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The Christopher Columbus film/John Hughes penned 1990 classic Home Alone made McCauley Culkin an international film star. Two years later, Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister, was lost again and alone — this time in New York City at the Plaza Hotel. Stay at Courtyard New York Manhattan / Midtown East and you will be home and not alone. The McCallister family may not be there to greet you, but Zaida Morales and her Courtyard team will welcome you to her Courtyard as family.
The Courtyard Midtown East resides at 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue and provides 217 guest rooms and 104 suites. Stay at the Courtyard Midtown East and stay at your “home” in the centrally located neighborhood — offering amazing, walkable access to landmarks including the iconic Art-Deco Chrysler Building (a view from your hotel window), Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, shopping on lux 5th avenue, Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and even traversing to Times Square (if this is your pleasure).
There is a subway station about 300 feet outside the doors of the hotel, and the midtown east area grants easy access to jump on the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R B, D, F, M, E and 7 trains.
Restaurants abound in and near your “home” at 53rd and 3rd Avenue
Hop on the E train and 18 minutes later you might sit in the same seat at Keen’s Steakhouse, near 36th Street and 6th Avenue, where Paul Giamatti dined and enforced eating — in character — of their famous mutton chops while filming Billions. The historic steakhouse in Herald Square opened in 1885, and dining there is a step back in history, surrounded by the hundreds and hundreds of smoking pipes adorning the walls. Diners witness a custom dating back to 17th century England, when surrendering your pipe at the door for a return visit was a luxury of times past.
Another easy E (cultural reference not intended) train destination is Rooftop Restaurant at RH New York in the Meatpacking District in lower Manhattan. The glass-encased Rooftop Restaurant is perched atop the 90,000 square foot RH store and offers a gorgeous setting accented by greenery from Japanese boxwood hedging and pleached London plane trees, trickling fountains, and decadent chandeliers. RH creates an atmosphere of formal opulence and low-key comfort — an inviting combination.
Although a trendy destination, the RH delivers service that is kind and on-target, and families are found throughout the fabulous dining space.
What to eat? Indulge in one of the finest burgers on the planet. The RH Burger offers a taste explosion detonated by the sourced hamburger, zesty pickles, the delectable Dijonnaise, and finalized by the best pork belly bacon to ever complement a burger. My family of five has never, ever ordered the same menu choice in our dining history. We all ordered the RH Burger, and we would do the same upon return to this must visit dining destination.
The closest foodie choice near the Courtyard Midtown East is only 433 feet out the door. The iconic Ess-A-Bagel, between 50th and 51st at 3rd Avenue, offers, in this author’s opinion, the best in class bagels in all of the five boroughs. Melanie Frost and her aunt, Florence, continue the Wilpon and Wenzelburg Austrian family tradition, since 1975, of memorable, awesome, inspired bagels.
A couple of Suites and Lobbies tips to accompany your pumpernickel with cream cheese:
- (1) skip the around the block line and go to the take-away, no wait line at the back of the store (no toasting, but a warm Ess-a-Bagel with cream cheese is something to write about, and I am, without waiting 45 minutes);
- (2) on a warmer day take your Ess-a-Bagel to GreenAcre Park on 51st for an idyllic setting with zen sounds of the park’s waterfall.
Warmth at a hotel delivers an experience exceeding aesthetics
The Courtyard New York Manhattan / Midtown East delivers a bouquet like one of your favorite wines. Not the most expensive or trendy selection, but rather the vineyard you keep returning to because it reminds you of a particular feeling or emotion. The Courtyard at 53rd and 3rd Avenue is that choice. The hotel is personified by Zaida Morales, director of front office and Jose Pacheco, the manager of front office. Morales corresponded with me prior to our arrival and granted a pre-visit exploration of the hotel’s character through her delightful wit and charm. Enter the lobby from 3rd Avenue and a smile awaits at check-in from the always impressively dressed Pacheco.
Our family of five was upgraded, through our Marriott Bonvoy® status, to an almost 450 square foot two queens with sofa bed junior suite. The average size hotel room in Manhattan is approximately 300 square feet. We escaped buying a second room with the 50% more space accommodated in our Chrysler Building view family-friendly space.
Do you have to stay at a luxury hotel to receive personal service? The Courtyard Midtown East answers that question definitively. Morales ensures that any request is answered, and answered in a timely fashion. Our air conditioning appeared to be not working, but the maintenance personnel arrived less than five minutes after my call to the front desk and — with a friendly smile — removed the sofa cushion we inadvertently placed near the air conditioning unit’s sensor. Housekeeping is not a luxury at this hotel; it is a daily occurrence at this Courtyard. Enjoy your daily food and beverage credit at the BistroTable 866 and lounge in the “living room,” decked out on the 12th floor with skyline views.
