Rediscovering my Dominican roots in Washington Heights: A assessment of the brand new Radio Resort in NYC

As a semi-native New Yorker, I all the time make a degree to remind everybody that New York is means extra expansive than simply the small microcosm that’s tourist-filled midtown.

Simply 6 miles north of Instances Sq., or about 125 blocks (when you’re counting), you’ll discover the sturdy and energizing neighborhood of Washington Heights. The neighborhood is residence to one of many largest enclaves of Dominican People in the complete nation (which you already know when you’ve seen the long-lasting musical-turned-movie “Within the Heights”).

As a Dominican American myself, the Heights has lengthy been a second residence. Like many different immigrants from the Dominican Republic, nearly all of my household discovered themselves laying roots in Washington Heights. Holidays, birthdays, baptisms and commencement events in my household have all taken place within the neighborhood.

Don’t get me fallacious: Whereas getting on the notorious 6 a.m. JetBlue flight to Santo Domingo is all the time a deal with, I’m fortunate that I don’t need to enterprise too far to reconnect with my tradition — it is as straightforward as hopping on the A prepare and going uptown.

So once I heard that Radio Resort, a brand new life-style resort, was opening within the Heights, and its ethos, design and structure are all an homage to the tradition and panorama of the Dominicano Nuevayorkino expertise, I knew that I needed to test it out.

Whereas it’s nonetheless a comparatively new resort, and I solely stayed for 2 nights, it was greater than sufficient to really feel as if I had traded Decrease Manhattan for Santo Domingo — all without having my passport.

Right here’s what it was like staying on the Radio Resort in Washington Heights.


Getting there

If you happen to’re trying to expertise the true higher Manhattan means of attending to the resort, your finest guess is the subway. The Radio Resort is simply two blocks away from the No. 1 prepare and 5 blocks away from the A prepare, which, conveniently sufficient, you may take all the way in which from John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport (JFK).

Experience-hailing providers like Uber or Lyft can even get you there, however remember the fact that throughout rush hour and relying on which New York airport you arrive at, the worth might range. Whereas LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is the closest by distance, Newark Liberty Worldwide (EWR) and JFK are each fairly cheap — simply be ready to take a seat in some mild-to-moderate site visitors.

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Higher Manhattan is notorious for its hectic drivers, slender streets and really restricted avenue parking, so be sure you brush up in your defensive driving expertise when you select to drive into town. Fortunately, the resort affords free parking which, in New York, is sort of the luxurious.


Reserving particulars

When reserving my keep, I debated between a normal studio and a king suite. In the end, I made a decision to go along with the usual studio, which went for $211.31 an evening, versus $340 an evening for the king suite. The one actual distinction gave the impression to be the dimensions of the mattress.

For the reason that resort is privately owned, it’s not a part of any main resort loyalty program. Nevertheless, it’s obtainable to ebook by way of to earn evening credit by way of the Rewards program.

For my keep, I ended up paying, utilizing my Chase Sapphire Most popular Card, a complete of $432.71 for 2 nights — which by New York requirements is fairly cheap, contemplating the placement and period of time I stayed on the resort.

Standout options

  • The outside is sort of colourful; you can’t miss it. The constructing is decked out in pink, yellow and blue with a big Radio Resort banner on the highest.
  • The foyer has a tremendous Dominican artwork assortment, with sculptures and glasswork all handmade by native Dominican American artists.
  • The workers may be very pleasant, and for many who solely communicate Spanish, no want to stress. All of the entrance desk workers members communicate fluent Spanish. In actual fact, I barely spoke a phrase of English throughout my keep.
  • The outside courtyard is a tremendous space to hang around, get some work performed, or just get some much-needed contemporary air. Surprisingly, it was very quiet there for being proper on a busy avenue.


  • I noticed on the web site that there was a personal rooftop, which I used to be keen to take a look at. Nevertheless, I used to be upset to be taught that the rooftop was open solely for personal occasions.
  • The room itself had no closet however moderately underbed storage and a bit rack with a few hangers. There was very restricted area to place my bag and toiletries.
  • The bathe facilities had been a bit laborious to make use of. The complete-size bottles, which had been hooked up to the wall, had been the sort that you simply squeeze to pump out product. I needed to battle with the bottles a bit bit in an effort to get the contents.
  • The desk within the room wasn’t probably the most remote-work pleasant. The desk chair was extra of a bar stool, so when you’re searching for a spot to do some work, I recommend going downstairs to the courtyard or foyer as a substitute.

