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Manhattan, Brooklyn and QueensOctober 15, 2012 By: Frances Pondish, Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent
|The Bowery Hotel design embodies the standard in luxury New York City living.|
Does being in New York make you feel young at heart? If your psychographic vibe makes the explorer in you feel 20-something all over again, we’ve got some travel tips for you.
The Meatball Shop downtown is hands down one of our favorite spots to kick back and enjoy a clever twist on an old favorite. Customize your meal with your provided dry-erase menu and marker. We especially love the sliders you can mix and match—think spicy pork meatball with Parmesan cream sauce. Oh, and did we mention homemade cookie sandwiches? You can even mismatch the top and bottom cookies.
Behold—one great reason to fight the Time Square crowds: Hagi—a ridiculously good Japanese sake bar hidden among a vast array of flashing lights and tourists yielding cameras. Grab a few friends and feast on Japanese-style BBQ and traditional dishes. Our Picks: Pork with cabbage, grilled yellowtail collar, wasabi dumplings and chicken meatballs. And of course, you should wash it all down with a pitcher of Sapporo and sake of your choice.
If you’re craving a southern-style meal, we suggest Jacob’s Pickles. As the name permits, there’s no shortage of pickled vegetables at this unique eatery. But what we really love are the southern-inspired meals that make you feel right at home. Order the honey chicken and pickles southern biscuit sandwich with a side of cheese grits (yes, it’s a mouthful) and your taste buds will thank you, we promise. They also offer craft beer flights and unique cocktails like the Spicy Brine Margarita with jalapeno tequila and spicy pickle brine.
|Gansevoort Park Avenue’s rooftop sundeck affords 360-degree city views.|
One of our favorite happy hour spots is Gyu-Kaku. The midtown location has half-price Japanese BBQ and drink specials (99 cent Kirin anyone?) all day Monday to Wednesday. We recommend trying the Coca-Cola-braised pork Gyu-Bun and the lychee martini.
Blind Tiger is our West Village favorite thanks to the chilled-out ambiance, but mostly because of the extensive draught list. Beer and cheese lovers will delight in free cheese samplings at the bar every Wednesday at 6 p.m.
If you insist on stumbling into a dive bar, we suggest checking out the not-so-“divey” bars of the Jake’s Dilemma variety. Jakes on the Upper West Side has a library-lounge in the back, where you can catch up on your reading—or play a game of beer pong. You can also find its sister bars (nycbestbar.com) around the city, namely The Gin Mill, Off the Wagon and The Stumble Inn. For you gamers out there, Fat Cat is a hip West Village jazz bar offering pool, ping pong, chess, and more. It’s a laid-back pool hall with nightly jam sessions—what more could you ask for?
|Gansevoort Park Avenue’s Superior Rooms come with a king or queen bed.|
Bypass the department stores and head to Bleecker Street. Between Eighth Avenue and Christopher Street you’ll find boutique shopping and the likes of Michael Kors, Jo Malone, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. We love Bookmarc, Marc Jacob’s book store offering a selection of art, fashion and music titles, along with designer totes and desk supplies. Hint: Make your way across the street for a cupcake from the iconic Magnolia Bakery.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to check out Chelsea Market, where you can snag a variety of culinary goods. You can also head to Union Square for some retail therapy. Tip: The Union Square Holiday Market, open annually between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, is perfect for a dose of holiday spirit. For indoor shopping, head to South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan for usual run-of-the-mill stores. Panoramic views of the harbor make it worth the trip.
Over the River
Want to see what all the rage is about in Brooklyn? Williamsburg is by far one of Brooklyn’s most trendy and talked-about neighborhoods. Once barren and industrial, populated with nothing but warehouses, this waterfront destination has blossomed into a vibrant and youthful haven for hipsters, artists, musicians and young professionals.
|The London Atrium Suite’s dining area is designed for formal or casual in-room dining for up to four.|
Dining and shopping is what you come to Williamsburg for. The streets are flanked with boutiques, and a new restaurant seems to open on a daily basis. No doubt the giant of Williamsburg’s restaurant scene is Peter Luger Steakhouse, which sits just under the Williamsburg Bridge. This historical establishment has been serving up prime cuts of beef to New York’s elite for well over 100 years. Note: Peter Luger is cash-only.
But if your scene is something a little more local, we suggest Diner. Housed in a converted railroad dining car, this tiny watering hole serves up a constantly rotating menu of fresh and local ingredients (including the best burger in NYC, we say. Bold statement, but trust us). Tip: Diner’s weekend brunch has quite the reputation, so be prepared for a long wait during peak hours.
Fancy a brew? Kick back with the local, eponymous beverage at the Brooklyn Brewery.
Fashionistas tired of the 5th Avenue scene will love a trip to the Brooklyn Flea, held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the East River waterfront, between North 6th and 7th streets. This antique and vintage hot spot has been a New York staple for years. Note: On summer Saturdays, the same space plays host to Smorgasburg, a foodie festival packed with local purveyors selling their specialties to the public.
