New Ways to Savor New York

written by | Posted on April 30th, 2013

Accommodations at Hotel Americano in Chelsea.

Truth be told, we don’t do enough U.S. city-focused onsites at Recommend. So in 2013, we decided to change that up a bit and offer a few first-hand accounts of some of our own backyard’s most magnetic cities.

For example, take a look back to March 2013, where you can read the “Hard Rock” Chicago-Style: Rock Out in the Windy City story, and then look out for an onsite on San Francisco—
where we are headed for a stay at one of the city’s Kimpton properties—in an upcoming issue. We’re on it, and we’d love to hear what you have to say about these new U.S. city-focused
features (drop our editor an e-mail at paloma@recommend.com).

For now, here’s New York, and you’ll see we’re in a hipster state of mind.

“New York City is always evolving and changing,” says Christopher Heywood, senior v.p. of communications for NYC & Company. “There is a unique magnetism about New York. People come here from all over the world because they feel at home.”

Last year, the city, in fact, welcomed 52 million visitors, 80 percent of which were domestic, and plans on hitting the 55 million mark by 2015, Heywood says. With the variety of neighborhoods in Manhattan alone—not to mention those other boroughs that seem to be more and more on travelers’ radars—coupled with the wide range of restaurants and hotels, the options for places to explore are endless.

grupo habita’s NYC property

If you are familiar with the uber-modern and hip Mexican hotel brand Grupo Habita you’ll understand why NYC was the city of choice for its first hotel outside Mexico, Hotel Americano.

This is the group’s 11th property, and general manager Marco Cilia says, “it was time to look outside Mexico and certainly there is no better place than New York.” It doesn’t hurt either that the group’s owners, Moises Micha and Carlos Couturier, have both spent time living in the city.

Opened in 2011 in Chelsea, the hotel’s design focuses on “a colder and industrial exterior that resembles the area, coupled with a warmer interior design (all of the furniture is from France, Italy and Brazil) and hospitality,” says Cilia.

The 56-room hotel is set in a former parking garage and is perfectly suited to the rest of the neighborhood’s creative vibe, even winning the ARTRAVEL “City Hotel” award this year for its design. The interior is also a showstopper—designed by Arnaud Montigny, who also designed Paris’ boutique hotspot Colette.

“Hotel Americano attracts a creative clientele of all ages and nationalities, generally interested or somehow connected to the worlds of art, design and fashion,” Cilia explains. “The hotel is certainly a home-away-from-home for South Americans and

Europeans due to the hotel’s Latino atmosphere and hospitality.”

Rooms, which tend to be on the small side—this is New York, after all—offer views of uptown or downtown and feature barely-off-the-ground beds cozying up to minimalist furniture, as well as modern luxuries such as iPads featuring playlists and hotel recommendations, to Loden Dager-designed denim bathrobes and Aesop bath products. Looking for arm candy or forgot your musical instrument at home? Nestled into the minibar along with the usual liquor and pistachios, are items like a bracelet, harmonica and candle.

That handy in-room iPad can also be used to order room service, which like the rest of the hotel, is not the typical menu of standard fare. Guests can order breakfast, lunch or dinner bento boxes, or stop by the restaurant downstairs, The Americano, for Latino cuisine with French flavors. The restaurant, which always seems to draw a crowd day and night, features dishes such as foie gras terrine and Berkshire pork served in the main dining room or outdoor patio.

Guests looking to explore Chelsea like a local can pick up one of the hotel’s bikes out front and take it for a spin around town, or take a walk on the nearby High Line, an elevated park built on an old freight rail line that features areas for picnicking and sunbathing; views of the area’s street art; and events such as stargazing and free guided walking tours. The area is also home to Chelsea Market filled with bakeries and restaurants like Amy’s Bread and Morimoto. Average room rates are $320 per night for an Uptown Queen; $325 for a Downtown King; and $540 for an Uptown Studio.

hotel options beyond manhattan

For clients who don’t want to plunk all their money on the hotel room, Heywood says to tell them to venture into one of the other boroughs besides Manhattan, which can offer room rates at 20 to 30 percent less, in some cases. In fact, since 2006, 42 percent of the hotels opening in the city have been in the boroughs, according to NYC & Company. These properties, stresses Heywood, are also ideal for repeat visitors, as they offer something different, where guests can “live like a local at a better price point.”

Of course, speak of boroughs outside Manhattan and the hipsters immediately think of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which is, in fact, home to the 64-room King & Grove Williamsburg,
owned by the same folks who lay claim over the Tides South Beach in Miami.

