New York City is my favorite weekend getaway from just about any East Coast location. If you plan out a few weeks, flights are typically inexpensive and there is always something to do - rain or shine - but this fall, traveling just after Thanksgiving when all the decorations go up for the holidays, is a perfect time to go.
I recently curated a great trip to New York where we combined Brooklyn with exploration of downtown Manhattan. I typically stay in midtown just south of Central Park (The Quin is a favorite) but this new home base was a welcomed change.
Where to Stay - The Beekman Hotel
We used The Beekman Hotel as our base. Full of history, the site itself debuted Shakespere's Hamlet in 1761 and the current building, known as Temple Court was one of Manhattan's first skyscrapers. It was finished the same year as the Brooklyn Bridge.
The mosaic marble entrance feels like you have stepped back in time into the golden age of travel. This history, and the two-year careful renovation, make this hotel the opposite of all the clean white nondescript "luxury" hotels. Sit in the wonderful bar to fully appreciate the sense of glamour. The heart of the building is the nine-story atrium capped with a pyramidal skylight.
Rooms are small but filled with character. Each room is slightly different filled with vintage furnishings and curated art work and each has a craft cocktail table to round out the sheek Mad Men vibe.
The location is great. Subway access is just a few steps away. You are just a block from City Hall and two blocks from the redeveloped World Trade Center area and 911 Memorial. Also in this area is the second outpost of the touristy, but fantastic-none-the-less, Eataly. We found ourselves walking over for breakfast in the morning.
What to Do
If you haven't been to the 911 Memorial you should make the effort to go. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance online because the queue to buy them onsite can be long - especially in the cold. While we all remember the tragic events of that day, the memorial provides context and timelines that give you incredible insight into what happened.
Photo Credit: Amy Dreher
I have fallen in love with Context Travel. They say they are tours for the "Intellectually curious traveler." All of their guides have either a PhD or Masters Degree in the particular subject for the tour - that translates into remarkable insight and discussions. Any question you can think of they are likely to have a compelling answer. They offer a Brooklyn Walking Tour that includes the Brooklyn Bridge which would be fantastic. Their selection of art tours is also compelling - everything from narrow focused themes in the big museums or great small gallery guides including Williamsburg.
Also part of the redevelopment downtown is the Oculus Transportation Hub with its nearly $4 billion price tag. It is really a remarkable design and houses the Westfield World Trade Center shopping complex. I am typically not a mall shopper, especially in New York, but this is worth a look - particularly on a cold or rainy day. Some of my favorite shops from around the world all have a store here.
There is so much great Art in New York City you have to pick and choose wisely if you only have a weekend. Staying downtown gives you the chance to explore some smaller galleries or the New Museum but there are some terrific exhibits happening at the major museums this Fall.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will welcome the David Hockney exhibition on Nov 27 straight from the Tate Britain in London where it was the fastest selling exhibition in the museum's history and then the Met Breuer will house an exhibition on Edvard Munch opening November 15 featuring 45 of the artists landmark compositions.
Photo Credit: Dear Evan Hanson Media Images
There are so many notable shows to experience on Broadway this fall. While you can no longer see Ben Platt in Dear Even Hanson (Final performance Nov 19), his replacement Noah Galvin will take the role until January 2018. The show won six tony awards this year including best musical and best actor.
Hottest ticket now is likely to be Springsteen on Broadway which will run until February 2018. With just 960 seats, the venue is the smallest Springsteen has played on in 40 years.
Steve Martin makes his Broadway debut with Meteor Shower staring Amy Schumer but reviews have suggested that Martin's fame is what is driving the hype rather than the script. Another celebrity, Uma Thurman, stars in The Parisian Woman written by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child comes to Broadway in Spring 2018. Seven members of the West End company will perform in the Broadway premier.
As far as dinner, so many options for yummy asian food. I'm still a huge fan of Momofuku Noodle Bar (East Village) and their delicious pork buns. I also would argue that Ippudo (East Village), the ramen and pork bun haven, remains one of the best values in New York. Chinatown is not far from The Beekman hotel and last time I was there the concierge recommended Joe's Shanghai for soup dumplings but personally I can rarely say no to Ramen.
But if you are staying in this area of town, the real exploration should be to Brooklyn. Top on my list would be Lila. Chef Missy Robins' passion and attention to detail with handmade pasta is notable. (Listen to her talk about her career on Serious Eats). Also notable is Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, a three Michelin star communal counter seat restaurant (Reservations open on Monday at 10:30 a.m. four weeks out from reservation date). Finally, Ichiran Ramen, the new outpost of one of the most sought-after ramen restaurants in Japan has opened in Brooklyn but many are balking at the cost claiming the same bowl goes for half the price in Japan or Hong Kong.
Two other Lower East Side spots worth noting. Dirt Candy is a vegetarian restaurant that is on every list of “must try” in New York City. Chef Cohen has made eating only veg as satisfying as any meal you have ever had. This is a great place for brunch because after 12:45 it slows down and you can often get a walk-in space. Also great is Dirty French is classic french food with a twist located in the Ludlow Hotel (also a fantastic place to stay - especially if you can grab the Ludlow Double Loft room if you are a family traveling with kids)
You can reinvent a weekend to New York a hundred times and still not scratch the surface of the city. At The Curatour, we have access to special relationships for show tickets, behind-the-scenes offerings, VIP status at many of the best hotels. Reach out to us to help plan your next NYC weekend.