In a city where $300 and $400 hotel rates are the norm, hotel freebies are a rare find. Sure, the view of Central Park may be nice, or maybe the breakfast is extra delicious, but at the end of the day, New York is just an expensive place to stay. But you might be surprised to learn there are a few properties around the Big Apple where cool things – like walking tours, loanable tech gear, and cooking classes – are offered to guests at no extra charge. Here are a few of our favorite (free) things...
1. Walking Tours
If you can get past the tiny (on purpose, of course) rooms at Pod 39 and Pod 51, a special bonus awaits those who are ready to explore the city. Guests from either hotel can sign up for a free walking tour (normally a $75 value) with Streetwise, a local tour company run by in-the-know locals. Simply show up at Pod 51 before 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, and choose from tours that cover areas such as Chinatown or the Meatpacking District.
2. Gadgets on Loan
As 21st century travelers, our gadgets are never beyond our reach. But what if you find yourself (the horror!) separated from your trusty laptop charger, camera, or iPad? Over in midtown, the Eventi Hotel's solution is simple. Their "Business Bar" offers practically a buffet of tech goodies to any guest who needs them. iPads, MacBook Pros, wireless printers, Kindles, Nooks, digital cameras, and phone chargers are all available to guests to borrow during their stay.
3. World-Class Art
Previously, we told you how to extract some free NYC advice from The Quin's highly exclusive Cultural Attaches, but there's another, more tangible benefit to staying at the luxe 57th Street hotel: free art. The hotel's collection, which includes a 15-foot video installation in the lobby (try to walk by without staring, we dare you), and one-of-a-kind paintings by Blek le Rat, Lana Gomez, and Robert Christian Malmberg, is museum-quality.
4. Cooking Demos
Walk through the lobby at Westin New York Grand Central to get to The LCL, a restaurant that morphs throughout the day from chic cafe to buzzing cocktail bar. The kitchen's classic offerings include the "ultimate organic oatmeal," deviled organic eggs, and roasted chicken with seasonal veggies. Guests can learn from the chefs themselves how to prepare the hotel's most popular dishes at home, with free regular cooking demonstrations.
Are you a fan of free wine? Who isn't? Though New York is brimming with bars, this delicious perk is thankfully available at several properties throughout the city: first and foremost during Kimpton's famous wine hour, held every evening from 5-6 p.m. in the lobbies at The Muse Hotel, 70 Park Avenue, Ink48, and the Eventi Hotel. The same courtesy is extended to guests at Affinia Manhattan and Affinia 50, where each evening guests can sample bottles from independent winemakers in a happy hour that's curated by NakedWines.com.