Today we return to Houston. It's been a pretty spectacular holiday -- relatively low-key, spent reconnecting with friends and family, and enjoying some of the best weather we've experienced in some time (although, given the 98-100 degree weather that's been plaguing Houston over the last 6 weeks or so, we were pretty much going to be happy with any weather). We've had a great time, but to be honest, I'm really looking forward to settling back into my normal routine ... and sleep in my own bed.
Speaking of beds, several of you have asked how we managed to find the apartment where we spent our time in Manhattan. First of all, a little on our traveling philosophy: before we were parents, Marcus and I were generally fans of the "boutique hotel." Neither of us are particularly Large Resort-Type People -- give us a small family-run little hotel any day.
Since Alex came into our lives, however, we've learned to love apartments for family vacations. Trust me on this, kitchens become invaluable when you're having to cater to the picky palate of a child, or need to keep snacks on-hand for unscheduled munchies. So these days, when possible, we try to rent an apartment for holidays when we can. Sure, it means that occasionally we have to do the dishes, but the convenience of having a little home-away-from-home where we can have familiar breakfasts and snacks, often outweighs the minor annoyance of a dirty dish.
So for this trip, particularly knowing how expensive New York City hotels can be, I was adamant about renting an apartment, but didn't know where to begin. Someone recommended that I look up VRBO.com, a site that allows apartment owners to list their vacation flats available for short-term rentals. I did, and came across this listing for a studio apartment in the East Village of Manhattan.
I seriously can't say enough about this place. The owners, Christina and Isaac, actually own the entire building, and offer the studio you see there (where we stayed), and two other 2-bedroom flats. Christina and Isaac (and their young daughter) are friendly and charming, and made us feel at home even before we ever landed in New York. The apartments are spotless, well-appointed and close to everything. The street where the building is located is relatively quiet (which is sometimes downright impossible to find elsewhere in New York). Five-to-ten minutes' walk away is Union Square, with some of the best grocery stores, shops and restaurants in the city (and a major subway station, to boot). Even the beds were comfortable. And the best part? Their nightly rates are highly competitive with NYC hotel rates, but you get the added perk of feeling like a local.
I know some of you are planning your own New York City holidays, so I'll strongly urge you to consider Christina & Isaac's place. They met all our high expectations, and then some.
With that, here's one last look at Washington Square Park, about a 10-minute walk away from the studio. "See" you back in Houston.
Song: It had to be you, as performed by Harry Connick, Jr. (from the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack)