Windows. When you think of choosing a hotel, they may not be the first item that springs to mind. Oh sure, you want a room that’s got them (hopefully more than one) and if they look out over something other than a parking lot that’s great too. But here’s another thing about windows – not only are they for looking out of, they all too often are for letting sound in.
So why am I starting a post about visiting New York City with kids by discussing windows? Well New York is of course famously the city that never sleeps, which when I was younger was always an appealing proposition. But now that I’m traveling with kids, what I want when I visit New York is a place where we will all sleep, and sleep well. That means my ideal New York City hotel room offers a place to hang my hat that’s a refuge from the crowds and excitement we experience everywhere else in the city.
And that’s where the windows come in. Far too often in New York, hotel windows serve as only the thinnest of barriers between your family and the symphony of street noise. But if a little serenity in the middle of your New York vacation is what you’re looking for, than I’ve got the perfect hotel for you: The Kitano.
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The Kitano may offer the most perfectly soundproof windows of any hotel in the city (heck, I’ll go out on a limb, possibly of any city). Although our room was lined with windows – gorgeous windows that let in loads of natural light, offered a voyeuristic look into some fabulous apartments across the street, and directly overlooked Park Avenue – there was no traffic noise in our room. I’m not exaggerating. We might as well have been in the middle of the countryside.
But of course windows aren’t the only reason we really enjoyed our stay at The Kitano. The Japanese-owned hotel offers many quiet, thoughtful touches that make a stay there a study in Zen. For one thing, both the public and private spaces are full of original art, including a Botero sculpture, aptly named DOG, in the lobby.
For another, the spacious rooms are decorated in soothing, neutral colors that may encourage even your children to speak softly.
With only eleven rooms on most of the floors, there’s not a lot of noise in the hallway either, and the hotel helps to guarantee this by placing a housekeeping closet on each floor. That means no noisy carts full of towels and cleaning supplies rolling past.
But all of these perks aside, if you asked Teddy what his favorite thing about The Kitano was he’d quickly tell you it was the toilet. That’s because it came equipped not only with a heated seat, but a built-in bidet and dryer. I’ll tell you, there’s not really much that’s funnier than listening to the giggles elicited by your child’s bottom being automatically washed.
And while my vote for the best bathroom amenity was the deep Jacuzzi tub. I’ll admit that the heated toilet seat – and towel racks – were also a nice touch.
We were fortunate enough on our stay to be offered the Junior Executive Suite on the 17th floor (this is the top floor to stay on – the 18th floor is a banquet space). Our bathroom and sleeping area were large and comfortable, and honestly, I wanted to take the closet home with me. Not only did it offer its own window it came fully stocked with robes, slippers, and a shoehorn. I can’t remember the last time I used a shoehorn, but I love that one was hanging on the wall. I also loved the ample drawer and counter space – how often does a hotel room offer such great clutter containment?
This floor has only five rooms, three of them, including the one we stayed in, available as adjoining. If you were to visit New York on a trip with multiple families or for a family reunion, these suites would offer you an ample space to spread out.
The Kitano also offers Townhouse Suites at the back of the main hotel building. The bedrooms in these suites are located in the more modern hotel, and thus have those all-important soundproof windows. But the living space (which has a pullout sleeper couch), connected by a hallway, is in a townhouse overlooking 38th Street through large bay windows.
A bit less quiet perhaps, but a lovely touch of older New York nonetheless.
If the all-out luxury and space of these suites is more than you need or want to pay for, you’ll find other great options for families at The Kitano. Their basic rooms (what the hotel calls Superior Rooms) start at 305 square feet, generous by New York City standards, and certainly large enough for a family of four that is willing to sleep together. And for not much more money, you can reserve a Premier Room, which is slightly larger, and into which you can have the hotel place an extra bed if you need one. In fact, a corner Premier Room with two double beds and a sofa costs only about $30 more a night.
The Kitano’s location is ideal for a variety of reasons. For one thing, there are the views of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the East River.
For another, the hotel is right down the street from Grand Central Station, a fun landmark to visit with kids and also an easy place to catch a subway up- or downtown. You can also easily walk to the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and Time Square – and then return to the more quiet, residential neighborhood where the hotel is located. There are no throngs of tourists on the sidewalk and even on a rainy, cold Friday evening you can get a cab.
Are you going to pay for the quiet and luxury offered at the Kitano? Of course. A basic Superior Room with two double beds starts at around $300 per night. You can book the hotel’s standard junior suites for around $400 per night on some weekends. Interested in booking the Executive or Townhouse Suites? Give the hotel a call for pricing, and expect to pay accordingly. And no matter what type of room you book, make sure you let them know you’ll be arriving with kids so they can help meet your needs – the hotel offers everything from cribs to cookies and milk for the youngest guests.
No matter what your budget is, if you’re going to stay in a Manhattan hotel on a New York City visit, I recommend spending as much as you can afford on your accommodations and then economizing in other ways – walking or taking the subway instead of cabs, finding less expensive ethnic restaurants for meals, and planning some free or low-cost activities like visiting Central Park, FAO Schwarz, or Grand Central Terminal, or riding on the Staten Island Ferry. Having a quiet, comfortable place like The Kitano to return to after your adventures is worth every penny.
The Kitano is a member of Preferred Hotel Group’s Summit Hotels & Resorts collection and also has Preferred Family certification. You can find more hotels that have been carefully designated as family friendly at the Preferred Family site.
I received a discounted rate on our two-night stay at The Kitano. Although some of my posts do appear on the Preferred Family site, I have not been compensated by Preferred Hotels. You can always count on me to let you know when I’ve received something for free and to share my honest opinion.