A cozy nest with luxury touches just steps from downtown activity.
Hallelujah for The GEM. Once the location of a somewhat seedy HoJo's, 135 E. Houston is now a friendly and comfortable home base for visitors looking to take on NYC's downtown neighborhoods. On the border between SoHo, the East Village and The Bowery, and with Chinatown and so much more of downtown in easy walking distance, this centrally located spot offers travelers a place to rest their weary legs. The lobby is far from remarkable --- it's a wee thing --- but the staffers we encountered are so incredibly nice that the place felt much more stylish. And the in-lobby board where guests can offer up suggestions for places to go and things to do is a fun touch. The real gems of the GEM, though, are the rooms. They're far from huge, but they're very pretty, with dark woods, bright white sheets and just enough color to keep things interesting. Unexpected-at-this-price-range touches include flat-screen LCD TVs, iPod docking stations, really good beds and pillows, decent bath products and nice robes. Want to write home about it? The Wi-Fi is complimentary. There's no in-house restaurant so if you're a late-night snacker, pick up some knishes from nearby Yonah Schimmel.