“When people call, I tell them this isn’t a rinky dink Chinatown hotel, despite the location,” the front desk clerk proudly told me on my last visit to the Hotel Leon. “We got luxury here!” While I wouldn’t quite go that far, it’s undeniable that the Leon has more niceties than its peers, both in this neighborhood (yup, it’s Chinatown) and price range. Rooms, though beige, beige, beige in décor, are high ceilinged and roomy, with the kind of comfortable mattresses, good closets (or spacious armoires) and well-designed bathrooms, that one usually only gets in hotels a price tier up. Other extras include cushioned window seats (for curling up and gazing at the Freedom Tower or the Manhattan Bridge), luggage racks, safes and Keurig coffee machines. The Leon is an especially smart choice for families, thanks to its massive two-room suites (called “Loft Suites”), which have a pocket door that close between the two, and can easily sleep six in their three, queen-sized beds. One note: though the smell of frying grease of the Popeye’s next door permeates the lobby, it’s not a problem in the guest rooms (nor is noise, for that matter).
- Pauline Frommer