You’re paying for location at the Empire, but frankly, that location is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, the hotel is right opposite Lincoln Center, but that puts it on one of the busiest strips in Manhattan, so the symphony you’re likely to hear—all night—is that of car horns. Rooms vary greatly: Some have a feeling of real luxury, with Rothko-like paintings on the walls, handsome leather and dark-wood furnishings, and cushy beds. Others are overdue for an update and feature rusted shower fixtures and chipped furnishings. Still, this is that rare NYC hotel to have a rooftop pool (it’s small, but usable) and a fun sun-tanning deck with cabanas. Plus the staff is unusually helpful and friendly, meaning you could potentially switch to a better room at no extra cost if you get a lemon.