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It's hard to believe that broke artists once flocked to Manhattan's Lower East Side for the cheap rent; nowadays even a Holiday Inn will set you back over three hundred bucks for one night.
The last couple of decades of gentrification in the LES is now manifesting itself as a bundle of new hotel construction projects in the area. Hotels definitely in the works include the long-delayed 180 Ludlow, a third Hotel Indigo, Peter Poon Architects' skyscraping Hotel Bowery, and what will be New York City's second CitizenM. Just last week, too, we heard rumour of two new Ace Hotels also coming to the area. So we decided it was time for a round-up of what's on offer in the LES right now.
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A small part of us chuckles that the world's largest Econo Lodge will humbly boast under 300 rooms, but we suppose it's a nice step for the typically small motel chain as far as novelty goes. Perhaps more important than the size of the property is the extra perks that are not normally seen at Econo Lodges such as an on-site delicatessen and free in-room Wi-Fi, coffee makers, refrigerators, and ironing boards. It will also have a partnership with the adjacent YMCA Aquatic Center, allowing guests free access to its three indoor pools, fitness center, and indoor racquetball courts.
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Back in December, Cambria Suites broke ground on its first two Manhattan hotels. A third was also begun in White Plains but frankly that interests us less for two reasons: one, it's in Westchester (yawn). Two, unlike the pair of upcoming Manhattan properties, the White Plains Cambria Suites isn't being designed by serial hotel architect Gene Kaufman.
Choice Hotels, the parent company of Cambria Suites, announced yesterday that Kaufman will take charge of the two new hotels in Chelsea and midtown, both opening in 2014.
Kaufman is keeping quite busy these days, as we happen to know he's also working on The Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn, as well as a Holiday Inn in lower Manhattan, set to be the world's tallest Holiday Inn. In all, Kaufman's design firm, GKA, has completed over two dozen new hotels in Manhattan in the last 10 years. Wonder what he's got up his sleeve this time!
See a rendering of both towers after the jump!
After breaking ground on a new 130-room hotel in White Plains on Friday, the team then headed to Manhattan on Saturday, where they officially broke ground on a 196-room property in Times Square, followed by another 135-room property in Chelsea (rendering shown above).
The gimmick was meant to underscore Cambria Suites' renewed commitment to entering the New York hotel market. Though the brand first launched in Appleton, Wisconsin in 2007, not much headway has been made on conquering larger cities like New York, Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco. Now, Cambria seems to be re-thinking its game plan. On Friday, Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce told the Washington Post:
"When you start a brand — no offense to anybody from Wisconsin — but that's not usually where you want to start."
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The brand Quality Inn doesn't conjure up much excitement when talking design and style, but that might begin to change. The brand doesn't require corporate-wide duplication of a mundane design footprint, and according to our source,"Some flexibility for the owner-franchisee to select décor is allowed." So we were thrilled to find a Quality Inn owner in Pasadena, California who hired season five HGTV Design Star, Julie Khuu to re-imagine their hotel.
Using vibrant colors and strong pattern-on-pattern play, in some ways this mid-scale category accommodation now looks like a luxury hotel that should command more than its average $84 a night rate (which includes breakfast). But there's one little problem:
The design didn't carry all the way to the bedrooms. So, what did Khuu do?
Things at Comfort Inns are starting to get a little more comfortable.
The affordable hotel brand is in the midst of a massive brand makeover changing everything from the reception desks to the employee uniforms but most importantly, Comfort Inn is overhauling the guest amenities.
Last year, Comfort rolled out their new breakfast (called Your Morning Breakfast) with hot items and flavored waffles. By the end of next year, Comfort Inn's Truly Yours bedding program will have upgraded more than 234,000 beds and nearly one million pillows. Guests will even have a choice of a soft or firm pillow.
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How good are you at coming up with excuses? We consider ourselves pros. Whether we're wriggling out of an event we should never have committed to, or lying full-on to ourselves about why it makes more sense to stay out for another round of cocktails instead of heading home at a reasonable hour—we've got the whole "little white lie" thing down pat.