Did I say personal? Morales bought Jack Small, Nick Small, and Hannah Small, my children, “I Love NYC” t-shirts. To me, and perhaps many Marriott Bonvoy® travelers, I would choose this “amenity” every time over marble floors and luxury appointments at a property.
I stayed at the Courtyard Midtown East for seven nights, and the character, service and personality of this hotel rates as a top midtown home for me. I stayed — the evening prior to my arrival at the 53rd and 3rd Avenue location — across town to the west and south at the Courtyard Midtown West in Hudson Yards. The late 2019 arrival is stunning and presents aesthetics superior to the Courtyard to the east, but I would return to the Courtyard Midtown East each and every occasion to feel like I was at “home,” and that Morales was there to welcome me as part of the hotel’s family.
I secured a rate of $192 per night plus taxes and fees after a successful Best Rate Guarantee submission from $281 per night. The hotel is a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy® selection and ranges in points from 40,000 to 60,000 per night.
Another wonderful, personal memory during our stay was celebrating Thanksgiving in the Big Apple. Have you ever wanted to be up close and center during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Lisa Small, Jack Small, Nick Small, and Hannah Small emphatically voted “yes,” even agreeing to endure fighting for viewing space as early as 5am on November 25th.
Thankfully, I made reservations at the Southgate Restaurant at the JW Marriott Essex House New York at Central Park. Essex House is a past favorite and frequent hotel destination of mine, offering Art Deco decadence and historical refinement at Central Park South. Unfortunately, a snafu occurred and I was notified my confirmed breakfast reservation for five was cancelled. John Rieman, the general manager of the hotel, immediately rescued my family from parade purgatory. He personally reinstated our reservation, bought my children Essex House gifts, and included his wonderful staff — most notably the delightful Julette Johnson — in delivering an incredible Turkey day for all of us.
Did I mention that Rieman arranged front row spots for us at the Essex House special viewing area for the parade!
Jackie Ostick hosts a foodie adventure through Little Italy and Nolita, allowing for a three hour tour of the two neighborhoods, their history, and oh, by the way, incredible food tastings. Ostick, a Broadway and off-Broadway performer, delights you with her welcoming and bubbly personality as she leads you to seven amazing food locales between Little Italy and Nolita (North of Little Italy), describing building appointments and history of the blocks along the way. Regale in her stories of Martin Scorsese’s church where he served as an altar boy, or the location Francis Ford Coppola chose for Godfather.
Seven appetizing stops and you are full at the end of the tour. I loved the fresh, made in front of us, Prosciutto Margherita brick-oven Margherita pizza at Emporia at 231 Mott Street. Despana Fine Foods (technically, across the border in Soho), delivered a tie for a memorable and delicious tasting via the amazing Chorizo Bocadillo; Despaña Brand Traditional Chorizo, Manchego Cheese Drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Judge for yourself on the Foods of NY Tour, and you will win no matter what you choose.
Venture across the bridge over to Brooklyn to judge a different contest — which borough serves the best Pizza? Traditionally, I bee-line to Prince Street Pizza. The owners of that iconic pizza haunt stepped away from operations, allegedly making racist comments, and I followed suit by skipping this Nolita destination for a slice. Instead, my family followed Dani, our lovely and extremely knowledgeable guide and self-confessed pie and slice lover, on a two hour pizzeria trek throughout the “hot” Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Dani, a native of Germany, loves pizza so much, and sharing her love and passion for pizza, I would not doubt she has frequented many, many of New York City’s approximately 2,500 pizzerias. Dani and I traded stories back and forth about pizza history. Our shared tales included the reason slices were “invented” at Lombardi’s after the opening in 1905; immigrants could not afford a pie for two cents, and the owner broke off pieces selling for only a penny. I ultimately bowed to her wisdom of the pie and the slice after stopping at five borough locations.
We all shared different answers when asked about our favorite Brooklyn Pizza stop; the majority of my family voted for the Detroit style pie served with caramelized cheese crust. My son, Nick, went rogue with his Ravioli slice, and I absolutely championed the Grandma slices — a distinct thin, rectangular style of Long-Island pizza complemented by a home-made, sweet red sauce at Best Pizza at 33 Havemeyer St.
Midtown East serves a wonderful menu of centrally located attractions and food favorites in this wonderful neighborhood, as well as easy access to the entirety of Manhattan and beyond. Travel to Midtown East with your family, make your NYC home away from home at the gracious, affordable and spacious Marriott Courtyard New York Manhattan / Midtown East.
David Small has a love affair with travel, and he “sees the world” through the eyes of his wife and children when they accompany him to destinations in the States and abroad. He is a Marriott Bonvoy enthusiast who enjoys every brand offered – rewarded by the richness of each experience and the people involved at each property.
Small runs a national media company, and he previously managed airline points loyalty programs for Sprint — in partnership with United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Midwest Express Airlines