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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

The Nolitan Hotel - A Boutique Option in Manhattan

Over the years we've stayed at a lot of the mid-range boutique hotels  in New York; The Iroquois, The Algonquin, The Shoreham, The Mansfield, The Bentley, The Roger and most recently On The Avenue (now NYLO) on the Upper Westside. This is a town where the mid-range doesn't buy you  much space and increasingly you won't get change from your two hundred and fifty dollars per night, after tax.
Bedroom from the door, the open bathroom is on the right, closed loo to the left.
The Nolitan is located on a busy street leading to the Williamsburg Bridge so you can expect some traffic noise, so you'll need to book a room on a higher floor. The good news is you'll get a view of the Empire State Building, which you can see  lit up in the middle of  our hotel room window above.

Given the competition we thought The Nolitan was good value for money with well designed rooms. They're small or course, but that's the deal at this price point. In addition, it's in an excellent location close to three subway lines, north of Chinatown and close to wonderful streets like Spring, Elizabeth, Prince and all that Soho has to offer. This was my first chance to really explore this neighborhood after spending years staying further uptown. I loved the area with gorgeous small boutiques, cafes and restaurants along tree lined street. Its east of the heart of Soho which means you avoid  the generic high street shops on Broadway and the overly glossy  brand name boutiques which are ubiquitous down here. But if you need to go to Topshop or have to window shop Prada or Chanel  you'll find them  nearby. 

Our room had an open design with a glass wall between the shower and bedroom. This gave the entire place a more spacious feeling which I liked. There is a curtain for privacy if you're shy or sharing with a friend (see below) and the loo is in a separate room. 
Aesthetically I liked everything, the paraben free locally produced Red Flower bathroom products, the modern fixtures and fittings, the textures of the hardwood floor and the concrete ceiling which had a chic industrial vibe. Everything is carefully chosen and stylish. 

I was impressed that the room was stocked with magazines including TimeOut and Vogue and that the New York Times was delivered to the room every morning, which made me feel it was just like home!
Because the restaurant is under construction they are offering a modest free breakfast till 10am in the lobby. I must admit I wasn't up early enough to investigate, lets blame jet lag not laziness!  I appreciated that they offered tea and coffee till noon and that wine and cheese was offered in the evenings from 6-8pm, which seemed very generous. The  staff kindly provided me with tea several times at no additional cost, it isn't available in the rooms which may bother some of you. 

We were impressed by the staff who seemed relaxed and helpful. The room was made up promptly. The only inconsistency was that on the first night our bed was turned down with macaroons and a card detailing the weather the next day. We were charmed but  the turndown wasn't offered on any of the four subsequent nights which seemed a poor showing, particularly after I ate all the macaroons on day one and had promised faithfully to give them up on day two!


Overall I loved the location, the style and the relaxed atmosphere of The Nolitan. If the price is right this would be my first choice of the hotels we've tried in the mid range, highly recommended.


Tips: Spring for a room on a higher floor to avoid street noise. Check out the Fiat Cafe and Balaboosta nearby for brunch, reviews to follow.

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