Which is why we get a kick out of a new holiday-themed contest by Cambria Suites/Choice Hotels, which asks people to share their tactics for avoiding house guests. The prize? A $500 hotel gift card. Simply submit whatever "little white lie" you use to stave off unwanted family members, and you could wind up with $500 in hotel cash that could ensure you won't have to host anyone all holiday season long. How's that for choice?
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If you're enjoying the proper tourist experience in New York City, then chances are you're probably only returning to your hotel room to drop off purchases and sleep. For these ends, any clean, safe and reasonably comfortable hotel will do, and that's why many turn to the more affordable brands that pepper the Manhattan landscape but don't enjoy the hype of the 5-stars.
Such a hotel is the Comfort Inn Times Square West, a cute little property from Choice Hotels, What it lacks in unique interiors or luxurious amenities, it makes up for by being a quirky architectural curiosity. We're quite sure that this is the thinnest hotel in Manhattan.
Check out that height! Those sliver windows! It's only two rooms wide!
For comparison, the nearest competitor in the battle for the title of thinnest hotel in Manhattan is The Gotham, although it clearly measures three rooms across. But with the Gotham ringing up at $295 a night and up and the Comfort Inn at $160 and up, we maybe wouldn't mind sleeping stacked so.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending but it doesn't change the fact that a 16-month old girl slipped and fell from the balcony of the Econolodge in Orlando, one of the biggest Econolodges in the world and also the same miserable property that got poor marks during the Undercover Boss episode back in September.
Miraculously, the toddler was saved by a British tourist who noticed the baby hanging from the fourth-floor railing and ran to catch her before she hit the ground. The girl hit a third-floor railing on the way down but didn't even suffer a bruise or scratch and was even described as happy afterward.
Weep your salty, solitary tears on this bed
It’s been a week since Valentine’s Day now. Have those seven days seen you walking on rose petals, fuelled by Cupid’s darts? Or have you comfort eaten a burger on the hour, every hour, to deal with the fallout?
If it’s the former, well done, we’re happy for you, now please jog on. But if you fall into the latter category, worry ye not, because you could reap the rewards of your crap V Day.
You have until the end of the month to relate your crappy Valentine’s story to the people of Cambria Suites, and, if yours is deemed one of the three worst, you get a prize to console you for, you know, the humiliation.
Top prize is airfare for two (your BFF please – they’ve put up with your moans, after all), a three night stay in a premier suite at a Cambria Suites hotel of your choice, $150 dining credit, welcome package worth $100 and – get this - $1000 Visa giftcard.
Second and third prizes aren’t bad, either – second is a two night stay at any property, plus flights, $100 dining credit and welcome package. And third prize is the same, minus the flights.
You may be scrambling to find those last-minute Christmas gifts, but you'll want to make a New Year's resolution to drop those procrastination tendencies to get this deal from GEM Hotels. If you book early and prepay in full, you can get 20 percent off of your room.
You really have to be a planner for this one. The New York chain, which has hotels in Chelsea, Midtown West and Soho, will slash the rates, but you will have to pay it all upfront, it's nonrefundable and no changes are allowed. Though you'll be rewarded with rates as low as $135 a night, which is pretty darn good for a Manhattan hotel.
Note: We are working on trying to bump up the volume on the vid a bit. Stay tuned!
The Cambria Suites Roanoke in Virgina has filmed a very special edition of Pitch Your Hotel just for us. Here is Joy Barlow, director of sales, letting us know why guests should stay Cambria Suites on their next trip.
Here are some highlights--all-suite accommodations (see below), a huge lobby space for socializing, an indoor pool and spa and our fave, free WiFi. As is to be expected, all this goodness means rates are a bit higher than the other Choice Hotels, around $129 a night. But new hotel + suite + free WiFi = A-OK in HotelChatter's books.
Have you stayed at a Cambria Suites lately? Tell us what you thought!