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From E-books to Beyonce — The Best of the New at New York City Hotels, 2013 Edition

It’s time for my annual over-the-shoulder look at the year that was in New York City hotels.

If New York felt unusually crowded in 2013 there was good reason. The city hosted 54.3 million visitors, up from 52.7 in 2012 and nearly 20 million more than in 2002.

And while some of them no doubt stayed with friends, relatives and Airbnb, others helped fill the 30 million hotel room nights sold, up 1 million from 2012. The results? Visitors on average paid a pricey $296 a night, and hotels enjoyed an 87.8 percent occupancy rate. Read more

Is Free WiFi About to Become the Norm at Luxury Hotels at Last?

Free WiFi: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

Free WiFi: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

This was a good week for those who believe WiFi is no different from hotel basics like sheets, towels and a shower with running water and should be included free of charge in the price of a room.

Mandarin Oriental announced that its hotels will offer their “exceptional” high-speed internet service on a complimentary basis. Guests will be able to connect up to six wireless devises free of charge. Read more

The Best Hotels for Viewing Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2011 Edition

Hello Kitty above the fray

It’s early November, a great time to scope out a hotel room with a view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – for next year.

Nearly a dozen midtown hotels are blessed with rooms that overlook New York’s 2011 parade of parades replete with floats, marching bands, balloons and Santa. But prime real estate – a room that plants you eye-to-eye with Snoopy, Spiderman and Kermit the Frog – gets snapped up months before the bands strike up. You can still get a room if you’re not too picky. But it will cost you. Read more

Sipping a Pink Ginger Cosmo at the Mandarin Oriental

A Cosmo? In 2011?

I’m in the Lobby Lounge on the 35th floor at the Mandarin Oriental. The city sprawls below on a gorgeous spring night. Read more

Scones, Sandwiches and Lapsang Souchong: Afternoon Teas Worth Taking at NYC Hotels

High tea and texting don’t mix. That, at least, is how I felt on a recent weekday afternoon as I sipped Lapsang Souchong and nibbled miniature sandwiches in the Gotham Lounge at The Peninsula hotel.

Afternoon tea at a hotel is something of an anachronism, a last link to a “What is the weekend?” world. It’s the anti-fast food, offering a civilized setting for a business meeting, a cozy chat or a vacation from the 21st-century for an hour or two.

Its charms depend on getting the mix of old and new just right, a balancing act that’s oddly tricky. Too much tradition and high tea feels fusty.  Not enough and it’s not High Tea. Read more