There’s nothing like a weekend in the city for raising the holiday cheer quotient. Every neighborhood in Manhattan celebrates in its own way. Check into one of the following hotels and enjoy enchanting department store window displays, legendary Christmas trees and festive song and dance, all within walking distance of your room.
Cheerfully decorated in bright, modern style, the affordable Aloft has 124 rooms and amenities including a gym, a bar with a DJ, a pool table and displays of art from a nearby cultural foundation, Art in Flux. While close to several subway lines, Harlem offers plenty of nearby attractions. Grab coffee at artisanal Lenox Coffee Roasters (lenoxcoffee.com). Shop for gifts at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market, 52 W. 116th St., where stalls overflow with traditional African crafts and textiles.
Visit the Studio Museum in Harlem (studiomuseum.org), with a large collection of work by artists of African descent. There’s a dinner spot for every craving. Jin Ramen, at 3183 Broadway, serves Japanese noodle soups perfect for cold weather. Amy Ruth’s, 113 W. 116th St., offers chicken and waffles. Vinateria, 2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd., has small plates and wine. The Apollo Theater (apollotheater.org) hosts the double Dutch Holiday Classic, an annual jump rope competition; a special holiday Amateur Night, and a Kwanzaa celebration. Before heading home, indulge in the Sunday gospel brunch at Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster (redroosterharlem.com). December weekend rates at Aloft start at about $190 per night.
INFO Aloft Harlem, 2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd., 212-749-4000, alofthotels.com
NYLO HOTEL, Upper West Side
This boutique hotel in a classic prewar building evokes the neighborhood’s past, with a vintage lobby and elevator and a speakeasy-style bar serving Prohibition-era cocktails. Two fun restaurants — Serafina with Northern Italian (serafinarestaurant.com) and Red Farm with trendy Chinese (redfarmnyc.com) — are also in the building.
Make it your base for excursions to Central Park and the holiday market at Columbus Circle (centralpark.com). The American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org) displays its origami holiday tree, decorated with more than 800 origami creatures, with volunteers on hand to teach visitors paper-folding techniques. The Beacon Theatre (beacontheatre.com), just two blocks down Broadway, is featuring several holiday-themed shows, including three nights with a cappella sensation Pentatonix. Lincoln Center (lincolncenter.org) is also convenient: Zip over to see the New York City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” or hear the New York Philharmonic perform Handel’s “Messiah.” When you book online, Nylo offers $25 valet parking for 24 hours. December weekend rates start around $400/night.
INFO Nylo Hotel, 2178 Broadway, 800-509-7598, nylohotelnyc.com
HOTEL WALES, Upper East Side
Far from the midtown crowds, and very close to some of the best museums in the world, the Hotel Wales is a civilized place for a holiday break. Start the day with breakfast from Sarabeth’s Kitchen (sarabethsrestaurants.com), located in the hotel lobby. They’ll deliver to your room if you’d rather eat in your pajamas. Make your way down Fifth to the southeast corner of Central Park to admire the 4,000-pound, 32-foot-high menorah built by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. At the Plaza’s Palm Court restaurant (theplazany.com), The Eloise Holiday Tea ($50 per child, ages 12 and under), includes eggnog cream éclairs, gingerbread red velvet cake and peppermint cotton candy.
Get dressed and go shopping: In addition to art, the Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt, Neue Galerie and Jewish Museum have well-stocked shops with unique holiday gifts. The Nylo’s Museum Mile Package includes two tickets to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where you can view the Neapolitan Creche under the museum’s towering Christmas tree, and a $50 gift card to E.A.T., the quintessential lunch spot nearby on Madison Avenue. December weekend rates at the Wales start around $220 per night.
INFO Hotel Wales, 1295 Madison Ave., 212-876-6000 or toll-free 866-925-3746, hotelwalesnyc.com
GREENWICH HOTEL, TriBeCa
This luxurious hotel is near TriBeCa’s trendy restaurants and shopping, as well as the avant-garde Flea Theater, (theflea.org) which is once again presenting its annual “Nut/Cracked,” a Nutcracker that includes tap dancing and disco. Nearby Brookfield Place (brookfieldplaceny.com), adjacent to Battery Park, is another indoor destination for holiday shopping, dining and entertainment. Buy edible stocking stuffers from French candy purveyor La Cure Gourmande at the Le District French marketplace. Enjoy a free one-hour production of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” on the Winter Garden stage, admire the Rockwell Group-designed holiday light installation above it, have your picture taken with Santa every day on the second floor through Dec. 24. There’s even an outdoor ice skating rink with views of the Statue of Liberty. After all of this activity, relax in the Greenwich spa, which offers poolside yoga and meditation as well as seasonal baths scented with spicy ginger to soothe stressed revelers.
The Greenwich Hotel is also within walking distance of the One World Observatory, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and the luxury shopping mall in the Calatrava-designed Oculus at World Trade Center Transportation Hub. City Pulse is an interactive skyline concierge allowing visitors to connect with New York landmarks and neighborhoods while overlooking the city in the One World Observator at One World Trade Center. December weekend rates start around $795 a night.
INFO The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich St., 212-941-8900, thegreenwichhotel.com
This hotel with trendy micro rooms is well located for seeing the classic midtown holiday sights. Inspired by aircraft design, the small but sleek “cabins” include rooms with a queen bed and bunk beds, good for families with kids. Yotel prides itself on its technological savvy. Computer kiosks promise check-in in under a minute. If you arrive early, give your bags to the robotic luggage concierge, and watch it stow them in their own secure cubby. Fans of department store holiday windows can head to Macy’s, Lord & Taylor or Saks. The Winter Village in Bryant Park (bryantpark.org) has 125 holiday kiosks featuring unusual and handmade gifts. Skating is free on the park’s rink (skate rental $20). Warm up with hot chocolate and pastries at Maison Kayser (maison-kayser-usa.com), next to the park on 40th Street or make a reservation for the Holiday Carolers’ Brunch at the Lambs Club (thelambsclub.com), featuring Broadway chorus veterans in Victorian garb singing Christmas songs by the dining room fireplace. Get tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (rockettes.com) and enjoy the tree at Rockefeller Center before or after the show. The Holiday Train Show at the New York Transit Museum Store in Grand Central Terminal (grandcentralterminal.com) features vintage Lionel trains from the museum’s collection. December weekend rates at Yotel start around $320 per night.
INFO Yotel New York, 570 10th Ave., 646-449-7700, yotel.com
The Winter Village in Bryant Park (bryantpark.org) has 125 holiday kiosks featuring unusual and handmade gifts. Skating is free on the park’s rink (skate rental $20). Warm up with hot chocolate and pastries at Maison Kayser (maison-kayser-usa.com), next to the park on 40th Street or make a reservation for the Holiday Carolers’ Brunch at the Lambs Club (thelambsclub.com), featuring Broadway chorus veterans in Victorian garb singing Christmas songs by the dining room fireplace. Get tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (rockettes.com) and enjoy the tree at Rockefeller Center before or after the show. The Holiday Train Show at the New York Transit Museum Store in Grand Central Terminal (grandcentralterminal.com) features vintage Lionel trains from the museum’s collection. December weekend rates at Yotel start around $320 per night.
INFO Yotel New York, 570 10th Ave., 646-449-7700, yotel.com