New York is expensive, writes Steve Zacharanda.

Not reassuringly expensive like Stella Artois but unapologetically expensive like Madonna charging you £200 to see her mime.

This is because if you have any wanderlust, curiosity or any kind of interest in your fellow man you have to go to New York once in your life.

The Big Apple is the flagship of Western capitalist civilization, as you crane your neck and see countless skyscrapers stretch into the distance it is obvious you are somewhere of unprecedented human achievement.

New York has five boroughs - The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island - the metropolis is so big that on its own Brooklyn would be America's fourth largest city.

However, if you are a first-timer or a tourist then Manhattan, where you have seen all the TV programmes and films, is the place to go.

But hotels are expensive as the demand will always be high. Hotels don't even need to try to attract tourists, they will be near enough full anyway.

I got to The Larchmont in Greenwich Village at the end of a two and a half week trip around America which started in New York. By the time we had finished our expensive dinner at an inexpensive by NYC standards pub on the first night we had decided to leave for the South where fags, booze, food and accommodation would be cheaper than the Big Apple.

By the time we returned we had stayed at super modern hotels, 1960s renovated hotels and boutique hotels, each with a wide screen eye-ball knackering tv, all the rooms merged into one, none had character. But The Larchmont Hotel had character, spades of it.

The place fired the imagination, its decor was not faux retro, not from a focus group's wants and needs or a too-cool-for-school designer whose ideas are rolled out across a portfolio of hotels.

The Larchmont Hotel's writing desks held secrets going back decades, the stories each room could tell could make a novelist's career. The decor is old school Americana, I loved the pre-plastic decor and faded glory of the place.

Greenwich Village is a great to visit, The Larchmont Hotel is round the corner from Washington Square Park, which is a de-ja-vu triggering landmark which though I've never been to had seen on screen a million times.

The most famous hotel in Greenwich Village history is the Chelsea, from the beat poets to the punks the Chelsea is an international hotel shrine, and they charge like it is. As it is The Larchmont is only a stagger from there, I wonder how many stars got turned away from the Chelsea and ended up at The Larchmont.

The hotel sits in in a row of historic West Village townhouses and thankfully has avoided conversion into luxury apartments like so many other places during gentrification.

The 1910 beaux arts building has been in the hands of the same family for generations and it was a welcome change to be out of Chain USA Ltd. The staff spoke plenty of languages and even understood Brummie, the mosaic in the entrance pointed to grander days and the lift was gloriously slow.

Dudley News:

We were given keys, actual keys, not cards, which after seven hotels in two weeks I was using the wrong cards in the wrong hotels usually resulting in me shouting at lifts and doors.

You cant do that with keys. One was for the front door, another for the landing door and the last for the room. Each room has a sink and each landing has two showers and a kitchen. Due to the landing locks there was not a hostel-style rush or queue for the bathrooms.

Downstairs is the dining room for continental breakfast, I liked that the hotel has some long-time residents, giving the place an authentic feel and this obviously means they like it, and an obvious sign that there is not a dreaded bedbug problem - like so many New York hotels.

The hotel, with its writing desks and 1930s feel has super fast wi-fi, which in some ways was sad, I think the hotel could be set up as a haven from the modern world in the city that never sleeps. However, there is cable TV, Ipod docks and the stuff travellers demand in loud voices at receptions all over the world.

And lets be honest, if you are going to New York and spend most of the time in a hotel room then something is wrong, either food poisoning or your partner is on the run. So the Larchmont Hotel is the perfect base to have the time of your life.

If I ever have to go to New York again, and am going on my own, or with a friend I'm staying at The Larchmont, because the price and place is right (single rooms from $90 and doubles from $119). 

And if I'm going with a lady, I certainly going there because if she turns her nose up and demands to relocate to some soulless chain hotel I'll know she's not the one for me.

For more information about The Larchmont Hotel visit www.larchmonthotel.com