Split-flap displaysalso known as "Solari boards"were once a hallmark of American railway stations: as passenger trains move in and out, the flaps spin with new city names and times, and the displayed capital letters and numbers flip fast like a deck of cards through an automatic shuffler. This same old-fashioned display hangs in the lobby of Z NYC Hotel, but instead of departure and arrival times, the board features welcome messages in multiple languages and rests above stacks of vintage steamer trunks. It's all a nod to the old days of Grand Central Station in nearby midtown Manhattan, and much of the chic boutique hotel's decor exudes the vibe of a charming 1920s-style building but with modern accents.
During nighttime, the Long Island City hotel itself acts like a city in miniature: live jazzy piano emanates from the downstairs lounge kiosk, its area lined with black leather booths. And at the 5,000-square-foot rooftop bar, Z Roof, bartenders sling tropical cocktails amid 360-degree views of the East River and Queensboro Bridge. Come morning, guests can amble into the 24-hour onsite diner, where chefs bake fresh bagels and baguettes. The hotel also offers complimentary transportation to and from midtown Manhattan throughout the day, putting guests within arms reach of Times Square, Central Park, and retail shops on 5th Avenue.
In the superior queen rooms, a wall of windows stretches 10 feet from floor to ceilinga vast portal to watch the lights flicker on and off in Manhattans skyscrapers and streetscapes. Murals of iconic New York entertainers such as the Rockettes electrify the stark black-and-white walls of the room, and above the cushioned headboard are lamps fashioned from mason jars. For a romantic nightcap, guests can crack open a bottle of wine or champagne and queue up their own playlists of crickets chirping to the tune of Al Jarreau songs on the rooms iPod docking station.
Along New Yorks East River, Long Island City rests in the borough of Queens. Just across Queensboro bridge lies midtown Manhattans famous landmarks: Times Square and Grand Central Station buzz with activity, and the Theater District is the home of iconic Radio City Music Hall. But Long Island City has a fetching character of its own. There's a thriving artists' community here, which emerges in the form of contemporary-art museums, graffiti galleries, and sculpture parks scattered along the coast. International bistros, pizzerias, and bakeries serve up homemade fare that reflects Long Island Citys ethnic diversity and appeases the finicky appetite of escaped King Kongs.
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