Finding a great place to stay in New York City is easy if you're willing to spend $500 a day for five-star hotels like the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton.
Here are very good but more affordable choices: two four-star hotels that are an easy walk to Broadway shows or Fifth Avenue shops, and a chic stay for the young and hip.
We've quoted advertised rates, but you can sometimes find special deals on Expedia.com, Quikbook.com, or the hotel's Web site.
The Italian-owned Michelangelo exudes Old World charm, with tapestry walls, oil paintings, and Venetian and Florentine fabrics in the lobby. The spacious guest rooms feature coffered ceilings, crown molding, cherry furniture, oversize tubs, and a mini-TV in the bathroom. Bedtime chocolates are from Perugina; complimentary breakfasts offer pastries and espresso or cappuccino.
The Michelangelo, 152 W. 51st St.; 800-237-0990; michelangelohotel.com. Room rates: $395 to $495 a night, double occupancy.
The Sofitel won a Hermes Award for its bold design--a 30-foot curved glass tower flanked by two 20-story wings. Upper-floor views are fabulous. The art-deco lobby with teak walls and bold contemporary art offers a dramatic welcome.
Stylish rooms in honey and cream have headboards of maple or rosewood, and baths feature separate walk-in showers. The French touch is evident in old Paris photos, Evian water, an orchid with evening turndown, and an on-site brasserie. It's all one block from Fifth Avenue shopping.
Sofitel, 45 W. 44th St.; 212-354-8844; sofitel.com. Rates: doubles $249 to $519 a night.
For cool New York, head for the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea, close to the meatpacking district, a hot spot for restaurants and nightlife.
The hotel, housed in the former headquarters of a maritime union, has rooms as shipshape as a cruise cabin, with whimsical butterfly-pattern fabric headboards, five-foot porthole windows, flat-screen TVs, and built-ins that make the most of compact space. The long lobby offers ample seating, big arched windows, Japanese-lantern lighting, and a fireplace for winter warming. Two restaurants, La Bottega and Matsuri, are among the "in" places.
Maritime Hotel, 363 W. 16th St.; 212-242-4300; themaritimehotel.com. Rates: $245 to $295 a night.
Bottom line: New York isn't cheap, but you can find great hotels at good prices.