Standard, $259-$329; queen, $279-$349; king, $279-$349
C, E at 50th St.; 1 at 50th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Formerly a down-and-out Howard Johnson’s, this hotel has a cheery, contemporary lobby and freshly refurbished rooms with a happy look: curving headboards, wide-striped window treatments, and black-and-white cityscape paintings. There’s free coffee and cookies in the lobby. The drawbacks: painfully slow elevators, and the Continental-breakfast area is always packed. Here, you’re always aware of the presence of many, many other people—including large numbers of children and huge clusters of fanny-pack-wearing tourists. And you’ll hear traffic noise if you’re facing busy Eighth Avenue.