When you're staying at a hotel, would you like a pet goldfish to keep you company? Or perhaps warm cookies at bedtime to help lull you to sleep?

While the hospitality industry is largely dominated by big chains, some small-business owners have managed to thrive by attracting customers hankering for more than just a place to stay.

"It's not about being overly hipster, it's about good service," said Emanuel Stern, owner of the SoHo Grand Hotel.

When Emanuel Stern and his brother, Leonard Stern, opened the SoHo Grand hotel ten years ago in downtown Manhattan, the odds of success were not in their favor. In addition to stiff competition from many hotel giants in New York City, the Sterns also faced opposition from residents in the neighborhood around the hotel, who vehemently objected to the potential for increased congestion in the area.

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