When I visited New York last year, I had been given a recommendation for an inexpensive place to stay, called Leo House. Leo House is a Catholic Guest House (the website describes it as a "quiet Christian Guesthouse) that has been around since the early 1920's, offering affordable accomodations to travellers of all faiths, (or none, as the case may be). It's not fancy, in fact, it can be downright shabby, and if you have a strong adversion to crucifixes, pastels and floral prints, you may want to stay elsewhere, but both times I stayed there it was clean, safe, and the staff, which include lay people, and The Sisters of St. Agnes, were polite and efficient. And they have a great breakfast buffet Mondays - Saturdays for $9. The best thing about it is the location, which is right in the heart of Chelsea, which is a neighbourhood located on the West side of Manhattan, bordered roughly by 14th Street to the South, 30th Street to the North, the Hudson River to the West and Sixth Avenue to the East.
Prior to staying at Leo House I didn't really know anything about Chelsea, other than it was the home of the famous Hotel Chelsea, where a great many artists and musicians lived and worked.
As a long-time fan of Leonard Cohen, I was happy to see his 75th birthday commemorative plaque mounted by the front door
The High Line park, built on no longer use elevated rail train tracks, provides a quiet, plant-filled oasis from which to view the city streets below.
Artists have contributed installations to add visual interest
and some residents whose windows face onto the Highline have added their own art
I fell in love with Chelsea from the moment I stepped out the front door of Leo House on my first morning in New York last year, and found myself blending right in with the sidewalk traffic of people heading to work and walking their dogs. It's far enough from Time's Square that you don't have to contend with hordes of tourists, and it has become my home away from home. The businesses reflect the ethnic diversity of the neighbourhood, and within a block of my hotel I could see a movie, have my palm read, get a fresh-baked brownie, or.....
if I was a guy, I could get my hair cut at 9:00 pm
How could you not want to live in a neighbourhood that has a Nice Laundry?
I've discovered that many New Yorkers don't cook at home much, and really, when there is such a variety of great food (some of it very inexpensive) just outside your door, why would you? This is another reason why I think I would make the perfect New Yorker. Chelsea is home to some great restaurants, and I had time to try four - The Red Cat, The Rocking Horse Cafe, Cafe Champignon (photo below) and Cafeteria.
Cafe Champignon was a little bit of Paris in the heart of Chelsea, where The Style Crone and I had a lovely dinner, to the accompaniment of some classic soul tunes
The uber-cool Cafeteria, open 24 hrs, where the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas and I were treated like royalty by the wonderful staff
I had the most delicious grilled salmon BLT, accompanied by a "Rude Margarita"
The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas
In case you were thinking I must have been commissioned by the Chelsea tourism board (if there was such a thing) to write this, it's not the case. I really do love the neighbourhood, and if circumstances ever were such that I could move to New York, I would be delighted to become a full-time Chelsea Girl!