DUNCAN CRAIG finds an ideal base for exploring New York
THE Manhattan/SoHo is one of a new breed of Courtyard by Marriott hotels catering for tourists as well as the core business market.
Protruding like a giant finger from the neighbouring tenement blocks, this steel-blue tower occupies the site of a former Eighties dance club. Things are altogether more sober now, mercifully.
Inside the snug lobby, its entrance heralded by a glass and metal canopy, "guest service agents" bustle around "check-in pods" and a large wall-mounted, touch-screen monitor fizzes with news streams and weather data.
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A total of 120 rooms are spread across 19 floors. Aim high for a view: mine was on the 18th floor and from the floor-length windows I could make out a mist-shrouded Midtown skyline.
The room was ordered and comfortable if unremarkable: an ocean-sized bed with an armada of pillows, equally large flat screen and a desk for the free Wi-Fi.
All the Courtyards are privately owned buildings leased to Marriott. The owners here are a Chinese couple who have added their own touches. No room ends in the number four (bad luck in the Chinese tradition), while there are plenty of red hues throughout (good luck). The luck-giving properties of the furry skirting boards in my room was not clear.
There's no restaurant, not even a kitchen as is the Courtyard way.
Instead a Starbucks in the lobby sells packaged breakfasts such as yogurts and cereals or bagels that are made up for you on the spot. In the evening this becomes a bar with a selection of beers and wines.
Next to the business centre is a "market" (more of an alcove) where you can buy pretty much anything you like so long as it's ice cream, chocolate or fizzy drinks.
Framed photographs in the communal areas offer regular reminders of what you should be out exploring (a glinting Chrysler Building here, a moody Empire State Building there). This hotel is brilliantly placed for doing just that.
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You're 100 yards from the Subway at Houston St, which will rumble and clatter you to Times Square in 15 minutes. Downtown, for the Financial District, is even closer, and Greenwich Village is just a short walk east.
The biggest asset, though, are the tirelessly enthusiastic staff.
Courtyard New York Manhattan/ SoHo (00800 1927 1927/www.marriott.co.uk) offers doubles from £95 (two sharing), room only.