It offers rooms with bamboo flooring, warm oak cabinetry and well-appointed marble bathrooms, and some come with balconies overlooking the outdoor pool. There’s also a rooftop lounge and a restaurant, which as of press time was set to open in the spring.

In the Bronx, meanwhile, the 60-room boutique Bronx Opera House Hotel is opening in June in the Beaux Arts building that was once the Bronx Opera House in South Bronx. And in Long Island City in Queens, which is only one subway stop from Manhattan, the boutique Z NYC Hotel offers a Jazz Age vibe complemented by a modern industrialist chicness. The hotel provides free transportation to and from Manhattan; is dog-friendly; and offers complimentary bikes for guest use, as well as stunning views of Manhattan just across the East River.

upcoming highlights

  • Grand Central Terminal celebrates its centennial this year with events such as free lectures, exhibits and parades.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, begins its 7-day cruises this month from Manhattan to Bermuda.
  • Starting this month, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will be open to the public seven days a week, and starting July 1, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will also be open seven days a week. Adding to the neighborhood’s elegant vibe, in 2014 the 114-guestroom Baccarat Hotel & Residences will be opening across from the MoMA. Accommodations will include 26 suites, and visitors will have lots of amenities to keep them busy such as the Baccarat Spa, an indoor pool and fitness center, and a bar and restaurant at street level.
  • The Statue of Liberty, which closed after Hurricane Sandy, is set to re-open on July 4.
  • In 2015, Staten Island will also give travelers a reason to leave Manhattan when the world’s tallest Ferris wheel—the New York Wheel—and a retail complex open. The wheel, at 625 ft., beats out the Singapore Flyer and London Eye, and each of its 36 capsules can hold up to 40 passengers.

package it

Travelers heading to New York City who want the ease of a tour can choose from a variety of packages with Monograms Independent Travel. For example, the 6-day New York Extended Getaway, which starts at $1,239 pp without air, takes travelers sightseeing throughout the city; includes access to attractions with the New York Pass; and features tickets to a Broadway show.

“New York City offers foodies, art and theater enthusiasts, history buffs, culture gurus, shopping aficionados and more a perfect vacation getaway,” says Steve Born, v.p. of marketing for Globus family of brands. “Whether travelers are looking for a quick getaway, a family vacation or a girlfriend’s gathering, New York is the ideal location, thanks to easy access and the amount of experiences the city affords. That’s why New York City is our most popular U.S. destination for Monograms.”

a taste of europe

Travelers seeking a Greek- or Roman-style bath can turn to the streets of New York with Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca. While New York City is filled to the brim with day spas and fabulous hotel spas (like the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at The Plaza), Aire offers a quiet respite from the quick-paced New York City way of life.

Housed inside a former textile factory dating to 1883, the 3-story spa is set on a side street in Tribeca. The space has a romantic feel, with lanterns offering dim lighting and natural teas and freshly made organic juices for guests. Aire is also a more intimate experience since the spa limits the number of visitors to only 20 people at a time, so your client will never feel like the spa is too crowded or rushed.

Guests can choose a 90-minute bath treatment in either the warm-water pool; hot-water pool; one of the cold-water pools; propeller jet bath; or salt water pool. The thermal sessions can also be combined with a massage, which varies depending on the time your client chooses and whether they would like a 2- or 4-handed treatment.

city eats

While out and about, recommend your clients head to Jean-Gorges Vongerichten’s organic hotspot abc kitchen in Gramercy. The whole wheat pizzas here will make anyone give in to carbs with options like the mushroom, parmesan, oregano and farm egg pizza. The menu features organic and local ingredients, and there’s even a rooftop garden that grows the herbs used.

For brunch, the SoHo neighborhood is home to Jack’s Wife Freda. Mouthwatering dishes include rosewater waffles with Lebanese yogurt, strawberries and honey syrup, as well as the smoked paprika egg salad sandwich. And don’t forget to try the cantaloupe mimosa. It is brunch, after all!

In Williamsburg, one of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods, Roberta’s offers some of the best pizza in town, but tell your clients that the wait is never under two hours.

Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
High-End Stays Stateside (February 2013)

contact information
Baccarat Hotels & Resorts
: baccarathotels.com
Bronx Opera House Hotel: operahousehotel.com
Hotel Americano
: (212) 216-0000; hotel-americano.com
King & Grove Williamsburg: (718) 218-7500; kingandgrove.com
Monograms: (866) 270-9841; monograms.com or agents.globusfamily.com
NYC & Company: nycgo.com or nycandcompany.org/traveltrade
Z NYC Hotel: (212) 319-7000; zhotelny.com