I lived in Manhattan from 1979 until 1984. I’ve visited as often as possible since I left. But to this day I can’t say I have a favorite place to stay in the city. Or a favorite restaurant. Every trip is new.
However, I do have some recommendations, and photos of where I stayed for Fashion Week, and what we ate. For a city so big, and so open to growth, sometimes that which we have experienced most recently is the best On to the details.
The New York Palace Hotel (now prefixed with “Lotte,” was “Helmsley” back in the day)
Last week I stayed at the New York Palace. The room was what I’d call medium-fancy. Incredibly comfortable beds.
Bathroom, again, medium-fancy. Well-done; nice magnifying mirror which I absolutely require to ward off all kinds of horrors, good water pressure, lighting, towels, etc. No separate show separate from tub, but let’s not be princesses, OK?
The view was better than good. In New York I’d rather have a teeny room with a view of the city than a large room lacking city reminders. I love that feeling, “I’m in NEW YORK, baby!”
The hotel doesn’t have full-day food service, which is a little inconvenient, but they do serve a good breakfast. I recommend the French toast. Up these stairs, on the mezzanine. The old Villard mansion part of the hotel is ornate gilt heaven.
Service can be slow. But friendly. In fact, the service throughout the hotel was nicer than usual in a big hotel – the people were very warm.
However, the best part of the Palace, if you are looking for a true East Side stay, is probably its location. Central to UES window-shopping and people-watching, at East 51st and Madison.
(Note that the hotel’s rates can very widely, and are far cheaper over the weekend. I advise you look at a range of dates, and investigate any corporate or group discount offers that apply.)
Bonus: One Very Affordable Hotel I Have Enjoyed And One I’d Like To Try
Sometimes we might want to go to New York but we might want to spend smaller amounts of money. About 10 years ago I traveled to New York on business for a startup, on a budget. I stayed in the Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel, in Chinatown. Rates have risen in the last decade, but they’re still under $300. And don’t undervalue the salutary budget and mood effect of being able to step right out into Chinatown for soup noodles and buns.
Finally, next time I go to New York City I would actually like to stay in Brooklyn. Inspired by an article on Architectural Digest about boutique hotels in the borough, I’m intrigued by the Wythe. And this one.
Four Exemplary Manhattan Restaurants From High-End To Down Home
On to food.
Le Bernardin – 155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
Sue and I had one night during Fashion Week to eat dinner together. I’d just found out that my LDL cholesterol is high, I had a deep desire to act in a financially unrestrained manner, Le Bernardin, New York’s temple of fish, was right down the street. If you go before 6pm it appears you are highly likely to find a seat at the bar, no reservations required.
I had a Manhattan. I mean, one must, right?
On to the amuse-bouche. One of those dishes which make your eyes roll back into your head. A rectangle of watermelon, something replete with umami, and a spicy mélange of I know not what. Oh man. So good.
Tuna carpaccio, with crispy Parma ham. Do not think you know everything there is to know about raw tuna, because you may not.
Striped bass. In a broth. By the end of the evening the broth and several pieces of very happy bread were history.
I ate the fish too.
We had dessert but I was hallucinating from food glory so I don’t remember it. Chocolate?
Three Affordable And Still Delicious Places to Eat
Milk and Hops: 779 Broadway. A West Side beer and cheese place. That happens to make delicious sandwiches which often use cheese but also a lot of vegetables. A San Francisco vibe.
Westville: Several locations. Modern inexpensive comfort food with all kinds of vegetable side dishes, served by cheery millenials. Feels a bit like the food co-op in college? But better food? Very familial.
Cocoran: 61 Delancey St. Excellent soba, served from a small visible kitchen, to diners at long family-style tables. The real deal. The night we were there it was 90 degrees outside and 98 degrees inside when the AC broke. I had my soba cold. Vibe: New York City or somewhere in Asia, on a summer night, when the food rescues you.
And now all I can think is, what new best things will the next trip bring?
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