It is an unfortunate fact that the lengths a traveler goes to experience new places often leaves them exhausted and returning to their rooms in search of nothing more than the comforts of home. Fortunately there are some hotels that specialize in just these comforts.




The Bedford Hotel has a business
center; for leisure, the
Theater District is closeby.

A trip to New York City began for me at 4:30 am with a drive to Buffalo, New York from Toronto. After a short fight to John F. Kennedy airport and a bus ride into Manhattan my list of priorities was short. 1 - Find food. 2 - Get sleep. End of list.

The Hotel Bedford is located at 118 East 40th Street and is just steps from Pennsylvania Station and close to most large NYC attractions. Across to 9th Avenue and about six blocks up I found an incredible bakery called Amy's Bread. Information on these incredible bakeries can be found on the web at www.amysbread.com. I had filled up on sourdough rolls (50 cents each) and prosciuto and black olive twists (US$1 each) when the warm caress of lethargy began to set in.

The walk back to the hotel was a blur but the last step toward my bed was a well remembered leap. I woke up to realize my surroundings and was happily surprised to say the least. I had been put up in a standard suite (sweet?). Equipped with a comfortable queen size bed (sweet), en-suite washroom (sweet!) and separate living room area (candy!) the room left little to be desired. As well, there the kitchenette, Corby pants press (to keep that perfect crease), in room safes, irons, ironing boards, hairdryer, voice mail data ports, cable television, a pull out couch! Let's face it, if I'd have brought a partridge and a pear tree I could cook up a pretty decent Christmas number. Except it is summer in the city.



The Bedford Hotel, a classic European style boutique hotel, is situated on 40th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, in the heart of midtown Manhattan, where the business district meets the gentler Murray Hill Area. The Hotel's prime midtown location makes it convenient to corporate offices, famous Fifth Avenue shops, Broadway theaters, Grand Central Station, and tourist attractions, such as St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and the United Nations Building.

The Bedford hotel provides both business and leisure travelers with an excellent choice of accommodations and facilities. The 136-room, 17-floor hotel includes 58 suites and 78 rooms of distinction.

Most accommodations have fully equipped kitchenettes. Every room has cable television, air conditioning, dataport telephone, Corby trouser press, private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, iron and board. Coin operated washers and dryers are available for your convenience. Monthly rates on request.

Relax in Domenico's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge offering a fine selection of Italian and continental cuisines; 24 hour room service is available.

As this was the only full day in New York, the plan was to get up early and get as many possible sites in as I could. Once again the creature comforts of the Bedford Hotel presented themselves and I indulged. Needless to say, I gave up on the idea of getting to the top of the Empire State Building and opted to go straight to Battery Park and the ferry to Ellis Island. There is a reason New York City has such a reputation as a prime travel destination. Other cities have attractions to see and events to fill your time. New York has all of these, but what makes it stand above is what you'll see on the way to your destination. This brings me back to Battery Park. The line for the Ellis Island ferry isn't very long but during the half hour wait a group of entertainers began putting on a show. It started with a few back-flips and handstands and had the makings of a half-witted sideshow so I decided to get a snack from one of the many stands in the area. I returned to see one of the men doing a handstand on the upstretched hands of the other - not so half-witted after all. They ended with a back flip over the heads of four volunteers from the line. They also added some jokes when collectin tips from the audience - as one street performer walked up and down the stairs on his hands. Impressive.

The ferry takes about fifteen minutes from the dock to Liberty Island and then another ten or so to Ellis Island. The entrance of the gateway to the land of opportunity is quite obviously more elaborate today than it was in the 1920s and '30s when thousands of immigrants entered the country. The exhibits inside, however, do a lot more to present the realities of the conditions surrounding the post war influx and the multitude that entered the U.S. at that time. One of those individuals was my grandfather, so I spent some time at the family history computer terminal looking him up. Despite the large numbers of immigrants to choose from the information turned up rather quickly. I could have paid a few dollars to get a print out of the actual entry form with his name on it but a very helpful information desk clerk named Mike was able to inform me that this could be obtained on the internet at www.ellisisland.org. For those that want their relatives name immortalized on the memorial wall outside the main building it can be done for a larger additional fee.

I'd be lying if I said that the ferry back to Manhattan wasn't accompanied by a hint of nostalgia. Moreover, the view of the city from the water has it's own poetic existence. It is true that the city doesn't sleep, but from the deck of a slowly moving ship it can appear somewhat docile; like the slow bubbling of a volcano drifting into dormancy. It isn't until you get back to land do you again feel the hum of life that the great city has to offer

As I was already near the financial district, I decided to take a walk past the site of ground zero. It was a few years ago, before the monstrous buildings of steel, concrete, and paperwork came hurting to the ground like some dusty house of cards that I had the opportunity to stand on the observation deck of the south building of the Word Trade Center. Returning to the site I expected the wondrous confusion and sadness you might expect fro a modern day tragedy written with such a large cast of players in mind. I got more. Rather than the lifeless remnants of a 1945 Hiroshima this pace had something more. Movement. People. The past was tragedy, the present life, leaving only hope for the future. Regardless, I left on a subway train back uptown feeling somber and introspective. It wasn't until I resurfaced that those feelings subsided to those of hunger. Keeping myself going with a few in-season selections from street-side fruit stands I searched and found a Hale and Hearty Soups (a common soup house in the "Big Apple"). The turkey chili went well with some rolls left over from the previous night. I enjoyed my makeshift dinner back in my room at the Hotel Bedford watching old cartoons in my own personal living room (did I mention sweet?!).




Every room has cable television,
air conditioning, and
dataport telephone.

Full of food and still contemplating the heavier experiences of my day I was ready to pack it in. Knowing full well that I'd regret falling asleep in the early afternoon I decided to do something somewhat more uplifting. I headed out to the Guggenheim Museum. Just off Central Park the museum is home to some incredible works in it's permanent collection. As a new show was still in the process of being installed (Modern Art- From Picasso to Pollock) only two galleries were open to viewing. This didn't matter as I really just wanted to see the building itself and it turned out costing me less this way anyway. The gallery building is very open and inviting and unlike some other high-brow showing spaces it makes you feel welcome to look around despite your knowledge or appreciation of the pieces on display. In fact, I got quite a bit out of some of the paintings thanks to a young boy who was there with his mother. The boy, named Max, moved from one abstract painting to the next counting the shapes and colours that he saw. He was enjoying himself so much that despite your artistic tastes you had to enjoy the experience with him. I couldn't help wishing that I could be five years old again in order to appreciate some of the simpler elements of life an art on a regular basis without bias.

The day ended back at the hotel room for some much needed sleep. I left the Hotel Bedford the next morning feeling exactly as a hotel patron should during checkout. I was rested, relaxed and ready to move on. Yet another reason why I like New York in June. How about you?

Feature by David Lazzarino, Jetsetters Magazine Toronto Correspondent.

Read the Jetsetters Magazine feature: "Spirit Cruises of NYC Dining Cruises."