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Travel tip: Psst... Reasonable hotel, midtown Manhattan

Psst. Here's a hotel with reasonable rates in midtown Manhattan.

A couple of months ago, I needed a bed for a night in midtown Manhattan, and I couldn’t spend more than $250 (before taxes). In a city whose average room rate hovers near $280, this meant I was doomed to squalor, right? Wrong.

Thanks to some wise counsel from travel agent Michael Hannan at San Marin Travel, I landed at The Blakely, a boutique hotel at 136 West 55th St.

Despite the many raves it’s gotten on Trip Advisor, I’d never heard of it. (And the hotel didn’t know I would be writing anything about it.) But I’ll be a repeat customer now.

The Blakely stands between 6th and 7th avenues, about two blocks from Carnegie Hall, four blocks from the Museum of Modern Art or Central Park, 10 blocks from Times Square. The WiFi is free, they deliver a New York Times to your door, all the rooms are at least 310 square feet, and the interior design will remind you of an English library. (With so many boutique properties straining to demonstrate their youthful cool, that was a relief.) Cost of my room: $249. Just under the wire. (There are plenty of taxes in New York, however; they added another $42 to the tab.)

Oh, and there’s more to this tip. The Blakely's concierge pointed me toward a great restaurant for a low-key but sophisticated dinner: La Bonne Soupe (48 W. 55th St.), a busy two-level bistro with a neighborhood feel. That's no small feat when you’re on a thoroughly touristed block between the Peninsula and Warwick hotels. Dinner main dishes $16-$36, French onion soup a specialty.

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