Gem Hotel Chelsea
300 W. 22nd St., at Eighth Ave.; 212-675-1911
Opened: November 2008
Starts at $159/night
It’s a bit cramped, but on the whole, the Gem feels like you’re staying in a friend’s Chelsea townhouse (if your friend offered nightly turndown and free designer water). Beds are dressed in clean white linens. Silhouette portraits of local actors adorn the walls. A downstairs retail space occassionally houses art exhibitions.
Dinner: Neapolitanish pizza at Co.
Breakfast: A heaping English breakfast at 202 in Chelsea Market.
Activity: Gallery-hopping by day; then catch The Cripple of Inishmaan at Atlantic Theater Company.
Souvenir: Padded yoga mat ($65) from the Rubin Museum of Art.
The Nu Hotel
85 Smith St., nr. Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill; 718-852-8585
Opened: July 2008
Starts at $179/night
Despite the bland exterior and rumbling corner location, the Nu has the feeling of a small European hotel, fitting for a neighborhood, Boerum Hill, that often draws its own Continental comparisons. The lobby has a small gift counter displaying items designed in Brooklyn. Rooms are spotless and unfussy, with playful touches like cork floors and bathroom chalkboards. Smith Street’s shopping and dining strip starts right across Atlantic Avenue.
Dinner: Smoked bacon and bourbon at Char No. 4.
Breakfast: Brunch at the General Greene in Fort Greene.
Activity: Scalp tickets for BAM’S Sounds Like Brooklyn Music Festival, with guaranteed sell-out concerts by Beirut and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Souvenir: A 75-cent pack of freshly baked pitas from Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue.
Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City
39-05 29th St., nr. 39th Ave., Long Island City; 718-707-3700
Opened: December 2008
Starts at $149/night
Yes, it’s a Holiday Inn and the location is a little bit grim. But the skyline views from this solitary high-rise are outstanding. Request a west-facing room (unless you’d prefer to gaze on Astoria, not that there’s anything wrong with that). The décor is generic, but the bathrooms are larger than their Manhattan counterparts. There’s a basic gym and an indoor pool in the basement.
Dinner: Old-school Italian at Manducatis, the Rao’s of Long Island City.
Lunch: Join the lineup of cabbies for some excellent chicken makhni at Five Star Punjabi Diner.
Activity: See Leandro Erlich’s spookily surreal Swimming Pool at P.S.1.
Souvenir: Grab a Queens Maptote bag ($17) silk-screened with a map of the borough at design store Site.