The vibe

From the skin, you may’t miss it. Trying like a stack of multicolored Legos, the outside was fashionable and utilitarian, however with a colourful twist.

Inside, I noticed all kinds of individuals. There have been households with children, enterprise vacationers and a few {couples} who, primarily based on overheard conversations, I assumed had been on a staycation. Nearly all of the folks staying there had one factor in widespread: Spanish was the lingua franca of alternative. Whereas everybody on the workers spoke fluent English, it was good to make use of my native tongue, one thing that I don’t typically get to do.

The room


I bought misplaced discovering my room within the lengthy, maze-like hallway, however as soon as I lastly opened the door, a motion-sensor gentle turned on and I used to be greeted with the sight of royal blue tiles on the wall.

Throughout from the brightly coloured tiles, the lavatory, which had an open format with a heavy sliding door, was modest in measurement. The bathe, which was a large improve from my ridiculously small decrease Manhattan bathe, took up a big a part of the lavatory.

Contained in the bathe had been squeeze tubes of full-size aloe-scented Tub & Physique Works merchandise. I did wrestle a bit with these merchandise as they weren’t the simplest to get out; nevertheless, they did the job simply fantastic. To not point out, the clear and refreshing scent of aloe was fairly fulfilling and powerful sufficient to really feel clear but additionally gentle sufficient that it wasn’t overpowering.

Proper within the middle of the room, the mattress was positioned on high of a wood, canopy-like body, nestled by the window. The TV was situated inside the mattress body, which made it superb for a late-night TV binge.

A small desk within the room was large enough for my 16-inch MacBook Professional; nevertheless, once I opened it, the area was a bit cramped. The desk chair — or stool, I ought to say — wasn’t probably the most sensible for doing prolonged quantities of labor. Over time I skilled minor neck ache and, due to this, I wasn’t in a position to do as a lot work in my room as I might’ve preferred and resorted to going downstairs to the foyer.

The room didn’t have a typical closet or wardrobe to hold my gadgets or retailer my garments, nevertheless it did have a small rod, which got here with a few hangers for some coats, and storage beneath the mattress the place I put my duffle bag. There was additionally a secure situated beneath the mattress.

There wasn’t a lot by way of the design that enticed me to lounge round in my room. In actual fact, it was fairly the other: The room’s minimalist design inspired me to go exterior and discover the neighborhood — however possibly that’s intentional contemplating the resort’s dynamic locale.

Don’t get me fallacious, the mattress was completely comfy and the TV’s placement was by far the very best of the very best, particularly at 10:30 at evening after a extremely heavy meal. All in all, the room was positively cozy; nevertheless, I wouldn’t need to spend an excessive amount of time in there when there’s an entire neighborhood to discover good exterior.

Foods and drinks

One of many standout options of the Radio Resort is Jalao, a Dominican restaurant with a “culinary twist,” named for a conventional dessert made with coconuts and honey. I’ll be trustworthy, I’m fairly skeptical once I hear the time period “culinary twist,” particularly with interpretations of meals I’ve grown up consuming.

As I made my strategy to the restaurant, which is conveniently situated proper throughout from the foyer, sounds of bachata music and laughter bought louder and louder. On the hostess stand, I used to be greeted in Spanish and escorted with my good friend to our desk.


The restaurant is designed to resemble the stylish eating places of cosmopolitan Santo Domingo, that means Spanish-influenced arches within the doorway, plenty of brightly coloured art work and, most significantly, the colourful sounds of bachata blasting at full quantity.


We began with the tart however refreshing Mercado Margarita ($18), made utilizing silver tequila and keenness fruit juice and topped with a rosemary-hibiscus foam.


One other drink that struck me was a tackle a extremely popular Dominican beverage referred to as a Morir Sonando ($15), which interprets to “die dreaming.” A conventional Morir Sonando is made with orange juice, Dominican vanilla extract and evaporated milk. The distinction between Jalao’s take and the unique is that Jalao’s model is adult-friendly, with a pleasant splash of Tito’s vodka, which added a pleasant kick to the normal childhood drink. Nevertheless, you may and completely ought to attempt it with out alcohol when you’re searching for one thing to fulfill a candy tooth craving.


