By Terry Trucco
Where do you want to be when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marches into town later this month?
The constellation of hotels with rooms overlooking the festivities changed dramatically in 2012 when the route switched from Seventh Avenue to Sixth.
Though the room count instantly shrunk, it’s inched up over the years thanks to the addition of three new hotels, including two glamour-magnets near Central Park, ideally positioned for watching balloons, baton twirlers and marching bands.
It helps, too, that the biggest hotel in town — the 1,980-room New York Hilton Midtown— is positioned along the current route.
If you haven’t booked a parade room yet, get cracking. Inventory is shrinking fast, but prices won’t. November, in fact, is the ideal time to book — for next year. Most hotels take names of interested guests year round and finalize reservations in the summer when prices are firmed up.
Don’t be tempted to book a parade room online. Most hotels, in fact, won’t let you. Parade rooms are expensive. The cheapest hover around $500 a night, most hotels require a minimum stay of three nights or more, and not all views are perfect. Just because a hotel faces the route, after all, doesn’t mean Sponge Bob will be visible from every window. “We want to talk with all prospective guests so we can provide the best room for their needs,” says Jonathan Stas, marketing manager at the Hilton.
And keep in mind: the parade is meant to be seen from the street; rooms on lower floors are preferable to — and pricier than — those on high, at least for one day of the year.
Here are our top ten parade route hotels.
Central Park West
Trump International New York Hotel & Tower This luxury tower is the first hotel the parade passes as it wends its way to Macy’s. Rooms facing Central Park West offer spectacular views provided you’re on a low floor. Those booking a room without a view can gain access to the private viewing area in front of the hotel. The hotel also offers a Thanksgiving package that includes breakfast in your room and tickets to Wolman Rink in Central Park. One Central Park West at 60th Street, 212 299-1000
Central Park South
JW Marriott Essex House This stylish Art Deco hotel is twice blessed when it comes to the parade. Not only do rooms gaze down upon the big event as it marches along Central Park South, the hotel’s South Park restaurant offers views from the ground floor. Guests with view-less rooms can reserve a view in the restaurant. 160 Central Park South between Sixth and Seventh avenues; 212 247-0300
Sixth Avenue, aka Avenue of the Americas
Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park For 364 days of the year the Ritz-Carlton’s cushy rooms facing Central Park on a high floor are most coveted. But on parade day the low floor rooms facing Sixth Avenue top the charts. The parade turns from Central Park South onto Sixth Avenue at the hotel, so guests get multiple views of the action. 50 Central Park at Sixth Avenue; 212 308-9100
1 Hotel Central Park One of New York’s greenest hotels — and we’re not just talking about the ivy that envelops the brick exterior — 1 Hotel Central Park opened in 2015, a feast of reclaimed wood, energy efficiency and local sourcing. The hotel also has the good luck to stand directly above the parade route and boasts rooms with excellent views, many outfitted with the ultimate parade-watching accoutrement — window seats. 1414 Avenue of the Americas, 212 703-2001
The Quin This small luxury hotel opened in 2013 just in time for Thanksgiving and has offered parade packages ever since. And small wonder: the hotel’s east-facing rooms look directly at the parade. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Experience includes a room or suite with a view and a continental breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries, coffee and teas on Thanksgiving morning. Non-package rooms are also available. 101 West 57th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 212 245-7846
Warwick New York Views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were probably the last thing William Randolph Hearst thought about in 1926 when he commissioned this 36-story brick tower as an apartment hotel for his honey, the starlet Marion Davies. But the fully renovated hotel is well stocked with rooms in pale, soothing hues that look directly upon the parade. 65 54th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 212 247-2700.
New York Hilton Midtown As befits the largest hotel on the parade route, the New York Hilton Midtown offers a staggering array of parade watching options — nine in all, from premium corner rooms on low floors so you can see the parade arrive and meander along Sixth Avenue to less pricey partial views on higher floors as the parade journeys south to Radio City Music Hall. Hilton rooms are spacious by Manhattan standards, and the renovated executive floor rooms and suites are gorgeous, cool, blue and sleek, if mid-century mod is to your liking (unfortunately, they’re situated on high floors). Sidewalk watching is restricted to hotel guests, you might still score a good look if you choose a non-view room. 1335 Avenue of the Americas between 53rd and 54th streets; 212 586-7000.
Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square This spacious Residence Inn occupies a prime spot not far from the parade’s grand finale. In addition to suites facing Sixth Avenue, a limited number of corner rooms offer double views, so you can watch the parade arrive and see it march along the avenue. In addition to direct and partial views the hotel serves up sky views, which means you’ll be looking down on the festivities. 1033 Avenue of the Americas at 39th Street; 212-380-5003
Courtyard Marriott New York Manhattan/Herald Square Billeted in a former bank, this newish hotel, opened in 2013 by Major Michel Bloomberg, stands directly across the street from Macy’s. For those who miss out on — or don’t want to pay for — a room with a parade view, guests can book a spot at the viewing party in the hotel’s glassed-in patio facing the parade’s big finale at Herald Square. The not insubstantial cost of your party ticket includes a buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, bagels, muffins and hot chocolate. 71 West 35th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 800 228-9290
The Night Before Thanksgiving
Excelsior Watching the balloons inflate, a massive undertaking on the streets bracketing the American Museum of Natural History, offers a unique perspective on the parade, ideal if you don’t care about floats and marching bands. The Excelsior, a moderately priced 1920s hotel, offers terrific views of the proceedings and entry to the street (since 9/11 access to balloon-inflation streets has been restricted). With its location a short walk from the parade’s start, you can probably score a good perch on the street the following day, provided you wake up early. 45 West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue; 212 362-9200
Parade photo courtesy Hilton Hotels