On the Ave.
Popular among student travelers and Columbia-visiting academics, this upper-Broadway hotel offers a surprising amount of comfort and style for an affordable price. The 282 streamlined rooms (many of which often go for well below $300) all have beds with suede headboards, down duvets, and 300-thread-count Egyptian-cotton linens; other high-style touches include stainless-steel sinks and complimentary Godiva coffee. The 16th-floor garden terrace with its row of Adirondack chairs is a supreme summer lounging spot (the adjacent penthouse, No. 1602, has stunning views of the Hudson River and is worth the splurge). The property will have two restaurants, a bar, and a fitness center by spring 2008.
Tip: The hotel doesn't consider views when pricing rooms, so definitely ask for one.
Room to Book: Deluxe rooms on the -24 and -30 line have extra square footage, while fourth-floor rooms come with stylish Italian black-marble bathrooms.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.