Robert Redford sprints past the Beacon Hotel, a stodgy budget property with a black awning, as he flees an assassin on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The Beacon looks a lot better today – as does the West Side. In recent years this quiet hotel has upped its game, sprucing up its rooms – many are large with kitchenettes – and making the most of its location next to the Beacon Theater, a magnet for blast-from-the-past rock groups (Cyndi Lauper performs on July 10, Earth, Wind & Fire on September 24 and 25). As for the old awning, its most recent replacement is an elegant navy blue.
The newest change up? The Beacon Bar, a moody lounge tucked between the hotel and theater. Though it’s open daily by noon as an agreeable alternative to Starbucks – it serves coffees and snacks in addition to beers, wines and craft cocktails – moody lighting and leather banquettes give it a night-time vibe that’s welcome in a residential neighborhood best known as home to supermarkets (Fairway, Citerella, Zabar’s) and the American Museum of Natural History.
The crowd on a recent evening was a mix of hotel guests and locals, including a table of dancers fresh from a class at Steps, the big studio across the street. As my companion downed an on-tap Brooklyn Summer Ale, I sipped a Guilio Caesar – gin, elderflower liquor, ginger and Peyard on the rocks ($12) — and watched the Mets lose (again) on a large flatscreen above the bar.
Best detail: a small plate of mixed nuts, a staple of old-style hotels that’s never out of style.
Beacon Bar at the Beacon Hotel, 2130 Broadway at 75tth Street; 212 787-1100. Open Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m. and Sunday noon to midnight.