When holiday season arrives in New York City, so do hordes of tourists—which sometimes makes going to a big museum show seem like a contact sport. But if you’re looking for a superlative culture fix and an escape from massive crowds at the same time, New York Habitat recommends the Neue Galerie, one of several smaller but still stunning boutique museums that have a loyal following among resident and honorary New Yorkers alike.

Neue Galerie

Located uptown at 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street) the Neue Galerie sits just a few blocks from better-known institutions like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan, but tends to be far less crowded than those tourist magnets. This pocket-sized gem is housed in a stunning brick-and-limestone 1914 mansion designed by the same architects responsible for the New York Public Library. Its permanent collection consists almost entirely of late-19th- and early-20th-century German and Austrian art, and reputedly boasts the highest number of works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele anywhere outside of Vienna.

That said, though, it’s worth noting that from right now until April 2012 the Neue is expanding its range with The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century/Germany, Austria, and France, which includes everything from medieval arms and armor to Brancusi sculptures and yes, at least one Schiele portrait. (Ronald S. Lauder is one of the Neue’s co-founders.)

Meanwhile, no mention of the Neue Galerie is complete without a plug for its in-house restaurant, the wondrous Café Sabarsky, which puts a 21st-century spin on central European staples like goulash and weisswurst served with a warm pretzel. If that’s not Gemütlichkeit enough for you, try one of the Café’s deliciously decadent Viennese pastries like Sachertorte, the traditional dark chocolate cake with apricot confiture. (Don’t be surprised if you start to hear a Strauss waltz swirling around your ears after the first mouthful.)

The Neue Galerie is open Thursday through Monday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Planning a trip to New York City to visit the Neue Galerie or any of its other world-class museums? New York Habitat has furnished rental apartments all over New York city, catering to a diverse range of tastes and budgets. Following are a few sample listings to give you an idea of what’s available.

– A furnished one-bedroom apartment rental (NY-14303) in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood features distinctive contemporary furnishings and a fully equipped kitchen. The apartment is located in a charming five-story walk-up on a tree-lined street that’s adjacent to the fashionable West Village and is also close to the bustling Meatpacking District and Union Square. Several subway lines are one block away, so getting to other parts of the city couldn’t be more convenient.

-This spacious, fully furnished studio apartment (NY-12415) is located west of midtown, between Eighth and Ninth Avenue, on the 14th floor of a gorgeous new high-rise with views. It has a 24-hour doorman and reception area where all visitors are announced, along with laundry facilities in the basement and a courtyard on the second floor. Times Square and the Theatre District are both just a short walk away, along with restaurants, shopping, and excellent live music and entertainment options.

– This fully furnished one-bedroom apartment (NY-14442) is located in Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, only one subway stop away from Manhattan. This apartment is on the third floor of a four-story townhouse. Lined with white wash hardwood floors and accented by tasteful modern furnishings, this apartment features a flat screen TV as well as two decorative fireplaces.

Is the Neue Galerie one of your favorite New York destinations? Or perhaps there’s another smaller-scale New York museum you’d like to recommend to New York Habitat readers? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the space below.