Whenever we go to New York City (last year, I took my then three- and one-year-olds during spring break), we always choose to stay in a house or apartment. New York hotels are notoriously small and anyone with kids can attest to the inconveniences of hotel stays with small children: having to sit perfectly still in the dark for the rest of the night once the kids finally go down; shushing them so that they don’t wake other guests through paper thin walls; and having to pay a king’s ransom for a measly bowl of room service oatmeal. But even beyond the annoyances, I really love bunking down in a new neighborhood and living like a local. It’s precisely the daily rituals of a regular coffee shop and playground that ground our family–and make me feel more seasoned traveler than ringmaster of a traveling circus. And the best part? Not only do you get more space, but you pay less for it. Here are a few places I keep tucked away for my next trip.
The owners, who live upstairs with their two kids, rent out the ground-level floor of their charming three-flat in this hip Brooklyn neighbhorhood. Outfitted in vintage furniture, mismatched china, wrought-iron beds, and cheery, patterned duvets, the space has a comfortable, lived-in vibe, and it’s only a half block from the L line. The entry, which is painted the prettiest shade of robin’s egg blue covered in paintings, is filled with kid gear–a signal that I don’t need to feel guilty about parking my double stroller there. In addition to the combined kitchen-dining area and two bedrooms (one that also doubles as a living area), we had access to a magical outdoor patio and backyard, which could pass for a Waldorf playground with its twisted vines, trellises and garden fairies. Verbatim from their listing, “We LOVE kids!” Pack-and-play included.
These are owned by a Brooklyn couple with two kids and are situated in a super family-friendly Brooklyn neighborhood. We were right at home as we watched kids slolom down sidewalks on scooters and neighborhood families gather at walking-distance haunts like Cafe Pedlar for Stumptown coffee and pastries. This kid-ready, rehabbed rowhouse was booked the weekend we needed it, so we stayed in their other rental in the same neighborhood—a cheery one-bedroom on the bottom floor of an adorable old brownstone. Walk in and there’s a big chalkboard that reads “Welcome to Brooklyn,” which was written by the helpful and attentive owner Lee Skaife. There’s an extra twin in the master (perfect for our toddler, who hates to sleep alone in a new place), and a pair of twin beds in a makeshift bedroom off the living room.
Walk in and there’s a big chalkboard that reads “Welcome to Brooklyn”
I haven’t stayed at the Sofia Inn yet, but it’s bookmarked for my next visit. Outfitted with details like woodblock Indian linens, star-shaped paper lanterns and vintage science posters, these are hands-down the cutest rooms I’ve ever seen at a b&b. Bonus: A few of them even have kitchens. It’s a couple blocks away from Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and the Brooklyn Museum.
It seems like this place is always booked (for good reason), but if you plan far enough in advance, this sprawling, light-filled penthouse loft looks like the most magical playground for kids (tricycle included). There’s a sweet bedroom room with two little toddler beds, a nursery and a pennant-strewn mezzanine play area.
Meghan McEwan is the founder of the brilliant travel site Designtripper.