Category Archives: Lodging

Al Hirschfeld Exhibit at The Algonquin Hotel


News from the e-mail bag: If you know who caricaturist Al Hirschfeld is, or not, make it a point to visit The Algonquin Hotel in New York City this summer. From now through August 8, this grand hotel is exhibiting Hirschfeld’s black-and-white caricatures of celebrities and Broadway stars within its Lobby Lounge.



“Guys and Dolls, 1950” / © The Al Hirschfeld Foundation


Unveiled in late May, in timing with the 2017 Tony Awards, “The Algonquin Hotel Celebrates The Tonys As Seen By Hirschfeld” displays 23 of Hirschfeld’s drawings atop the lounge’s oak paneling.



 “Algonquin Round Table,” 1962 / © The Al Hirschfeld Foundation


The late Hirschfeld, who passed away in 2003, has his ties to The Algonquin. He frequently came to the hotel’s legendary Algonquin Round Table, where NYC artists, writers, and critics hung out at lunch as a group known as “The Vicious Circle.” Hirschfeld knew and worked with many of its members. Hirschfeld also sketched the circle’s famous group portrait, including member/writer Dorothy Parker, in 1962.


880124 Phantom

The Phantom of the Opera, 1988 /  © The Al Hirschfeld Foundation


Also, while seeing The Algonquin Hotel, ask about “Mathilda,” its resident cat. The Algonquin Hotel is located on West 44 Street along the Avenue of the Americas (or Sixth Avenue). It’s also near Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Call, so you can see a lot of places in one day. Better yet, get a drink from the hotel’s Lobby Bar or eat in at the Round Table Restaurant.

Tips for Your First Stay at a Hostel

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The site of my first hostel stay: Hostelling Interational-New York City

Up until last month, I had never stayed in a hostel. There’s no real reason why I didn’t; perhaps I just didn’t considered using them. Yet as I start to do more solo travel, and realize that my budget needs to better adjust to this fact, I figured it would be interesting to see what a hostel stay is like.

In brushing stereotypes and horror stories aside, hostels primarily have a good reputation as being a safe and affordable option for accommodations. They also attract more travelers from different age groups and backgrounds. Recently, for a work assignment, I spent a weekend at Hostelling International-New York City, the Manhattan location for Hostelling International, a worldwide organization.

Overall, my first experience went well, and I wanted to use it to share some first-time tips for staying in a hostel with other newbies.

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The room I stayed in at Hostelling International-New York City.


Here they are:

  • Of course, do your research. Just like with looking up hotels online, there are a number of websites on hostels complete with pictures, personal reviews and rankings (definitely pay attention to comments on amenities and cleanliness). Search engines such as, or provide lists on hostels in your destination. Hostelling International also is a good source, as their brand has hostels in just about every country and throughout the U.S. Another plus with all of these sites is that you can obtain the address of your potential hostel and be able to Google Map it to get specific directions.
  • Weigh what you’re comfortable with. Especially as a woman, I think it’s important to really make sure you’re comfortable with your choice of setup in the hostel you’re heading too — way before you go. Hostels have a number of room options, varying in cost, occupancy and availability (plus an upfront deposit can be required). There can be a private room/with bath but it will cost more than let’s say a shared room with other women. “Shared” can number out to four to a room, perhaps even more than at. In some cases, you could choose to stay in a co-ed shared room. It’s up to you. At Hostelling International-New York City, I was assigned to a room set up for four people. My bed was one of the top bunks.
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The showers at Hostelling International-New York City

  • Bring comforts and essentials. Most hostels will provide lockers or offer additional space for rent. Locks can cost extra. I brought a travel combination lock with me and my suitcase was small enough to be squeezed into my given locker. Bedding is supplied, and often towels are as well (I brought one along just in case). I would recommend bringing along flip flops, just in case, as you can wear them in the shower as well as go back and forth from your room. Earplugs are helpful to block out noises and late-night arrivals. Bring small bills, too, to cover any popup or not-covered expenses from laundry machines to a mid-afternoon coffee.
  • Get secure. As with using lockers, don’t get too casual with your stuff. Travelers often go in and out of hostels as they please, and particularly the rooms they sleep in, so it’s best not to leave your phone or other electronics and valuables lying around in the open. (I had a bottle of water I bought and put on the side of my room taken, but still, it was MINE). With building security, a hostel should have knowledgeable staff that can give you directions and might also be able to book transportation to and from the airport. When I stayed at HI-NY, my keycard doubled for both getting into my room and past the check-in area.
  • Be sociable. Hostels often have communal hangout areas like lounges and café seating areas to relax in or make small talk with other guests. At HI-NY, breakfast was included in the cost of my stay, so during my morning meal I got to chat more with one of my roommates, a Canadian, as well as two girls from England and Fiji, respectively. Check to see if the hostel organizes group outings too. HI-NY has guided excursions such as bar crawls or borough tours. I was there on Halloween night, so I signed up for a group outing to go watch the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
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A lounge at a hostel is a good place to relax or chat with fellow guests.

Staying in a hostel could feel like reliving your college dorm days. Yet, it’s a place to meet new people or even get some different tips on what’s in your destination. If you’re still going solo, your hostel is a good base to head back to, especially if you need help.

Editor’s Note: As part of my assignment, I was comped for my stay at Hostelling International-New York City.

Staying in a London GoWithOh Flat

When I talk to other people about my travels, sometimes I get the question, “Is there any place you think you would go back to?” Without a doubt, one place that automatically comes to mind is England. Particularly, I would head to London.

I went to London almost a decade ago – wow, now a decade ago – with my cousin and split about a week’s time in the city and then out to Oxford, Windsor, Stratford upon Avon and Burford. But, like many destinations, London can take up a whole week stay or even more than week to catch as many as attractions in and outside of this major city as I could.

This time around, if I could back go to see London, there are a few things I would want to do differently. One of them is to stay in a place other than a hotel.

Through fellow travelers, I have heard about GoWithOh, an apartment rental service with more than 2,000 accommodations in 17 major European cities. Locations include Rome, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, Florence, Madrid, Vienna, and Prague. And London, of course. Recent additions to this list are Pisa, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Nice, and Milan.

Browsing through GoWithOh’s listings in London, I came across this lovely two-bedroom apartment — or perhaps I say flat — in Waterloo. Based in Central London, located on the Sound Bank, this flat is described as being just a 10-minute walk from Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. As I like to walk, this option is great!

GWo1Also, if I was to stay here, I would want to take my younger sister with me because I think she would like London as much as I did. In addition to its location, another reason for going with this two bedroom flat was that after a long day of exploring London, we would probably like some alone time. And being able to unwind and get good night’s sleep after a fun and long day out will help keep our time together balanced.


In addition to two bedrooms, the layout for this flat is pretty cool. The living room appears to be spacious, and the open-plan kitchen has everything we would need for storing groceries or takeaways (British speak for takeout) and handling a laundry emergency. There is also a good-sized dinner table and a full-bath, which will help my sis and I feel like we are at home. Free Wi-Fi is also a bonus, since we would otherwise have to find, and most likely pay for it, in public places.


Regularly GoWithOh holds a guest tester competition that invites travel writers, bloggers and vloggers (video bloggers) to submit entries for a chance at staying in a GoWithOh apartment of their choosing. So, this post is my submission. Let me stop here before I get further carried away over this dream flat. I definitely would want to give GoWithOh a try. As a GoWithOh guest tester, or even as a paying guest. Sister included.