HotelTonight App + More NYC Shenanigans

1.09.2013

Hello from the Algonquin Hotel!

I am sure people who read this blog wonder why I go to NYC so often and frankly, I have no idea! I just like the city, have a lot of friends in NYC (more than in DC actually), and work takes me up there occasionally, so I end up in the Big Apple every 2-3 months it seems! This was just a weekend trip and I took in October (yes...late again...) but I really wanted to make a post because I visited a lot of interesting places because I was alone this time. While I do love hanging out with friends, occasionally, I get an itch to travel alone so I can do exactly as I please ^_^


I especially wanted to talk about the Hotel Tonight app, available for both iPhones and Androids, which I used to book my stay at the Algonquin Hotel. Hotel Tonight basically lets you snag last minute deals for unsold rooms in various hotels. The deals are available till noon of the day you want to book (hence allowing you to get last minute discounts) and are up till the limited number of rooms available are gone. The upside of this app is that it features a ton of luxury hotels and you get a chance to stay in them for a huge discount!

The app covers the following cities/locations:
◆ EAST: New York, Boston, Miami, Atlantic City, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Brooklyn, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Myrtle Beach, Tampa Bay, Newport RI, Charlotte, Pittsburgh
◆ CENTRAL: Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, Santa Fe, St. Louis, Nashville, Cleveland, Detroit, Salt Lake - Park City, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Vail - Breckenridge
◆ WEST: Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Seattle, Reno, Palm Springs, Portland, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay, Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Honolulu, Sonoma County, Sacramento, Maui, Lake Tahoe
◆ CANADA: Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver
◆ MEXICO: Mexico City, Acapulco
◆ EUROPE: London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Berlin, Brussels, Nice, Paris
✈ AIRPORTS: ATL, BWI, BRU, DFW, DIA, EWR, IAD, IAH, JFK, LAX, LGA, LGW, MCO, MIA, PDX, PHL, PHX, SEA, SFO, YYZ
The downside, obviously is that you have be incredibly flexible and willing to literally wait till the last minute (aka the day of), to book a room. Also, there is no guarantee that you will find a room in a hotel you like. I noticed that on some days there are a ton of luxury high end rooms for super low prices and on other days, even the "basic" rooms are rather expensive. So, there is a bit of luck involved....

Anyway, I snagged room at the Algonquin Hotel (#152 on TripAdvisor), a New York Historic Landmark. I picked this hotel because of its history, amusing liberal tendencies, and quite frankly, its close location to Times Square.

Some other interesting tidbits:
  • The Algonquin is the oldest operating hotel in NYC and the first to have electronic key locks.
  • William Faulkner wrote his 1950 Nobel Prize speech in his Algonquin Suite.
  • The Algonquin was the first leading New York hotel to welcome ladies traveling alone.
  • The Algonquin Oak Room launched the careers of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Peter Cincotti and Jamie Cullum and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006.
  • Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in Lerner's suite at the Algonquin.
  • Our most frequent overseas visitors are from the UK, among them Gertrude Lawrence, Noel Coward (whose suite was dedicated in 2005), Laurence Olivier, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, Charles Laughton, Diana Rigg and Anthony Hopkins.
  • Algonquin honeymooners include Douglas Fairbanks and Orson Welles.
  • Famous female visitors to the hotel range from Salvation Army Commander Evangeline Booth to Gertrude Stein to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
  • The Algonquin is the home of the $10,000 martini. It comes with a single piece of ice - a diamond from the in-house jeweler, Bader & Garrin.

Their basic rooms (1 Queen/1 Double) generally run between $300-600 in busy times and as low as $197/night during slow months (helpfully highlighted in blue on the Marriott reservation page aha). HT had a room for $169:

First time users: Use discount code TONIGHT to get $25 off (that's what I used)
I also heard rumors you can 'stack' codes using a personal affiliate code for another $25 off, which I haven't tried.
If you want to give that a shot, tweet/email me if you want mine. I don't want to to post mine here
cuz HT auto-generates rather personally identifiable codes -__-

I received the email confirmation as soon as reserved the room through HT - a very easy process because their app is bloody gorgeous and dream to navigate. Though it would be helpful if 1.) they had the alphabet down the side instead of making you scroll through every friggin city and 2.) made the address links clickable and open directly in Maps.

After I made my reservation around 2pm, I walked over to the hotel. I had a lot of trouble finding it because there were scaffolds in front of it :P but once I did, it was all a breeze from there. The front desk already knew about the HT app, so there was no explaining necessary. Since I had already paid for the room through the app, all they did was check my ID, give me my room card and up to the 4th floor I went!

A crappy panoramic shot...-_-

The hallways were rather narrow and my room quite small, but everything was very clean and the bathroom was completely modern :)


The picture above the bed is actually a light. You can switch it on or off and in the dark, it makes a lovely glow. The room had Wifi and an iHome station next to the bed and the shower was topnotch with a wonderfully scented bath kit and one of those "rain" shower heads.

SNSD, of course...

Unsurprisingly, since the The New Yorker was founded by members of the Algonquin Round Table, the room had a copy of the mag, which coincidentally, had a cover article on Kpop (read here)! The only downsides of the room was that the window looked out a upon a truly sketchy looking alley and had no way to turn off the blasting AC.

