By Terry Trucco
Where do you want to be when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marches into town on November 27?
The constellation of hotels with rooms overlooking the festivities changed dramatically in 2012 when the route switched from Seventh to Sixth Avenue. Though the room count shrunk, it’s inched up in the last two years thanks to the addition in 2013 of two new hotels ideally positioned for marching-band-and-balloon-watching.
It helps, too, that the biggest hotel in town — the 1,980-room New York Hilton Midtown — is positioned above the current route.
If you haven’t booked a parade room, get cracking. Inventory has already dropped, but prices won’t. November, in fact, is the ideal time to book — for next year.
Most hotels take names of interested guests year round and finalize reservations in the summer when prices are firmed up.
Don’t be tempted to book a parade room online. Most hotels, in fact, won’t let you. Parade rooms are expensive, and not all views are perfect. Just because a hotel faces the route, after all, doesn’t mean you’ll see Sponge Bob from every room. ‘We want to talk with all prospective guests so we can provide the best room for their needs,” says Jonathan Stas, marketing manager at the Hilton.
And keep in mind: the parade is meant to be seen from the street; rooms on lower floors are preferable to — and pricier than — those on high, at least for one day of the year.
Here’s what’s on offer along the route.
Central Park West
Trump International New York Hotel & Tower This is the first hotel the parade passes as it wends its way to Macy’s. Rooms facing Central Park West offer spectacular views provided you’re on a low floor. Parade view rooms require a three-night minimum. Those booking a room without a view can gain access to the private viewing area in front of the hotel. City view rooms require a two-night minimum. One Central Park West at 60th Street, 212 299-1000
Central Park South
JW Marriott Essex House This stylish Art Deco hotel is twice blessed when it comes to the parade. Not only do rooms gaze down upon the big event as it marches along Central Park South, its South Park restaurant offers views from the ground floor. Rooms and suites with a view come with a bottle of champagne. Guests with view-less rooms can reserve a view in the restaurant. 160 Central Park South between Sixth and Seventh avenues; 212 247-0300
Sixth Avenue aka Avenue of the Americas
Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park For 364 days of the year the Ritz-Carlton’s cushy rooms facing Central Park on a high floor are most coveted. But on parade day the low floor rooms facing Sixth Avenue top the charts. The parade turns from Central Park South onto Sixth Avenue at the hotel, so guests get multiple takes on the action. 50 Central Park at Sixth Avenue; 212 308-9100
The Quin This small luxury hotel opened in 2013 just in time for Thanksgiving. Parade rooms were readily available last year, but brandishing its status as one of Travel & Leisure’s 2014 best new hotels list rooms are pricier. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Experience starts at $1,249 a night for a room with a view, minimum stay three nights. The package includes access for two to the balloon-inflating event on Thanksgiving Eve and a continental breakfast reception on parade day in the lobby (the hotel’s Wayfayer Restaurant, perched directly above the festivities, is closed for a private party). Non-package rooms are also available. 101 West 57th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 212 245-7846
Warwick New York Views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were probably the last thing William Randolph Hearst thought about in 1926 when he commissioned this 36-story brick tower as an apartment hotel for his honey, the starlet Marion Davies. But besides offering rooms that overlook the parade, the Warwick has partnered with TaskRabbit to reserve prime watching spots on the sidewalk along the hotel for guests who book the VIP Thanksgiving Package. Included are daily breakfast for two, a room and your own personal Tasker, who will secure your spot on the ground four hours before parade time, allowing you to languish in your room until 15 minutes before showtime. Three night minimum. Rates begin at $500. 65 54th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 212 247-2700.
New York Hilton Midtown As befits the largest hotel on the parade route, the New York Hilton Midtown offers a staggering array of viewing options — eight in all, from premium corner views on a low floor so you can see the parade arrive and meander along Sixth Avenue (from $1,329 a night, five night minimum) to less pricey partial views on higher floors as the parade journeys south to Radio City Music Hall (from $549 a night, three night minimum). Hilton rooms are spacious by Manhattan standards, and the freshly renovated executive floor rooms and suites are gorgeous, cool, blue and sleek, if mid-century mod is to your liking (unfortunately, they’re situated on high floors). Sidewalk watching is restricted to hotel guests, so first-hand-viewing is an option if you choose a non-view room starting at $399. 1335 Avenue of the Americas between 53rd and 54th streets; 212 586-7000.
Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square This spacious Residence Inn occupies a prime spot not far from the parade’s grand finale. In addition to suites facing Sixth Avenue, a limited number of corner rooms offer double views, so you can watch the parade arrive and see it march along the ave. In addition to direct and partial views the hotel offers sky views, which means you’ll be looking down on the festivities. A minimum three-night stay is required. 1033 Avenue of the Americas at 39th Street; 212-380-5003
Courtyard Marriott New York Manhattan/Herald Square Billeted in a former bank, this newcomer to the parade stands directly across the street from Macy’s. For those who miss out on — or don’t want to pay for — a room with a parade view, the hotel serves up lobby viewing for guests. Arguably, lobby views are as good as it gets. The lobby features a long bank of windows facing Herald Square, where the parade ends. The package includes reserved seats in the lobby, a breakfast buffet with champagne mimosas and the option of purchasing additional viewing tickets. 71 West 35th Street at Avenue of the Americas; 800 228-9290
Excelsior Watching the balloons inflate, a massive undertaking on the streets bracketing the American Museum of Natural History, offers a unique perspective on the parade, ideal if you don’t care about floats and marching bands. The Excelsior, a moderately priced, newly renovated 1920s hotel, offers terrific views of the proceedings and entry to the street (since 9/11 access to balloon-inflation streets has been restricted). With its location a short walk from the parade’s start, you can probably score a good perch on the street the following day, provided you wake up early. 45 West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue; 212 362-9200