I know the Christmas break just finished, but I could use a little getaway. Spending a couple of days driving around to see family isn’t really a vacation, know what I mean?
Hear you loud and clear. Plus, if you don’t make some sort of plan now, you could end up hibernating until April.
Good point. So where should I go? I don’t want to take much more time off and I’m kind of broke after all that Boxing Day shopping … I mean buying gifts for all of my loved ones.
Two words: New York!
As in the city? Um, that doesn’t exactly scream “cheap” to me.
It’s just for a weekend. And, budget-wise, January is one of the best times to visit the Big Apple. A trio of deals – collectively dubbed NYC Winter Outing – are here to help with your wallet pain. The three offers are: NYC Restaurant Week (with three-course dinners starting at US$42), NYC Broadway Week (featuring 2-for-1 tickets) and NYC Must-See Week (with buy-one-get-one admission offers for some of the city’s top attractions). Put them all together, and you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best experiences New York has on offer for a lot less than usual. Sure it’s going to be a bit chilly, but so is back home; nycgo.com/nyc-winter-outing.
I’m guessing there is some fine print I need to know about.
Indeed, there is. The savings period is from Jan. 21 to Feb. 10 (Feb. 8 for Restaurant Week). Booking starts in advance though, on Jan. 9. Set a calendar reminder now to nab the best shows and reservation times. For more information, visit nycgo.com/nyc-winter-outing.
About that Broadway promotion … are any popular shows actually included?
Listen, you’re not about to get a free ticket to Hamilton, but plenty of big musicals are taking part, including Dear Evan Hansen, Come from Away, Frozen, Kinky Boots, Mean Girls and My Fair Lady.
That’s great. What about restaurants?
With 365 eateries already confirmed, it would take far too long to go through them all, but needless to say, some nights out at big names are up for grabs.
And which attractions are on the list? Stuffing my face and singing show tunes sound great, but I should probably consume a bit of culture before I hunker down for three months of Netflix bingeing.
That’s very noble of you. You and a friend or loved one can stimulate your brain cells for less at an array of institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim, and with guided tours at the United Nations and Carnegie Hall. That’s just a handful of the 57 Must-See Week participants listed so far.
If what you’re dying to see isn’t on the list, check out the CityPass at $126 for an adult ticket, which offers entrance to six attractions at up to 42 per cent off, depending which ones you pick. Or, if you want a less jam-packed schedule, try the digital-only C3 pass, which gives you three sights for $83; citypass.com/new-york.
What if I decide to take the children?
Even after you spoiled them rotten at Christmas? You must be going for Parent of the Year. Some of the top NYC Must-See Week family-friendly diversions are National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, the Rink at Rockefeller Plaza, the Bronx Zoo and Yankee Stadium Tours. Both CityPass and C3 offer reduced child rates.
Wait, you’re right. The kids can spend the weekend taking selfies on their new iPhones at home. I need to refresh and regroup with some “me time” after the holiday chaos.
Good call. Try a soothing spa escape at the Four Seasons Downtown. Gift yourself a luxury green caviar facial or a purifying mud ritual from Hungarian skincare-line Omorovicza. Or book a glam session at Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa at the Loews Regency New York Hotel. Nothing makes you feel put-together like a bouncy blowout and a fresh mani. And great hair and hands aren’t just for ladies, FYI.
Noted! Okay, I’m excited to book but I have one final question.
Going back to Hamilton, is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
It really is. Sure, the concept – a hip-hop musical about a founding father – sounds like something out of The Simpsons, but you’ll be won over by the second song. Even if – somehow – the score doesn’t move you, the ingenuity of the set and the sheer physicality of the performances won’t fail to wow. And, with all the money you’re going to save elsewhere, you might even be able to afford last-minute resale tickets. Or, plan a second New York trip for later in the year: Seats are on sale now for May 21-Nov. 10. Don’t give away your shot. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)
The writer visited some attractions as a guest of NYC & Company. It did not review or approve this article.
Where to stay
Note: All room rates effective for Jan. 18-Jan. 20, at time of publication.
For the young (and young at heart): Moxy NYC Times Square
Located just steps from Madison Square Garden, this is where to stay when you want to be in the heart of the action. The fun starts the moment you enter the lobby, which often doubles as an informal play area. As song lyrics by the Beatles flash by on wall screens, guests shriek as oversized block towers come tumbling down (think Jenga, but with blocks the size of your thigh). A quiet business hotel, this is not. Designed to appeal to a more youthful clientele, the result is an escape that, oddly, suits both families and a more party-focused adult crowd. Parents will love the unconventional queen/twin loft rooms, which come with a queen and a bunk bed, while the twin quad rooms – which sleep four in individual bunks – will appeal to groups of friends. (If you’ve got a snorer, check the DIY supply cupboard for ear plugs, as well as extra towels and other sundries.) A second-floor lounge area is full of comfy, low-slung sofas and foosball tables (depending on the hour, a DJ might be spinning in the corner) and food options include dinner at Legasea, a large seafood brasserie, and breakfast at Egghead. If the kids still need to unwind a bit before bedtime, this is the place to do it. But older night owls will want to tire themselves out at Magic Hour, the year-round rooftop playground that is home to a circus-themed bar, a slightly risqué mini-golf course (dubbed Fore Play), naughty bear topiary and a carousel (but with booths and bottle service instead of antique wooden horses). When it’s finally time for shuteye, pick up the in-room phone to hear some bedtime stories. Most are PG, but parents might want to take a listen first, just in case. This is New York, after all. Rooms from US$136; moxy-hotels.marriott.com/nyc/timessquare.
