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Trip Report Quickie Mom/Daughter trip with excellent hotel

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As I planned our 3.5 day trip that took place last week, it was thanks to Fodors' posts that I Iooked into the Affinia hotels. When I did, I realized that quite a few years ago spouse and I had stayed at the Dumont and lucked into one of those fabulous Chrysler Building view rooms. So as a needed splurge for my daughter and myself, I booked a cityview one-bedroomo suite. Because I had some flexibility with dates, booking a Sunday/Monday stay was $140 less than if I'd booked a Mon/Tues stay (we paid $711 for the two nites). Can't say enough about the spaciousness or quality of the room. Huge. 14 steps from the bedroom to the fully equipped kitchen! Large marble bathroom. And that view - from the 35th floor! Given that just about any quality midtown lodging looked like it was going to be in the neighborhood of 300/nite, I thought this was a terrific value.

(Be aware - there are two exposures, at least, for the city-view rooms. Northbound is the C. Building; the southbound view is much less inspiring. There was an initial glitch on our arrival when we were given a King-bed, one bedroom suite (with the 'enh' view). Fortunately, I'd brought along my printed out reservation that showed my request for a two-bed suite. Front desk was good about rectifying and then we had the great view. But I did have the sense that w/o my printed confirmation, they might not have been so accommodating...)

Other comments: It's been a long, long time, but all my prior Staten Island ferry experiences were positive. Don't know whether it is because neither the S of L or Ellis Island sites are operational, or what - but the ferry was a cattle-call nightmare. Standing in line for 20-25 minutes with hundreds of other tourists was not the best way to spend our first morning in New York. As my photographer daughter commented, she could have gotten the same S of L pics from a few postcards - without an hour and a half of being tourist-crushed.

Food: We were going to try the Parker-Meridien Hotel Burger Joint - but it's very aptly named. Tiny. Order at the counter. Only a few tables, booths. And HOT! After a trudge from Lex/34 to the P-M at 56/6th, it was not what we were in the mood for. So we cabbed it back to the Shelburne (also Affinia property at Lex/37) where we had noticed the menu for Rare.

Now THIS was a find! Moderately priced menu (burgers start at $9.50). Daughter had the burger with brie/bacon; mine was some whiskey-marinated version (not noticeable in flavor and I would not repeat for the $3-4 upcharge). Both were excellent; well-prepared. The $10 appetizer basket of fries was m-m-m-m. Service was very good. Highly recommended.

We noticed an appealing looking Mexican restaurant (also with entree prices in the $14-19 range) that we didn't get to try, but would have liked to. I think this was at the corner of 37th/Third (just down the street from the Shelburne).

We also dined at Rare's other location (in the Fashion District Hilton) as well. Daughter repeated her brie-burger and I had the ribs ($21) - again, excellent.

Serendipity happens: We headed out one evening with the thought of going to either Joe Allen's (so many good Fodors reviews/comments) or B. Smith (in the same block). Perhaps because it was a Monday evening (?), both were absolutely dead. A lively little spot across the street caught daughter's eye. Good that it did. The Bistecca Fiorentina Italian steakhouse (www.BisteccaFiorentinaNYC.com) is one of those old-time NY restaurants - small, what appeared to be a neighborhood clientele, good service from white-aproned waiters. And excellent food! Huge steaks were coming out of the kitchen still sizzling, but we went the pasta route: lasagna (daughter) and paparadelle with lobster (me). Both very good and the lobster -- huge chunks, including a couple whole (shelled) claws. I'd go back in a New York minute!

I've long wanted to visit the Campbell Apartment (lounge in Grand Central). Perhaps rush-hour is the very wrong time to do it. No ambience unless crowded and noisy is your preference. We didn't stay.

Daughter has a specialty baking business, so we tried the "Baked by Melissa" mini-cupcakes (buck a pop for a thumbnail-size bite) and cheesecake from Junior's. The cupcakes were a thumbs-down (the mint chocolate truly tasted like mouthwash - and two zealous sweets-eaters actually threw everything out after sample tastes); Junior's was a thumbs-up (we all but licked the plate).

Those are the highlights (lowlights) I wanted to share. Always appreciate this F community and recommendations; hope someone finds this info useful.

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