102 West 118th Street, New York, United States
Doubles from: $127 to $163
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Reviewed by EuroCheapo.com Editors
Located on a quiet Harlem side street in a gorgeous brownstone, the 102 Brownstone boutique hotel is a homey Uptown nest for those travelers looking to feel a little like locals.
Pros: Well-appointed rooms. Welcoming, helpful owner. Good value. Private and quiet.
Cons: Cash only. No elevator.
The 102 Brownstone used to be an apartment building, and its six units still feel like little studios. Furnishings are antiquey, plush and overwrought in places. Think overstuffed lounge chairs, big antique reproduction clocks and dark wood. Throughout, a few style imprints do battle. There’s a hint of stuffy New Orleans drawing room here, and a vigorous nod to Asian style (red carpets, silk pillows, fans affixed to bathroom walls) there. Modernist style fans, take note.
All rooms have air conditioning, a cable TV with DVD player, microwave, mini-fridge and coffee machine. Two rooms offer a full kitchen.
Some of the private bathrooms are a bit tight. Other bathrooms—in the studio apartments—have Jacuzzi tubs. All bathrooms are equipped with a hair dryer.
The 102 Brownstone is a simple, friendly and sweet spot. As a former apartment building in a residential neighborhood, it has a real “New York living” feel to it—there are no common spaces, but rooms offer services like a fridge and microwave, and many offer a breakfast table or sofa, to boot.
We also like the homey, if frilly, décor. The hotel might just be perfect for your fussy aunt, especially if she spends a lot of time online and doesn’t mind stairs. (Wi-Fi access is free, but there is no elevator.)
The guesthouse is set on a block of pretty brownstones in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of West Harlem. The area is residential, but there are plenty of restaurants, supermarkets and pharmacies nearby. Although removed from the traditional tourist attractions, the 102 Brownstone is just four stops from Times Square on the express 2 or 3 train.
Eight blocks south of the 102 Brownstone is Central Park’s less explored northern end, and due west rise Columbia University, one of the nation’s top institutions of higher learning, and the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Historically notorious as a dangerous place, Harlem has become much safer and offers a wealth of sights in its own right. The famous Apollo Theater—where many talented musicians, including Michael Jackson, James Brown and Stevie Wonder were “discovered”—is just a short walk from the hotel, as are the Natiional Jazz Museum in Harlem and the cool art hub, Studio Museum in Harlem.
All this said, Harlem can still be rather gritty in places, so it’s advisable to remain alert.
Guest reviews in brief
Small as it is, the 102 Brownstone does not receive many guest reviews, but those that it does are overwhelmingly positive. Guests love living like locals, and rooms get great marks for being clean, comfortable, charming and quiet. Many guests also praise the hospitable proprietor, Lizette, as well as the freedom and privacy the property affords.
Guests praise the location as well, noting that it’s easy to get around using the express 2/3 trains. And although Harlem carries the outdated connotation of danger, travelers feel completely secure in this area of West Harlem–even at night. (East Harlem, however, is a different story and should be avoided.)
It is advised to book in advance and reconfirm the reservation and expected time of arrival closer to the date. A couple guests also mention that the hotel accepts cash only.
Subways: The 116th Street Station is just two blocks south of the 102 Brownstone. The 2/3 express lines stop here, and can get you to Times Square in less than 20 minutes.
JFK: Reaching the 102 Brownstone from JFK is not difficult but requires several transfers (Air Train to Howard Beach Station; A express train to 59th Street-Columbus Circle; 1 local to 72nd Street; 2/3 to 116th Street). It may be easier to take the Super Shuttle from the airport to the hotel.
LaGuardia: The public M60 bus stops outside the airport terminals on its way into Manhattan, where it travels west across 125th Street. Get off at Lenox (6th) Avenue and 125th Street, and walk seven blocks south to 118th Street. Or take a taxi from the airport. (Note that you may have a hard time finding a cab from the hotel, as yellow taxis are not that common in Harlem.)
Newark: At the NJ Transit station (the Air Train runs here from the airport), catch any NJ Transit train into New York Penn Station. From here take an uptown A or C train to 59th Street-Columbus Circle, then transfer upstairs to the 1 uptown train. At 72nd Street, cross the platform and take an uptown 2 or 3 train to 116 Street. The hotel is two blocks north of the station.
Read more about airport transportation in New York.
Note: This hotel was visited by a EuroCheapo editor and is recommended based on cleanliness, location, price and overall quality. EuroCheapo did not charge this hotel to be listed.
- Wi-Fi: Free
- Air conditioning
- Bathroom: Private
- Bathtubs Available
- Cable TV
About the 102 Brownstone neighborhood
Located west of Central Park, the Upper West Side is a largely residential area, filled with tall apartment buildings, stately brownstones, and families. The area is home to Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History, and Columbia University. One of its greatest attributes may be its borders: you're never more than a few blocks away from either Central Park or leisurely Riverside Park. Famous Harlem, whose importance as a historically African-American neighborhood cannot be matched, begins north of Morningside Heights. Despite its dangerous reputation, Harlem has become much safer... and much more popular with tourists.