As one of New York’s premier boutique hotels, it goes a long way to please
When I think of a peaceful retreat in midtown Manhattan, my thoughts drift to the lobby lounge of the Hotel Giraffe.
With balconies overlooking the corner of South Park Avenue and East 26h Street, the 12-story, red-brick hotel proved to be the perfect base of operations for my recent visit to New York. Its glassed-in lobby was a cheery place to have breakfast, enjoy the nightly wine-and-cheese reception, and just hang out and read newspapers and my Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City.
The evening reception in the hotel’s comfy living room—featuring a vegetable tray, irresistible mixed nuts and six kinds of cheeses and crackers—was such a pleasant way to end the day that I didn’t want it to end. The conversation was low-key, the atmosphere convivial. Accented with orchids and other potted plants, the room was furnished with couches, easy chairs, and wood, glass and marble-top tables. A pianist serenaded on a black baby grand.
Server Gabriella from Slovakia lit up the clubby room and made every guest feel special. After pouring my wine the first night, she remembered on the next that I liked the CK Mondavi & Family Cabernet Sauvignon. She also remembered my breakfast preferences the second day.
It’s that personal service that makes the 72-room hotel stand out. Also helpful were friendly front desk staffers Stefan and Nicholas, who displayed a lot of patience as they helped me book and then change a Super Shuttle bus reservation to La Guardia Airport.
You have to like any place with Giraffe in its name. Hotel owner Harry Kallan named the hotel for his favorite animal. Its giraffe references, though, are subtle. The computer for guest use in the lounge has a giraffe screensaver, one wall sports a black-and-white photo of a giraffe, and a shelf behind the bar displays wooden African animals, including the gawky but graceful creature. The bookshelf in my 10th-floor room (as in all guest rooms) contained Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffes by Lynn Sherr, a former correspondent for ABC News. The hotel logo incorporates a giraffe image as well, and there’s a large giraffe in the Rooftop Garden.
My room (1007) looked out on Park Avenue South and the New York Life Insurance Building, known for the gilded cupola that graces Manhattan’s skyline. The balcony, high ceilings and large mirror above the long granite desk gave my nest a lofty feel. Nice touches were the robe, slippers, refrigerator, potted bamboo and velvety chair with matching footstool.
Staying at the Hotel Giraffe opened up for me a whole new Manhattan neighborhood—NoMad—a hip pocket of New York well removed from the tourist crowds of Times Square and Rockefeller Center. But the No. 6 subway, only two blocks from the hotel, provides easy access to other parts of Manhattan. The Herman Melville Square street sign by the hotel recalls the author of Moby Dick, a resident of the neighborhood from 1863 until his death in 1891. Not far away is the Flatiron District and famous Flatiron Building with its triangular footprint.
Another discovery: a two-block stretch of Lexington Avenue called Curry Hill, an easy walk from the hotel. A fan of Indian cuisine, I salivated upon hearing about the bevy of ethnic restaurants and food shops clustered there. A signboard declaring “Best lunch buffet in NYC includes up to 22 items” lured me into Haandi restaurant, where I feasted in plain surroundings on chicken tikka masala, chicken biryani, potato samosas and other Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi dishes for $12. Another day I opted for Indian fast food at Curry in a Hurry.
Bread & Tulips, the Hotel Giraffe’s in-house restaurant, has a cozy, cellar-like vibe, offering brick-oven pizza, pastas and antipasti, along with duck, salmon and other dishes. Hotel guests get a 20 percent discount.
Just down the block is one of several locations of Sarabeth’s, renowned as one of New York’s best places for breakfast and brunch (and for its gourmet jams sold across the country). Hotel Giraffe guests can have a hot breakfast delivered from Sarabeth’s, which counts eggs Benedict and Fat and Fluffy French Toast among its prized staples.
The Hotel Giraffe’s complimentary continental breakfast is served buffet-style in the lobby. Arranged on the bar, the spread includes fresh fruit salad and whole fruit, yogurt, oatmeal with berries, cold cereals, boiled eggs, croissants and bagels. Available at the bar all day are cookies, pastries and fruit, along with coffee and tea.
Now that’s a lobby lounge to write home about.
For more information on the Hotel Giraffe, call 212-685-7700 or log on to https://hotelgiraffe.com.
The Hotel Giraffe is part of the Library Hotel Collection, which includes three other Manhattan boutique hotels—the Library Hotel, Casablanca Hotel and Hotel Elysee. Also in its portfolio are the Aria Hotel Budapest, Aria Hotel Prague and new Hotel X Toronto. (https://libraryhotelcollection.com)
By Randy Mink, Senior Editor,
Leisure Group Travel Magazine,
Photos courtesy Library Hotel Collection.