New York City Lodging: Harlem Jazz and Gospel Getaway
Why settle for a noisy New York City hotel with no personality when a handsome historic mansion on a beautiful, tree-lined, quiet street awaits? The Harlem Jazz and Gospel Getaway offers much more bang for the buck: for $600 a night, guests get dining, living, and sleeping quarters; music, media, and billiard rooms; an elevator to expedite the hike between the five floors; and a placid sitting garden – all in a 19th century brownstone with 21st century amenities.
Renovated to meet Architectural Digest standards in 2007, the meticulously-maintained mansion features framed photographs of jazz greats, a laundry room, skylights with southern exposure, and a well-stocked library that includes plenty of cookbooks. Guests can cook inside or outside, where a gas grill waits to be fired up. Owner Joyce Roquemore Hanly raised her three children in the home before deciding to share it with out-of-town visitors. Her 1985 wedding portrait, along with other personal photos, still hangs on the walls. She prides knowing her guests feel at home. Art and music lovers will surely enjoy the mansion. They're bound to make use of the piano in the living room. "There's practically someone in every group who loves to play the piano." So sing-alongs are inevitable. And if not, there's always card games and conversation. "I care about my guests and their happiness, she says. "I meet all of them and try to direct them to the jazz venues. I chose the name Harlem Jazz and Gospel Getaway because I want to promote Harlem and its musical traditions. Guests will find everything they need, including lots of closet space." With an average stay of three to eight days, they’ll need it. If groups are large enough, they might also make use of the five bathrooms, four fireplaces, and proximity to such Harlem icons as the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, art-deco Lenox Lounge and its unique Zebra Room, the acclaimed Maysles Cinema (for documentary films) and the famed Apollo Theater. There's even a telephone in the elevator – with no charges for calls anywhere in North America. Hanly provides plenty of extras, from a fully-equipped kitchen to information about the tree-lined, congenial neighborhood. Board games, musical instruments, candles, and facilities for dinner parties of 20 people are also available in the house. Hanly has thought of everything.
Carla Marie Rupp is a musician and writer who divides her time between Lower Manhattan in New York City and Bangkok and Pattaya, Thailand. (c) All photos by Carla Marie Rupp2011