As an appetizer, I selected the Bombones de Yuca ($13), or little yuca-based croquettes crammed with cheddar cheese and topped off with a chipotle-pineapple criolla sauce. These little croquettes pack an actual candy and savory punch with a minor hit of spice.

For my most important course, I ordered a conventional Dominican stew dish referred to as Sancocho ($26), normally made utilizing totally different cuts of meat, carrots and corn in a wealthy cilantro-based broth and served with a aspect of white rice and freshly ripened avocado. Dipping my rice into the broth, I might nearly think about my grandmother’s betrayal if I instructed her how shut this was to the true deal.

The richness and daring flavors of the meat together with the bottom of the white rice and avocado made the within of my mouth dance alongside to the fast-paced merengue beat surrounding me.

When it got here time to dessert, I made a decision that as my last check of figuring out whether or not Jalao’s “culinary twist” was as much as my private requirements, I might attempt the 5 Leches Dominicana ($13), Jalao’s tackle the normal tres leches, my favourite dessert of all time. I attempted to order a cafecito on the aspect to accompany my dessert, very like my grandfather would all the time do, however sadly, my server instructed me that the espresso machine wasn’t working, so I settled on a Coca-Cola ($3). The dessert itself was wealthy and creamy, with the style of Dominican vanilla extract together with hints of what I assumed to be rum.

Total, I used to be past thrilled with Jalao. The environment, which jogged my memory of being at a energetic restaurant within the Dominican Republic, invoked candy nostalgic recollections — to not point out the meals itself. I’ve to say, I’m glad I used to be fallacious in being skeptical concerning the so-called culinary twist, and I’ll admit it: I really actually preferred the enjoyable interpretations of conventional meals and drinks.

Facilities and repair

Whereas there was no spa or swimming pool, the resort did supply a small however decently geared up fitness center.

The nicest elements of my keep had been the interactions I had with the very pleasant workers, from the entrance desk employees to the hostess at Jalao and the housekeepers. In actual fact, when chatting with one of many housekeepers we discovered we had a mutual distant cousin from again within the Dominican Republic. It actually goes to indicate that the neighborhood up within the Heights can generally be actually, actually small.

Out and about

Radio Resort’s design and theme actually encourage visitors to exit and expertise the neighborhood and close by areas.

Just some stops north on the A prepare, you’ll end up within the neighborhood of Inwood, which is on the very tiptop of Manhattan. There, you’ll discover loads of energetic eating places, bars, nightclubs and lounges. To not point out, for any sports activities followers, you’re only some stops away from Yankee Stadium, so when you’re trying to catch a sport, you’ll be proper close to the motion.

With the resort’s location, you actually do get the very best of each worlds. Not solely are you proper in the midst of the hustle and bustle of New York, however you’re additionally in shut proximity to a few of the pure sights town has to supply. Fort Tryon Park is barely two stops away on the uptown A or No. 1 prepare, the place you may hike alongside the southern Hudson Valley and get not just some breathtaking views but additionally a pleasant break from town noise.

If you happen to’re searching for some arts and tradition, Washington Heights is residence to the United Palace theater, host of the 2023 Tony Awards. And only one cease away, the Met Cloisters is residence to an expansive assortment of art work from the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork. You’ll discover relics, uncommon artifacts and breathtaking artwork all situated inside an 18th-century Romanesque-style monastery.


Whereas Radio Resort affords People with Disabilities Act-compliant rooms upon request, I discovered that some elements of the resort may very well be troublesome to navigate. So as to get to my room, I needed to navigate a dimly lit, labyrinth-like hallway with restricted, tiny indicators pointing towards room numbers. Contained in the room, area was minimal however hopefully a lot bigger in accessible rooms.

Contained in the bathe, I had a little bit of problem getting a few of the toilet merchandise out of full-size squeeze tubes. It might’ve been higher if the bottles had a pump, as soapy palms and enormous squeeze bottles aren’t essentially the very best mixture.


Trying again at my keep, I’ve to say that general it was an actual deal with. Going into this I had excessive hopes when it got here to the Radio Resort — and, for probably the most half, it exceeded my expectations.

Though there have been some minor hiccups alongside the way in which, I felt that for a brand-new resort, particularly one which’s not linked to any giant chain, Radio has one thing enjoyable and distinctive to supply. You will not be within the middle of the motion as you’ll be at different motels, however you do get the chance to actually immerse your self inside the tradition of the encircling space and be part of the neighborhood that I name my residence away from residence.

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