Two Great NYC Hotels, Part Two

This is my follow-up post to my two pre-trip write-ups about the Library Hotel and the Hotel Giraffe.  Now that we’ve experienced both hotels I can report back and say that these are two of the nicest New York hotels I’ve stayed in.  I’m very impressed, and I think you will be too.

First, some pics of the Library Hotel (299 Madison at 41st Street). These are of the 14th floor bar and terrace:

Now a few of the Hotel Giraffe (365 Park Ave. South at 26th Street):

Our room at the Giraffe had a comfy living room and a lovely terrace looking north, south, and west. And our themed room at the Library was perfect for a family visit; our room was Fairy Tales, with books and art work reflecting the theme beautifully.  As you can see from the first pics above, we loved the sitting areas on the Library’s 14th floor, replete with warm fire and plush leather couches and chairs.  We particularly enjoyed the first-rate lattes and cappucinos in the morning and afternoon, the wine and cheese platters, and the fruit and cookie selections at both hotels.  These folks know how to cater to you.  The service throughout our stay was perfect:  efficient and warm!

If business or pleasure brings you to Manhattan soon, consider either of these wonderful NYC hotels, both part of the Library Hotel Collection.  I think you’ll be happy with your visit.


Hotel Giraffe in NYC

Just a week until we hit the Big Apple for a few days of Thanksgiving fun at two of the Library Collection’s wonderful hotels:  the Library Hotel and then the Hotel Giraffe, which I’m featuring in today’s post.

The hotel is located at 26th Street and Park Avenue South, in the now trendy neighborhood called NoMad (north and west of Madison Square Park). It’s only three blocks from the Flatiron Building, if that helps orient you.  There are 72 rooms spread out over 10 floors, and the Giraffe is smoke-free.

There is complimentary daily breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea and snacks, complimentary wine and cheese evening receptions — and my compliments to the hotel for a lot of quality complimentary offerings!  Each room has 10-foot ceilings, comfy furnishings and linens, photos from the Roaring ’20s and (not-so-roaring) ’30s, 40″ flat-panel TVs, and plenty of work-friendly amenities (wi-fi, etc) if you need that.  But did you really come here to work?  Really?

If you’re tired from shopping and sightseeing all day and don’t want to go out to eat, there’s no need.  The hotel’s restaurant, Bread and Tulips, is a relaxing kind of place with rustic Italian cuisine and friendly service.  Michelin Guide recommends it, so there you go!

I’ll have more to say after we’ve stayed here, but in the meantime please check out the hotel’s website for yourself, especially their best rate guarantee.  Not too many luxury hotels will do this for you, so color me impressed.

Agriturismo in Italy

Agriturismo Vacations
A Guest Post by Douglas E Morris, author of Open Road’s Best of Italy

Though they have been a part of many aficionado’s Italian travel experience for over a decade now, for many people the concept of an agriturismo vacation is still a mystery. If you want an authentic introduction to rural Italian life, featuring locally grown and prepared food and serene, scenic surroundings, read on.

Agriturismo is a combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian, and is basically a creative take on farm stays, Italian style. Agriturismi (the plural form of agriturismo) are set on farms, vineyards, and other rural settings, and you will almost always get delicious local Italian meals prepared from food produced on the farm where you are staying or nearby.

The agriturismo program began because beginning in the1950s, small-scale farming in Italy became less profitable, and farmers began abandoning their land in search of work in larger towns. This was not only devastating to agricultural output in Italy, but began to have a dramatically negative impact on the small town economies that were dependent on local farming. Rural Italy was experiencing a serious crisis.

Not just an economic crisis, but also a crisis of identity, a crisis for the survival of what Italians perceive as the purity of their rural traditions. Italians almost universally treasure the local customs associated with rural life; so with the decline of small-scale agriculture, the Italian government knew something needed to be done. Not just to preserve the beauty, charm and quality of life in the countryside, but to help preserve the very soul of the country.

So using their collective creativity, something Italians are universally known for, in 1985 a law was passed that allowed farmers and rural estate owners to receive tax breaks if they converted buildings on their property to vacation rentals. In conjunction with the lucrative tax breaks, the agriturismo law most importantly allowed small farmers to dramatically augment their agricultural income.

With this one law, rural Italy was saved. In fact, the program was such a success, that similar programs have been implemented in France, the United States, Belgium and many other countries around the world.

Despite the rural nature of the lodgings, one might expect agriturismi to be rustic; yet many feature luxurious accommodations including swimming pools, saunas, and the like. In general, what you will receive is the equivalent of 3-star accommodation for about one-third the price you would pay in a large Italian city. The rooms are generally commodious, the food exceptional, the vistas inspiring, and the pace of life incredibly relaxing. In other words, the perfect place for a vacation.

In many cases two meals a day are served for residents — breakfast and dinner — but lunch of local cheese, breads, meats, fruits, pasta, vegetables, wine and more can easily be added to the menu. For many cognoscenti, staying at agriturismi is all about the food and the wine. Fresh local seasonal produce, with home-made pasta, all prepared in the local traditional way and served with unique local vintages bursting with flavor. Many agriturismi also offer guests cooking classes, horseback riding, guided tours of the area, or wine tastings. Of course, if you’re on vacation to relax, you can also choose none of the above and just chill out on the terrace or by the pool with a good book.

However, if you’re staying at an agriturismo, renting a car will be necessary. Though it’s not impossible to have the agriturismo experience without a rental car, if you want the freedom to explore the surrounding area, you will need motorized transport. But if that is the only drawback to staying at an agriturismo, that should not be much of a hindrance.

So if you are looking for something new and different for your next trip to Italy, think of staying at an agriturismo. Two excellent websites that list a plethora of places to try are and

Back Online After Hurricane Sandy

I’m finally back online after the tristate area was struck by Hurricane Sandy.  We got power back last night, and thankfully none of the swaying trees bending towards our house (in normal weather!) threatening to wreak havoc … wreaked not.  We were very fortunate, and only had to suffer through no power and a cold house.  On the plus side, my daughter learned a few new card games and we all got plenty of sleep, like our forefathers of old:  when it got dark, we ate dinner by candlelight and then quickly went to bed.

So that explains the light blogging (ok, no blogging) of the past week.  I will put up a new post shortly about the second hotel we’re going to preview in the Library Hotel collection in NYC — the Hotel Giraffe — but first one of our authors has a series of posts he’s done for us on Italy.  I’ll put one of those up later or tomorrow, then on to the Giraffe!