After I checked out the next day, I got an email from HT requesting feedback in exchange for 10 credits/$10 off on my next reservation through HT. Naturally, I couldn't resist putting in my 2 cents and to my surprise, not only did I get the 10 credit, but also received a personalized email, specifically noting my suggestions and thanking me for the feedback!

All in all, I very much enjoyed using the HT app and my stay at the Algonquin was very nice indeed! My only regret is that I wish I had explored the hotel more - particularly, meeting Matilda, the resident hotel cat, and shaking the hand of Hoy Wong, the city's oldest bartender who is almost 100 years old - but next time, next time!

Also I'm not affiliated with Hotel Tonight nor The Algonquin Hotel in any way. I'm just a sucker for travel apps and boutique hotels that I'm too poor to stay in at regular rates xD


Sadly, I didn't take many pictures of rest of my trip cuz I all I had with me was my iPad :( 

As a snack, I ate a dessert sandwich at Smush, which is right next to Bryant Park (above left), which is only a few blocks away from the Algonquin.  FYI, if you want to try a Smush sandwich, try to get there early because by late afternoon, they were out of most of the flavors....guhh...wanted to sample french toast so badly!

I ended up with a brownie, strawberry, vanilla ice cream sandwich. It was sinfully delcious and though rather pricy ($6.48 for one sandwich!), I was enamored by their hilarious "dessert sandwich" theme and *ahem* one of the cute boys who was making these behind the counter ;) Genius really - what girl doesn't like a cute boy handing her a sinfully tempting sweet xD? The shop set up is very simple - I wish I got a pic of it though, it reminded me of an urban Sesame Street!


Later, I headed down to SoHo and grabbed lunch Dos Caminos, a Mexican restaurant before heading to the Dia Art Foundation on Wooster Street. The food was so-so by the way, the best thing I had was rice & beans and charming Boing! papaya drink.


The Dia Art Foundation was a bloody pain to find and had to trek up the steepest set of stairs I've ever seen in my life. But it was all worth it because I was dying to check out the long-term art exhibition, The New York Room of Earth. It sucked because you were prohibited from snapping pics, but here's one I pulled off the official website:


Visitor Information
141 Wooster Street, between Prince Street and Houston Street New York City

Open Wednesday-Sunday, 12-6 pm (closed from 3-3:30 pm)
*Closed for summer June 10, 2012 - September 12, 2012

Admission is free.
The New York Earth Room is a work of art meant to be viewed, not entered.
Please do not touch the work.
Photography is not permitted.

It's a roomful of dirt :) More pics here.

On a related note, as I was googling pics of the Earth Room, I was pretty pissed to see there were a lot of assholes who took pictures of this exhibition to post on their personal blogs when it explicitly says in front of the exhibit: DO NOT TAKE PICTURES. Yet there were several stupendously selfish camwhores who just could not resist getting a picture of themselves in front of this room to somehow prove how "cosmopolitan" and "cultured" they are. Jesus people, have a little respect for the artist and and keep your damn twitchy fingers of your iPhones for one minute! Just enjoy the ridiculousness of the fact you are staring at 127,300 kilos of dirt that someone had the craziness to dump on the second floor of a NYC building.

Anyway, is this worth seeing? I would say if you're in the SoHo area, why yes it is! However, if you're in say Uptown, I wouldn't say it's super necessary to come all the way down to SoHo to spend 2 minutes looking at this room.

Cookie Dough, Tie Dye, S'mores

On the way to Uptown, I grabbed some atrociously expensive but adorable mini-cupcakes from Baked by Melissa. Don't remember the exact flavors but I do remember thinking they were deliciously moist yet ever so small :P

On top of a rock at the outskirts of Central Park.

I also rented a bike and spent 2-3 hours at Central Park! I biked around the whole place 2x (died on some of the uphill sections) and basically had a blast :) Thank goodness they were selling cold water everywhere - it was a serious workout xD  FYI you can only bike on the paths aka around the outskirts of the Park. I had walk my bike with me to Belvedere Castle because the bike rental shop ran out of locks and I couldn't go inside because I had nowhere to leave the bike :( So yeah, make sure you have a bike lock with you!


After that workout, I replenished my strength at Le Pain Quotidian, which was right next to Central Park! I had a delectable Ricotta tartine with mission figs, organic acacia honey and black pepper with an iced chamomile mint tea. The mint tea was GROSS (I seem to have bad luck with iced teas) but the ricotta tartine - yum yum! I've had it twice since at the Le Pain Quotidian in Tysons and it just hits the spot for me - it's so healthy and clean tasting with that hint of sweetness! I finished off my meal with a chia pudding, a seasonal dessert, which I enjoyed very much. I liked crunching the seeds between my teeth :)

From Union Station, DC.

Andddd Sunday came all too quickly....so it was back home for me the next day.   Already missing the hustle and bustle....

4 comments :

  1. Even though I live in NYC I love these kind of posts because I don't actually go out much :X I've biked in Central Park twice and I always give up at when I reach those uphills haha They're way too intense for me.
    Thanks for the app review! Will keep it in mind if I ever travel :]

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am going to download this app like right now! I am in need of last minute hotels next month. Sounds like you had a such a blast. I wish I lived closer to NY. I would be there all the time! The Dirt Room is VERY interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I need to download this app. I've been thinking of taking an impromptu weekend trip to NY from Toronto for a few week now. Might do it right after the lunar new years or at the beginning of May. I was going to use hotwire.com to book my hotel.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You might be qualified to get a free Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete

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