Summertime in the City and the thought of standing in line to go up to the top of the Empire State Building is a bit of a hard sell.
But I’ll happily take a room with a terrific view, especially since the iconic tower only gets better looking as the sun goes down. If you ask very nicely at check-in, odds are good you’ll get one at The Strand NYC hotel in Manhattan’s Fashion District.
Before this visit, I’d never stayed Midtown, and was pleasantly surprised to find The Strand’s location at 37th Street between 5th and 6th, incredibly convenient for access to Grand Central, shopping trips at Macy’s (just 3 blocks), nights at the theatre, and forays into Union Square. Staying Midtown, until now, was unchartered territory, but I’m hooked.
Service at The Strand is friendly, relaxed and warm, and our 10am arrival wasn’t too early to get a room. Free Wi-Fi, newspapers, and iPod docks are becoming more the norm in the Big Apple, but are still a treat.
And access to the business centre came in handy for printing last minute documents. The real feature at The Strand though is the rooftop bar with a distinctly Moroccan feel and unobstructed views of the Empire State Building.
Comfy couches and throw pillows invite lingering under the stars over a long list of cocktails. A retractable roof will shield lounge-lovers from the effects of any passing hurricane.
When you’ve worked up an appetite lifting all those drinks, head downstairs to the American Bistro.
Headed up by Chef Kelvin Fernandez, who appeared on a Food Network program, the menu is seasonal, with a balance of lighter dishes as well as classic favourites like macaroni and cheese. Two rooms offer a choice of traditional or more exotic settings. The first is a library theme, with a fireplace filling the centre of the room. I can imagine it being a perfect place to sit out a winter storm. The adjacent room continues the North African theme of the Rooftop bar.
There were only two other tables, yet the kitchen was slow, despite advising them we had theatre tickets. After sweating it out through the appetizers, things eventually picked up.
I started with the tuna tartare which was a bit oversauced, but the next course delivered a succulent sea bass with grilled lemon and fennel. My companion found the shrimp risotto cooked to perfection, and I couldn’t resist liberating the butterflied tiger shrimp on top.
The mac and cheese had enough butter to knock my cholesterol up 5 points, but was creamy and more-ish. Take a pass on the onion rings, unless you like tempura batter, and save room for dessert.
The dulce de leche molten chocolate cake is the perfect combination of dark chocolate sponge, with thin, honey-coloured caramel spilling out the centre. If you suffer a truly sweet tooth, go for the cheesecake spring roll. Nothing says New York more than blending two cultural classics. The cheesecake melted within the deep-fried wrapper, enhancing the flavour.
If, by the next morning, you’re ready for another round, a real benefit of The Strand is complimentary “European” breakfast.
A bagel and a schmear from a street vendor are fine for a couple of days, but The Strand lays out a spread which will keep you well fuelled for pounding the pavements. Meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, and the usual bread, pastries, cereal and yogurt (even Greek), are on hand, and “to-go” coffee cups for mornings on the run.
The Strand NYC is accessible, easy, and convenient, and with all the freebies thrown in, it’d be tough to find a better room with a view.
The Strand NYC
33 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018, United States
+1 212 448 1024