and presentable.
AKA’s newest property is AKA Wall Street, a 140-room residence in the heart of the Financial District that opened in May. Add that to its existing portfolio of properties in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and London and it’s clear the company is bullish about the outlook for luxury, long-term rentals.
AKA Central Park. 42 West 58th St. Rooms from around $US230. Four-night minimum stay. See stayaka.com
MARMARA PARK AVENUE
There’s nothing discreet about the entrance to Marmara Park Avenue. After walking through a striking 670-piece steel vestibule, guests emerge into a spacious reception area with sleek, custom-designed furniture and an impressive four-metre high fireplace.
It’s the sort of lobby you’d expect to see in an Ian Schrager-designed hotel, not somewhere that welcomes long-stay guests and their pets.
You’ll find modern, fully-equipped kitchens in all of the property’s suites, which range from 32-square-metre studios to two and three-bedroom apartments. The 128-room property opened last January, so everything is still sparkly and scuff-free.
There are some nice touches in the rooms, such as soft drinks and water in the fridge, CO Bigelow toiletries in the bathroom and an iPad with internet access, maps and a virtual concierge.
The decor is refreshingly daring, with striking black-and-gold print wallpaper, dark wood floors and some colourful modern artwork. Many rooms have access to an outdoor terrace (a rarity in New York) and the only real complaint is a lack of storage space in the slightly cramped bathroom.
Residents get exclusive access to an indoor heated pool, steam room and well-equipped fitness centre in the basement. Upstairs there’s a lobby lounge that serves a simple continental breakfast each morning before morphing into an atmospheric night spot with hors d’oeuvres and a good range of cocktails.
Should you manage to wriggle out of the property’s welcoming embrace, you’re a short stroll from Grand Central Station, Madison Square Park and the world-class shopping around Herald Square. For trips further afield, the 6 train subway is at the end of the street.
Marmara Park Avenue. 114 East 32nd St. Rooms from around $US300. See park.marmaranyc.com
Q&A RESIDENTIAL HOTEL
Visitors often shy away from staying in the Financial District, which is an oversight because during the past few years the area has been revitalised. Once a ghost town after dark, it now has a lively restaurant and bar scene and several new shopping precincts, such as the Westfield World Trade Center and Brookfield Place.
It also has the island’s best subway connections and provides convenient access to tourist hot spots such as the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and Governors Island.
Hoping to take advantage of the area’s surge in popularity, Furnished Quarters – already an established provider of temporary furnished housing in New York – opened its first residential hotel in the Financial District in November, 2015.
Offering stays of up to 29 days, Q&A claims its apartment-style residences are more than three times larger than the average Manhattan hotel room. Configurations range from 46-square-metre studios, to one bedrooms with separate offices, and enormous 130-square-metre two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites.
All contain a well-equipped kitchen with a full-size fridge, microwave, oven and dishwasher, plus the latest gadgetry in the form of a 122-centimetre smart TV and a Bose sound system.
The decor is on the safe side, but the rooms are stylish, spacious and scrupulously clean thanks to daily housekeeping.
There are plenty of perks too: free morning tea and coffee; free, unlimited Wi-Fi, free local calls and complimentary access to a well-equipped health and fitness centre.
As if that wasn’t tempting enough, there’s even an artisanal Aussie coffee shop called Black Fox Coffee in the very same building.
Q&A Residential Hotel. 70 Pine St. Rooms from around $US200. See qandahotel.com
Hotel Beacon is a perennial favourite for Aussie travellers, not just because of its spacious rooms and well-equipped kitchenettes, but also because of its enviable Upper West Side locale next to the Beacon Theatre. See beaconhotel.com.
If you’d prefer to stay with a big name chain, there are several options. Marriott’s long-stay brand, Residence Inn, has four properties in Manhattan, all of which offer kitchenettes and free breakfasts. Starwood’s long-stay contender, Element, offers similar benefits and has a hotel eight blocks south of Times Square. And finally, Hyatt unveiled its first extended-stay property, the Hyatt House New York/Chelsea, in April. See residenceinn.marriott.com; elementtimessquare.com; newyorkchelsea.house.hyatt.com
Rob McFarland was a guest of Air New Zealand, Brand USA, AKA Central Park and Marmara Park Avenue
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