By Terry Trucco
New York isn’t Amsterdam. But since 1993, the addition of 100 miles of greenway paths has changed life for bike lovers. We wouldn’t recommend plowing into midtown traffic unless you’re Tour de France fit – or a bike messenger. But the city’s growing network of bike lanes offers savvy riders a fun, pollution-free way to get from Point A to Point B and take in the sights that whirl by.
These five properties (plus bonus mentions) lead the growing band of hotels that house bikes to lend or rent to guests. (Condolences to the Hotel Gansevoort Meatpacking District, whose fleet of Puma bikes was stolen and, as of this writing, has not been replaced).
Ink48, 653 11th Avenue at 48th Street, 212 757-008
Ink48 is so bike friendly they advertise, parking their shiny new Trek bikes in front of the building in good weather. Guests who want to ride are supplied with helmets, pouches, locks and water bottles. Best of all is the hotel’s location one block from the West Side bike trail that hugs the Hudson River. The hotel supplies maps and itineraries and starting in August, will offer monthly bike tours of Manhattan led by hotel employees. “People use the bikes a lot on weekends, especially families,” says Victor Muoghalu, front office director. (The fleet includes a kid’s bike.) Bike use is first come, first serve and free of charge. If no bikes are available, guests get a 10 percent discount on rentals at Bike and Roll on 12th Avenue and West 44th Street, not far from the hotel.
The James, 27 Grand Street at Sixth Avenue, 212 465-2000
The James offers bike lovers two big perks. First is location – the hotel, situated at SoHo’s southern tip, is a short spin from the West Side bike trail and downtown Manhattan’s bike paths. The other perk? Guests pedal Public bikes, the cool, colorful two-wheelers tailored for city riding. Designed by Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, the bikes are as stylish as the James and almost the same age – Public and the James opened for business in 2010, Public in July and the James in September. Bike use is free of charge.
The Maritime, 363 West 16th Street and 10th Avenue, 212-242-4300
This was one of the first hotels in town to lend bikes to guests, and no wonder: the Maritime stands one block east of the fabled West Side bike lane running from Battery Park at Manhattan’s southern tip to the George Washington Bridge. The hotel stocks silver Schwinn Beach Cruisers along with helmets and maps. Available first come, first serve, there’s no rental fee though a $6 staff gratuity is added to the bill.
The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, 212 759-3000
With Central Park across the street, small surprise the Plaza stocks bikes – BMW Cruise Bikes, to be precise, as befits a luxury hotel. Earlier this month the hotel opened Eloise’s Tricycle Garage at the Plaza Boutique, which rents children’s bikes, scooters and Radio Flyer tricycles in pink and red. The garage is an updated version of the hotel’s original Tricycle Garage, which opened in 1956 with an appearance by actress Jayne Mansfield and her daughter, Jayne Marie. Kid-bike/trike/scooter rentals start at $20 for two hours and go up to $40 per day and are available to the public as well as guests. BMWs (bikes, that is) are loaned free of charge to guests in the Plaza’s President’s Club (membership is free).
Element New York Times Square, 311 West 39th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, 212 643-0770
In keeping with their green-is-good mantra, the Element chain loans bikes to guests, and Element New York Times Square is no exception. Personally, I wouldn’t want to navigate Times Square’s western reaches, where the hotel stands, on a bike. But once you get further west, the West Side bike lane beckons. Since January, the hotel has stocked Italian-made folding bikes by Bigfish. “It’s a great urban bike that’s not too big to lug around,” says Peter McNamee, Element general manager and folding bike owner. Guests can pedal a bike free of charge on a first-come basis. Helmets and locks are included.
The Standard 848 Washington Street, 212 645 4646
Steps away from the West Side bike path, the Standard rolls out a sleek bike with a long name – the PK Ripper Fixed Gear Standard Bike from SE Bikes. The sleekness comes from the fixed gear; no hand brakes, in other words; there’s a back brake so you won’t careen into the base of the High Line. The matte black body is accented in yellow – same hue as the Standard’s revolving door. The Standard shop stocked a handful of PK Rippers last year, but they’re long gone. The best way to ride one is to check in (they’re loaned to guests without charge).
The Nolitan, 30 Kenmare at Elizabeth Street, 212 925-2555
The Nolitan loans bicycles, available in male and female styles, to guests free of charge. But this brand new hotel in SoHo’s eastern reaches goes a step further and also lends out skateboards. Nearby Coleman Playground at Cherry, Market Monroe and Pike streets is one of the few Manhattan greens with a skate park, though the skate area is run down and in need of repairs, according to recent reports.
Summer Bonus The Paramount doesn’t stock bikes, but this summer the Times Square hotel offers a Summer in the City bike package, available through September 1. Included are use of two bikes (with helmets), a bike route map, a picnic knapsack stocked with ½ bottle of wine, snacks, drinks, a blanket and a Frisbee, two New York Water Taxi tickets, a list of outdoor movies and activities and, of course, a room. Bikes can be picked up at a Bike and Roll at 12th Avenue and West 44th Street, several blocks west of the hotel. Prices start at $299 a night.