If you’ve ever wanted to experience living in a New York brownstone or townhouse without paying a fortune, your best bet is to book a stay at a bed and breakfast. These B&Bs give guests a chance to avoid the huge hotels in favor of a more cozy, quiet NYC experience, and experience some beautiful 19th-century architecture.
Bed and Breakfast
This 1860s Italianate mansion in tree-lined Stuyvesant Heights was renovated by the husband-and-wife team of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, maintaining many of its classic historic features, such as gaslight fixtures, stained glass and antique furnishings. This is combined with Southern cooking and hospitality, and each of the four guest rooms is outfitted to reflect a different culture. Along with all this, the private garden and sun porch make the Akwaaba Mansion unique among other New York B&Bs.
The rooms at 1871 House feature antique furnishings | Courtesy of 1871 House
1871 House is not the bed and breakfast you go to for a quick weekend getaway. This “extended stay NYC B&B” has a 30-night minimum, perfect for a summer in the city or a trial experience of city living. The Upper East Side brownstone offers furnished, no-fee, easy to rent apartments, complete with fully equipped kitchens, often used by artists or opera singers in town for weeks at a time. The antique and reproduction furnishings emphasize the high ceilings and functional marble fireplaces for a 19th-century shabby chic feel.
An 1888 townhouse designed by a celebrated 19th-century architect, Mount Morris House overlooks Marcus Garvey Park, one of the city’s oldest parks, on a historic block that once housed people like Rodgers and Hammerstein. The Gilded Age architecture features parquet floors, crown mouldings and marble bathrooms. Like the 1871 House, Mount Morris House is best for longer stays, with two suites for up to three or five people.
West 119th B&B is in the Mount Morris Park Historic District | Courtesy of West 119th B&B / Booking.com
Not far from Columbia University and Central Park, the beautiful, cozy West 119th B&B in the Mount Morris Park Historic District is known for its friendliness and hospitality. It provides two rooms for up to four guests each, all with different amenities, such as heated bathroom floors or access to a private garden terrace. Breakfast, if included in your stay, is provided for free by Café Latte, just a minute’s walk around the corner.
At the heart of the Gramercy Park neighborhood, The Inn at Irving Place is set within a pair of 1834 townhouses. Described as reminiscent of Edith Wharton’s New York, the inn provides eight guest rooms with beautiful Victorian furnishings, as well as four extended-stay abodes, all accessible by its grand staircase. Also on the property are Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon and martini bar the Cibar.
The Sankofa Aban is a beautiful Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone built in the 1880s. The Victorian parlor features stained-glass windows, original mouldings, woodwork and wood floors, with a garden in the back. The colorful rooms are richly decorated, with similar detailing, antique fireplaces, marble wash basins and ceiling fans. Shared bathrooms include either a whirlpool spa tub or claw-foot tub. The Sankofa Aban is mostly known for its weekly Brownstone Jazz events, which feature swinging musicians performing intimate sets in old-school elegance, so be sure to check it out during your stay.
Set in the 1887 Renaissance Revival house used in Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (1994), Arlington Place honors the brownstone’s Victorian past while infusing it with modern and eco-friendly touches to make it a truly unique property. Notable touches include the dining room’s old-fashioned toile wallpaper, depicting modern Brooklyn. Visitors here can enjoy a complimentary organic breakfast and use of both the library and garden. There’s also a cavernous bar in the cellar.
Opened in Williamsburg in 2014, Urban Cowboy stands out among New York B&Bs for its rustic Southwestern flair, with potbelly stoves, wood-burning fireplaces and dreamcatchers. Guests have an option of four rooms, with open-plan communal space and a hot tub in the backyard to help you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s. Alternative accommodations include The Treehouse, a private townhouse separate from the main B&B with its own living room, kitchen and roof deck; and Kanoono Cabin, a cozy full-service wood cabin out back with a bed, sofa and roll-top bathtub.
If you love seaside B&Bs but want to see the city, Harbor House is the place to go. Located on New York Harbor in Staten Island, Harbor House offers great views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Verrazano Bridge. Rooms tend to be spacious and airy, and guests are provided with a continental breakfast. At least a two-night stay is recommended.