The Franklin Hotel
Updated: Feb 20, 2014
id: small, chic boutique hotel
cool detail: neon sign from 1929
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: Rooms in this chic little bed and breakfast are so tiny there could be a size requirement for guests. But with colors Marie Antoinette would adore and a handsome refurbishment in 2008, this is a great place to stay if you like being in a quiet, residential neighborhood and room size doesn’t matter.
The place is evocative. One moment it feels like a small, narrow gauge hotel in Paris. The next it’s London: the tiny ice blue sitting room and smart little breakfast room with skirted tables could be in an English town house, from the gently-worn, pillow-strewn sofa to the fresh flowers. And it’s smack in the middle of Gossip Girl territory (enough said).
Given its location and size (50 rooms), the Franklin is ideal for a quick shopping trip or a romantic weekend -- without the kids. Just pack light.
Rooms: King-bed rooms are almost spacious (for New York), but queen-bed rooms range from small to minuscule. The smallest have queen-size beds but no closets (a full-length mirror hides a compact rod holding hangers and the hotel bathrobe). As for bathrooms, the toilet and stall shower are behind a door but the sink (cute but teeny) is on full view, opposite the bed, as in a classic London bedsit.
Move up a couple of price notches and you get a full-size bathroom, freshly tiled, with everything behind one door including a tub/shower combo. But regardless of size, rooms are pretty and inviting, with crystal chandeliers, pale blue walls, immaculate sheets and flatpanel TVs.
Food and drink: There’s no restaurant but an appealing buffet of breakfast meats, cheeses, Danish pastry, juice and coffee is served daily in a dining area outfitted with small, round, skirted tables. At 5 pm, wine, cheese and sushi are offered; the room fills up fast and sounds like a cocktail party (arrive early as nibbles disappear quickly). A cappuccino/espresso machine works 24 hours.
Amenities: Free WiFi. IPod-compatible clock radios. Bulgari toiletries. Pets under 30 lbs. are welcome free of charge provided they stay in a kennel-box in your room and don’t wander around the lobby biting ankles. No fitness room, but guests get passes to the New York Sports Club nearby. Complimentary newspapers are stacked in the sitting room.
Surroundings: A boring block (a huge parking garage is next door) in a residential neighborhood but near good stuff including the William Doyle auction house, Museum Mile (the Metropolitan, Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt and Jewish museums to name a few) Central Park and, if you don’t mind walking, Barneys, Bloomingdales and the plenteous restaurants and shops the East Side offers. The subway station and bus stops are a block away, and taxis prowl the area religiously.
Back story: The Franklin opened for business as a hotel in 1929 (that vintage neon sign is the real deal). And though it has gone through various incarnations, it has been a hotel ever since. I stayed here for the first time in the early 1990s shortly after a renovation, and though I had the smallest room on offer, I felt like I'd stepped into a Jean Rhys novel, in a good way. The latest renovation bumped the luxury up a notch, if not the square footage.
Keep in Mind: Window air conditioners. Most rooms have no views (and curtains should be kept shut). Daily $12 service charge.
What We Saw: