The search for a place to stay in New York for our December week was not so straightforward. We discovered prices climbed skywards as soon as the holiday season started – there seemed no exceptions to this rule. Resigned to paying through the nose we stumbled upon the Shelburne Murray Hill Hotel – not exactly cheap but for our money we got a one bed apartment in an apart-hotel – the idea of a bit more space than normal meant we snapped it up.
The location was great – Lexington Avenue by 37th Street – not in the midst of all the tourist sights but in a charming and mainly residential area. What a treat to stroll around (at the crack of dawn) on our first morning and gaze at the gorgeous New York brownstones. It was only a short walk to the Empire State Building and a shorter stroll to Grand Central Station – all pretty much perfect in my eyes.
Our one bedroom apartment was far more spacious than we expected and far more spacious than anywhere we’d found in New York in the past. Having our own doorbell and front door made me weirdly excited – I felt I was on the set of Friends. We were on the 15th floor – not great views but then we didn’t come here to spend time inside looking out. There was a cosy living room with sofa bed, dining table and chairs and the biggest television Son had ever seen. The bedroom was also big with a super size and super comfy bed – great sleeps were had by all. An old-fashioned but perfectly fine bathroom, stocked daily with a plethora of fluffy white towels and a small kitchen complete with dishwasher, coffee machine and fridge freezer completed the offering. It was a little old-fashioned and a bit dated but I loved it nonetheless. I understand the whole place has undergone a complete modernisation since our stay – it looks very swish but I liked it just as it was. Probably the prices have been updated and modernised too!
We had breakfast twice at the hotel restaurant – buffet style and fine but once we discovered how close Grand Central and the food market was, we became great customers of that establishment for the rest of the week. Dining like kings the food there was wonderful and so reasonably priced. The hotel restaurant was buzzing every night, but we never dined there either preferring instead to walk the short distance to 3rd Avenue. Here we found a stack of small, local restaurants serving every kind of food under the sun. Spoiled for choice we picked a different place each evening – an Italian called Patsy’s was probably our favourite.
The hotel had a roof terrace – we went exploring one night and excitement levels reached fever pitch when we stepped onto the roof and found the most amazing view of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The night views with skyscrapers all lit up was spectacular. The day time view was none too shabby either.
Thanks to the hotel’s proximity to Grand Central Station – we ended up falling in love with this place too. Always left off our New York lists in the past, this trip we had time to visit on several occasions and realised what a gem it really is. Apparently when the 1869 plans for this terminal were drawn up they said, “People who come to New York should enter a palace at the end of this ride and not a shed.” Attractive on the outside thanks to beautiful sculptures and a Tiffany clock no less, inside it is magical. More ballroom like than railway terminus there are chandeliers and marble – stunning. If you go outside of rush hour you can really take in the details without crowds of commuters buzzing past. The zodiac on the ceiling is very cool and one day we stumbled across the Holiday Laser Light Show. This was spectacular – a light show displayed on the ceiling and walls and accompanied by festive music, we returned several times for a repeat performance.
I was also a big fan of the Holiday Fair at Grand Central – no end of beautiful, unusual and unique items for sale. Much browsing on my side and then on our last day much purchasing – we picked up a stunning New York bauble, some handmade toys and a few other “necessities.” This is definitely the place to find quality gifts from artists and artisans – highly recommended but bring plenty of cash!
A great hotel, a great location and a lasting love affair with Grand Central – this would be my choice of place to stay if (or when) we return to New York.