For the celebrity seeker: Mondrian Park Avenue
New York is one of the few places where you stand a good chance of spotting a celebrity simply while walking down the street. But should you wish to increase your chances – or live the A-list life yourself for a couple of days – book into the Mondrian Park Avenue. The luxury brand is a favourite of stars at its five global locations, and the name alone should tip you off that you’re in 1-per-cent territory: This is prime real estate, in the centre of the NoMad neighbourhood and within easy walking distance of Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, the Chrysler Building and several other New York landmarks. The 189 guest rooms have much more personality than you often find at five-star properties – no surprise, as Philippe Starck is responsible for their look. Colourful pillows, a Roy Lichtenstein-inspired dresser and numerous framed works of art bring pops of fun and playfulness into the small but efficient rooms. (Mirrors above the bed and in the wardrobe space help bring a brightness to the space and make it feel larger.) Of course, you won’t see any stars hanging out in your bed, so try to score yourself a table in the 2,000-square-foot basement club, Yours Truly, which boasts a “discreet” entrance for the who’s who. Or just find an excuse to loiter in the lobby where you might see Jamie Foxx, for example, waiting for his ride. Rooms from US$235; morganshotelgroup.com/mondrian.
For the eco-conscious: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge will wow those passionate about the environment and design. The interiors are stunning – a sophisticated composition of natural materials wrapped with floor-to-ceiling windows. The massive living green wall in the airy lobby sets the tone for what to expect in each of the 194 guest rooms. Whereas many hotel suites these days are a more glam version of current home trends, these spaces are like nothing even your rich, cutting-edge neighbours are doing. A tower of excavated bald cypress from Florida holds large bottles of toiletries (no single-use minis here) in a marble-lined shower, along with a small five-minute hourglass timer so you can monitor your water use. You won’t find plastic bottles on your bedside table, but rather an inset tap near the front door dispensing filtered drinking water; and instead of flimsy disposable slippers, warm your feet in thick, comfy socks you can take home. A sprouting of moss grows on a stand of reclaimed wood, a metal grate lets light shine through to the washing area and leather hooks, and canvas baskets provide storage. It’s industrial chic that somehow manages to be cozy. The best part has to be the large windows offering spectacular views of Manhattan across the East River. You may be tempted never to leave the room, but get out to explore the cool-but-not-hipster neighbourhood and stroll along the paths of the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park. Rooms from US$367; 1hotels.com.
For the sybarite: The Four Seasons Downtown
When one is need of pampering – of feeling absolutely spoiled – a Four Seasons always delivers. This Manhattan outpost lives up to the reputation. The atmosphere throughout – as envisioned by design firm Yabu Pushelberg – is understated opulence; luxe without being garish. The 189 guest rooms predominately draw from a soothing palette of neutrals – beiges and light browns – accented with touches of soft blues; bathrooms are decked out in grey marble. When you come home after a busy day of sightseeing, you’ll find slippers by your bed and your cords tidied up with a Four Seasons-branded cord organizer. And while the little touches add up, it’s the more blatant extravagances that make for a grand experience. Start the day with room-service breakfast. It will most likely be the most expensive morning spread you’ve ever encountered, but if you can afford the room, what’s an extra $100 for a completely over-the-top repast, really? Take advantage of the prime location to explore sights and neighbourhoods such as the 9/11 Memorial, Battery Park, One World Observatory and the spectacular Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center. Or, spend an afternoon at the 23-metre lap pool or unwind with a decadent treatment at the spa. And then, if you’re a meat lover, go full-out at in-house CUT by Wolfgang Puck, where an ounce of Japanese wagyu steak will set you back US$25 an ounce. The minimum order is six ounces. But you only live once, right? Rooms from US$568; fourseasons.com/newyorkdowntown/.
– Domini Clark
For couples: Hotel 50 Bowery NYC
If New York is made for lovers, then the Lower East Side is made for those lovers consumed by the feverish curiosity and unbridled passion of young lust. Instagram-friendly boutiques, artisanal cafés, faux-dive bars and real dive bars – the LES is a few square miles of millennial catnip. And it is at the heart of this grit-meets-hip hotspot right on the edge of Chinatown, where the San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre firm decided to erect its first boutique hotel in Manhattan. Housed in a neon-blue-lit, glass-windowed building that aims for inconspicuous but hits the hipster bull’s-eye, 50 Bowery screams both high style and down-and-dirty romps. Rooms come equipped with of-the-moment Edison light bulbs and concrete pillars, plus aphrodisiacal Pollack-meets-Peking art and Jonathan Adler toiletries. Hidden in the property’s corners are all manner of nods to its Chinatown roots, from lantern-esque lighting in the hallways to a retro phone booth outfitted with a pagoda-like thatch, and his-and-her bathrobes emblazoned with fierce-looking dragons. The cultural homages sit just on the border of cute and cloying, but the attention to detail and commitment to theme ensure everything is in good, affectionate taste. It is difficult to visit the Lower East Side and not be tempted by the restaurants within walking distance, but the ground-floor Rice & Gold offers a solid reason to stay in. Most of its menu riffs on the area’s dominant cuisine – mapo tofu dumplings, duck spring rolls – but don’t discount the breakfast room service. Even the most hardened hipster-skeptic will warm to one of the best versions of avocado toast ever assembled. Rooms from US$171; jdvhotels.com.
– Barry Hertz
The writers stayed as guests of the hotels or paid a reduced rate. The hotels did not review or approve this article.