We chose to stay at Manhattan’s Affinia 50 for our kids’ introduction to New York City, and within moments of checking in, I knew we’d made the right decision. It was instantly made clear to me that Affinia 50 does things differently than standard big city hotel chains: they’re small enough to be personal, but large enough to provide the amenities families need.
First off, they deliver on space, a precious commodity in midtown Manhattan. Just as importantly, they know how to use it: their second floor communal Club Room serves as an extended living room for families, not a stuffy lobby. They’re able to provide personalized touches like custom-ordered pillows, walking tours and rubber duckies, and they let families know they’re wanted and welcome with special efforts like movie nights and wine receptions (at the same time!). In fact, from the time we arrived at the doorstep of the Affinia 50 (somewhat bedraggled from a day of cross-continental travel) to the time we departed for Boston, we considered it our oasis in a city that sometimes embraced us, and sometimes kicked our behinds.
During our stay, we got to know names and faces at Affinia 50, from the friendly doorman who always offered us a ‘Cheers!’ (and put up with greetings from Toby’s souvenir plush dog every time we went in or out) to the front desk staff to the concierge. We’d had the opportunity to customize our reservation before we arrived, with options to choose selections from their pillow menu, various experience kits (completely complimentary), and concierge services. I’d asked for a Swedish Memory Foam pillow (simply because I love them), and a ‘Walking Tour Kit’, which was waiting for us in our room. Included was an iPod Nano pre-loaded with walking tours and a pedometer (for use during our stay), which the kids loved using to record their daily mileage through New York.
But what truly makes the Affinia is their Club Room. Located on the second floor, this space is part den, part home entertainment center, part office, and part breakfast nook, and served as our go-to location for recharging our batteries in the late afternoons, as well as our morning escape for complimentary coffee, newspapers, and wifi.
Comprised of three rooms of sofas, arm chairs, fireplaces, and flat screens, there’s enough space that business men and women can be working in some sections (the wifi is free here, though not in the suites or rooms) and kids can be watching a movie or playing games in another. On Sundays, Affinia hosts a movie night with popcorn for the kids coupled with a complementary wine reception for the adults, and on week nights, various themed nights for the kids are on offer (on the day we left, it was to be a Nintendo Sports game night).
Before arriving at the Affinia 50, I was a little worried about the midtown location. Would we be close enough to the park? To the theater district? What about the neighborhood? Would there be kid-friendly restaurants nearby? I shouldn’t have worried. I loved that Affinia 50 is within easy walking distance of Rockefeller Center (straight up 50th) and Times Square (15 minutes). A grocery store is only three blocks away (useful for stocking your full-sized refrigerator), and the Lexington/53rd Street subway station easily gets you uptown or downtown (don’t ask me about crosstown…I never did master that).
We stayed in one of Affinia 50’s a one bedroom deluxe suites, which are amazing for families: first off, they’re huge by Manhattan standards (heck, their standard rooms are huge by Manhattan standards). Booking a suite gets you a full kitchen, living room space (with pull-out double bed), large separate bedroom (ours had two queens), and a decent-sized bathroom. Oh, and a balcony with a fabulous view! They brought us a rollaway too, and we comfortably slept six. The decor was what I’d call comfortably chic, and the bathroom was clearly recently updated. The kitchen was functional and very convenient but not newly appointed (I have a feeling these things are being done in stages) and the balcony was large and a welcome respite in the evenings.
A buffet breakfast is served in the Club Room every morning ($16.95 for adults, $6.95 for kids). We tried it on our last morning and all gave it two thumbs up, but otherwise took advantage of our full kitchen to make breakfast in the room.
Affinia 50 does house a far more extensive exercise room than I expected. Normally, this is just the type of amenity I look for and take advantage of, but this trip, I never used it once…with so much walking in NYC, I didn’t need it…or so I told myself!) There’s no restaurant on-site, but room service is available through Mint, located across the street.
Date last visited: June 2011
Room rates: Ranging from approximately $250-under $400 per night.
Website: Affinia 50
Directions: Affinia 50 is located at 155 E. 50th. Extensive driving directions can be found online, but if you’re without a car and arriving from either airport, I suggest a taxi. Note: I was told by the transit authority that standard fare from either airport to midtown Manhattan would cost $45. Our drive from LaGuardia to Affinia 50 cost me under $30.
As I disclose whenever applicable, I received a substantial media rate for my deluxe suite at Affinia 50. While the hotel’s generosity is appreciated, this rate came with no expectation of a positive review.