Hotel Beacon has been a CB! Hotel Collection favorite for years — readers rave about this kid-friendly standby in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood. I had the chance to experience it firsthand on a recent New York City trip with my 10-year-old son, and quickly discovered the reason for the love. The Beacon checks all the “just right” boxes, from size to comfort to price point … it’s the Goldilocks of New York family hotels, in the best possible way.
Hotel Beacon is located in the heart of the Upper West Side, an easy 10-minute walk from Central Park, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the American Museum of Natural History. This is my favorite part of the city for a home base with kids, as it’s much less frenetic and feels more residential than the main tourist areas in Midtown and beyond (in fact, the Beacon opened as an apartment building in the 1920s, and still has a handful of permanent residents). Wide sidewalks and leafy, brownstone-lined streets make the neighborhood a pleasure to stroll.
Public transport connections from here are excellent. The 72nd Street subway station is nearby, and express trains whisk travelers quickly to Times Square and other hubs.
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Rooms and suites at the Beacon are amazingly large in comparison with other local hotels of the same standard — as the British say, there’s enough room to swing a cat. The sage-and-chocolate decor is tasteful if not remarkable, and the beds are sink-right-in soft. What struck me most was how quiet the property is; from our room on the 16th floor, I never heard even a whisper of street noise. Quite a feat!
My son and I stayed in a Deluxe Double Room, which offered plenty of space for the two of us. Larger families might prefer a one- or two-bedroom suite; each suite comes with a pullout sofa.
Room rates start around $229 per night in low season. For Manhattan, this is incredible value, especially given the quality and location.
All accommodations include a simple but efficient kitchenette. With a microwave, two-burner stove, mini-fridge, sink, toaster and coffee maker, plus basic cookware and dishware, ours had everything needed to prepare a full breakfast in the mornings or warm up takeout. A petite dining area offers a place to perch while you eat. Suites have slightly larger kitchens with additional features like ovens.
The staff can provide a limited selection of specialized kitchen equipment upon request. Grocery stocking is a snap — the Fairway and Citarella markets sit right across the street, and gourmet food icon Zabar’s is just a few blocks up. We made a habit of popping in for freshly baked bagels, babka and other goodies to enjoy in our room while we planned out the day.
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While the Beacon does not have an extensive list of onsite services and amenities, it boasts one big asset for families: a full, credit card-operated laundry room. Not only does this allow you to pack lighter and wash clothes as you go, but it offsets the inevitable spills and stains that come with family travel. There’s a modest fitness center as well, though we did so much walking around the city that there was no need to use it. Off the small but pleasant lobby sits the Beacon Bar, an appealing spot to wet whistles and watch the street life.
There is no true onsite restaurant or room service, but the Beacon Bar offers a menu of light bites that can be ordered to go. Viand Cafe next door to the hotel functions as its de facto dining room and serves fresh, well-prepared crowd pleasers such as omelets, sandwiches and salads.
The Upper West Side has a bottomless pool of kid-friendly places to eat. Nibble exquisite pastries at Maison Kayser; savor Italian at the Meatball Shop; sample delicious Greek cuisine at Kefi; and indulge in one of Levain Bakery‘s legendary cookies. Shake Shack has a branch nearby, and Gray’s Papaya, arguably New York’s best hot dog joint, is right across from the 72nd Street station. Or if the weather is nice, grab a picnic from Zabar’s and enjoy it in Central Park.
• Hotel Beacon adjoins the famed Beacon Theatre, which hosts big-name performers of all kinds. On evenings when shows are happening, the Beacon Bar can get very busy.
• Not all accommodations have great views, especially on lower floors. It’s worth upgrading to the Deluxe category, which guarantees the 15th floor or above. Request a room that faces Amsterdam Avenue and the park, if available.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Lisa Frederick.
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