Getting There: Williamsburg is a straight shot over the Williamsburg Bridge. Or, if you prefer to travel like a local, take the L train to Bedford Avenue and explore on foot.
Farther north from Brooklyn, and across the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan, is another thriving neighborhood that should be on your radar. Long Island City is Queens’ little luxury gem, home to high-rise apartment buildings, quaint restaurants and a flourishing art scene.
The Museum of Modern Art has an outpost in Long Island City. MoMA PS1 is one of the country’s oldest nonprofit contemporary art centers. Note: This museum is best enjoyed by the adventurous art pursuers. MoMA PS1 devotes itself to displaying some of the most experimental art in the world. Exhibitions often include artists’ retrospectives, site-specific installations, historical surveys and other forms of international art.
Movie buffs will love the Museum of the Moving Image, which is technically in Astoria, but still very close to Long Island City. Take a tour through cinematic history while checking out paraphernalia from some of your favorite flicks.
Foodies with a need for a view will love Water’s Edge Restaurant, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline. Guests can dine indoors or alfresco while taking in iconic views. Be sure to check out Testaccio Ristorante as well, which serves up delicious brick oven pizzas and homemade pastas.
One of Long Island City’s best-kept nightlife secrets is Dutch Kills. This modern take on a speakeasy is a throwback to the good old days of bob haircuts and spats—and the cocktails are to die for.
Getting There: Travelers can reach Long Island City via the Queensboro Bridge or on the No. 7 train at Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue.
|The London Atrium Suite at The London NYC affords panoramic views of Central Park, the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline.|
Where to Stay
The London NYC is set in the bustling heart of New York. Walk to a Broadway show—perhaps after dinner at Hagi—and return to a sophisticated, modern suite. We are obsessed with the 1,400 square-foot Atrium Suite offering panoramic views of Central Park, the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline. Gordon Ramsay serves up French-inspired cuisine, and you can even interact with his culinary team at the Chef’s Table, where guests dine in The London NYC’s multimillion-dollar kitchen. Luxury travel advisors can reach out to sales executive Marianne McCann ([email protected]; 212-468-8823).
The Greenwich Hotel, Robert DeNiro’s charming creation, will make you feel right at home. Situated in one of the city’s most desirable areas, the hotel puts you in close proximity to shops, galleries and restaurants. Amenities include a private courtyard and drawing room, Shibui Spa and fitness center, as well as a lantern-lit swimming pool and lounge. A Penthouse stay comes with extra amenities, including roundtrip airport transfer and two personal training or poolside yoga sessions. We hear Tom Cruise and Kate Hudson were recently spotted here. Tip: For ultimate luxury, book the N. Moore Duplex Penthouse. It’s fitted with a fireplace, sauna and steam room. Luxury travel advisors can contact Director of Sales and Marketing Katy Horne ([email protected]; 646-203-0022) for inquiries.
The Gansevoort Park Avenue is a perfect jumping point from which A-listers can easily access the outer boroughs. The hotel has played host to the likes of Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian. We hear the best rooms to book are the Grand Deluxe King Rooms. These are 450 square feet with a walkout balcony and five-fixture bathroom. Tip: For the ultimate in luxury, book the three-bedroom Penthouses, #1110, 1111, 1112 and 1211, or the Park Suite, with a 1000-square-foot terrace.
Reach out to Director of Leisure Travel Kerry Bergin ([email protected]).
After a full day of perusing Brooklyn and Queens, we suggest booking a treatment at the hotel’s 3,500-square-foot Exhale Spa. Request the Flow Massage, which is perfect for those who like deep tissue massages without the pressure. Spa appointments should be made a week in advance. Contact Spa Director Lee-ann Ng Wai ([email protected]; 646-380-5330).
Looking for insider access? Reach out to Sanam, Jane, Michael or Abrahm with the concierge team. We hear that they have been able to pull off a personal photo shoot for families in the city, VIP tickets to sold-out concerts or shows, and backstage passes during Fashion Week. Contact the team at [email protected] or 212-317-2900.
For a downtown option, we say The Bowery Hotel is the best. Be sure to book the Bowery One Bedroom rooms, all of which have terraces. We hear that the north-facing rooms have views of the Empire State Building. Reach out to Audrey Laurent ([email protected]; 212-505-9100), director of sales, with questions.
While New York’s restaurant scene can be overwhelming, diners will not be disappointed with a meal at the hotel restaurant, Gemma. Tip: Try the branzino al forno. The restaurant is open to the public, but only hotel guests are granted reservations. For this, contact Gemma’s General Manager Marko Zivkovic (212-505-9100). It is best to make reservations five days in advance.
For over-the-top needs, reach out to Tilo Springs ([email protected]; 212-505-9100), front office manager. We were told that Springs can arrange for personal shoppers and assistants; in-room spa services; premium seating for events, concerts and shows; and helicopter tours of the city.
For more information on New York City, check out www.nycgo.com.