Monday, June 8, 2015


Let's just be honest about something right out of the gate: Midtown is not Manhattan's best neighborhood. It can be incredibly busy, very impersonal and completely overrun by people wearing sneakers—but like, not in a cute way.

For New York residents under the age of say, 50 years old (and visitors too), it would appear that more often than not, Midtown doesn't have much to offer. Sure, it's got the MoMA and access to the southernmost end of Central Park... But what else?

Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to spend a couple of nights and days north of 34th street... And I've had to silence my judgemental assumptions about this rather maligned part of Manhattan. From fancy meals to futuristic hotels, creative outlets and so-touristy-it's-awesome activities, I dare you to give this neighborhood a chance...


Okay, I'll be very honest about something right now: Most likely if you already live in New York, deciding to spend a night in a Midtown hotel isn't going to feel like a luxurious getaway from home. These hotels are meant to provide a wildly affordable place to sleep and stash your stuff, and not much else. If you're visiting and on a budget, however? You'll find that these hotels give you the bare necessities (plus rooftop bars) in sleek, slightly futuristic style. One thing to note, however: If you're traveling with a companion, make sure you're already comfortable with them on a pretty intimate level. The bathrooms in both of the below hotels are integrated into the room, and provide little privacy visually and sonically. 
  • YOTEL—Pretty much everything at the Yotel is easy and automated. You check in at kiosk much like you would at the airport, and you can even have a robot store your luggage if you arrive before check-in. One thing that Yotel has going for it in a big way is the beds—our petite queen room featured a Serta 'Smartbed by Yotel' that functions as a daybed while you're up and about and reclines into a divinely cozy place to sleep at the touch of a button. (And if you're a restless one, you can try their rather amusing art-meets-sleep in-room video, YAWN.) The overall vibe of the Yotel is playful and minimal, and it really makes for a nice respite after a busy day out and about in the city. Plus, if you need a cocktail and a breeze, their fourth floor boasts the largest hotel terrace in the city.
  • CITIZEN M—With 'CanteenM' open 24 hours a day and supplying all kinds of snacks and drinks, Citizen M caters to the all-hours lifestyle of a busy New York visit. The vibe of the lobby is exuberant, art-centric and playful, and the rooms are uniformly petite but strategically designed with plenty of clever storage spots and a minimal, unfussy design. Every room has an XL-King bed wedged into the back of the room with a flat screen mounted above your feet, guaranteeing a cozy corner to take in movies and shows when you need a breather. 

CENTRAL PARK ON WHEELS: If you're staying at the Yotel, you can book a bike for the day for just $3 and pick it up at the Bike & Roll on 43rd and 12th Avenue. Strap a picnic onto the back, get a helmet, and cruise up to the park. Seek out a serene patch of grass under a leafy tree and while away the afternoon on your own schedule. 

FIVESTORY: Located off Madison Avenue (at 69th street) and close to Central Park, this is an epic, multi-brand store that lives in a glorious townhouse. Fivestory the holy grail of upscale uptown shopping for those who are looking for something a little more off-beat than Barney's. So chic it kind of hurts, and a can't-miss if you're looking for a reason to brag to your friends at home that New York really does have the best shopping in the world.

BEMELMAN'S BAR: Like Fivestory, Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle Hotel is perhaps technically part of the Upper East Side. However, if you're making a day of it with a picnic in the park and some serious shopping, why not wind down your evening at one of the most iconic and elegant bars in the city? Live jazz, perfect Old Fashioneds and those famous Ludwig Bemelman murals make for a seriously sophisticated, classic New York cocktail moment.

TERMINAL 5: In New York, it's easy to become a snob about concert venues, especially if you have relatively good taste in music that extends beyond arena-level performers. Terminal 5 is not an ideal venue, and there's no way around it—but some of the best concerts I've ever been to have happened there: St. Lucia, Lord Huron, Hot Chip... The list goes on. There's no better city to live in if you love live music, and this midtown venue always has epic artists on the calendar. 

THE CIRCLE LINE: Before you roll your eyes, hear me out on this one! It's one thing to look at a map of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx. You get a general idea of how the city looks—but seeing it from all angles, from the water? With a breeze in your hair and a (secret) glass of rosé in hand? That's something entirely different. Grab a chair on the deck and let your Circle Line captain regale you with fun facts about Roosevelt Island and fancy buildings you never knew existed. Splurge for the full circle cruise that makes a complete loop around the island of Manhattan— what else do you have to do? It's touristy, it's often crowded and it's awesome (unless it rains), trust me.

SCREENINGS IN BRYANT PARK: Outdoor movie screenings pop up all over New York's boroughs in the summer months, the most well-known of them being smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. Grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and head to the lawn and grab a patch of grass under the stars (and skyscrapers, natch) to take in classics like Ghostbusters, Footloose and Back to the Future.

THE PAINTING LOUNGE: They say everyone has an inner artist. Well, maybe they don't but at The Painting Lounge you can absolutely pretend you're a budding Picasso. Drink wine while an instructor leads you and your class in creating a painting that you can take home and treasure forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but your roommates will probably be mildly impressed that you semi-successfully painted a sunset and skyline or your own interpretation of Van Gogh's Night Cafe...

TESSA: If you need a little quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of true Midtown West, jaunt north to the Upper West Side for a Mediterranean feast at Tessa. If you can make it up there on a Sunday, you can get a bottle of rosé for $19. Cheers to that!

PRO TIP: Navigating the heart of Manhattan isn't always easy, and it doesn't always make sense to take the subway, especially if you're going across town. I've been using a new carpool platform called VIA to zip around to happy hours, appointments and parties. Rides in luxury SUVs are just $5 anywhere between 110th Street and 14th Street in Manhattan—so you can feel a little luxurious, get to know a stranger and save some major cash at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. This is the best function room in the city. The food they served at best party hotel nyc was warm, fresh and tasty, and the panoramic window is a sight to behold on a clear day. Their main hall was similar to a club/lounge – however, it had more of an intimate feel.