A Wonderful Whirl

By Bonnie Davidson with contribution by Becca Hensley and Beth Weitzman | January 22, 2015 | Articles


Lap of Luxury
Step into the essence of New York City with a stay at Andaz 5th Avenue. Distilling the marriage of quirkiness and sophistication that defines Manhattan, this Tony Chi and Associates-designed hotel occupies a building which once held the largest and last of Rogers, Peet & Co. department stores, before becoming Tommy Hilfiger’s world headquarters. Near Times Square and close to Grand Central Terminal, the contemporary hotel pays homage to prewar New York with historical references. Exposed pipe ceilings suggest the industrial past; sash windows refer to old-time residences; and muted palettes throughout evoke the relative calm of the city right before the dawn of a bustling new day. All 184 sleeping rooms (including 47 suites) vary in size and configuration, but start at 322 square feet. They deliver the feeling of staying over at a stylish friend’s urban loft. Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal New York’s iconic skyline, with buildings, such as The New York Public Library, nearly close enough to touch. Oversize bathrooms are sheathed in travertine marble and boast black porcelain foot tubs to soak shopping-weary feet. Like all Andaz properties, this one’s lobby provides no formal check-in desk. Rather, an associate personally streamlines the process and delivers you to your room. That leaves space in the art-adorned lobby for the Library, a spot with books borrowed from The New York Public Library, free wine and an espresso machine. The Shop, a hip eatery, serves farm-to-table food, and The Bar Downstairs invites social interchange. Internet and a nonalcoholic minibar are complimentary. Overnight rates from $305, @andaz5th

Squared Off
Talk about sense of place. Opened in November, the Hyatt Herald Square New York draws from its location near the Fashion District and Herald Square, once home to two now-defunct newspapers. Both fashion forward and historically aware, the design was creatively conceived by Paul Vega of New York’s VDLG Designs. Using reclaimed wood, concrete and pops of snazzy color—such as bright lipstick pink, and local art—the swank hotel exudes a boutique feel. With 122 rooms, including a penthouse suite on the 18th floor, Hyatt Herald Square also attracts locals who mingle at Up on 20, its rooftop lounge, which flaunts stunning views of the Empire State Building, the surrounding Midtown skyline and the new Freedom Tower. While the lobby, with its 14-foot-high concrete ceiling and wood-bedecked espresso bar, lays the foundation for industrial chic, artistic elements—such as letterpress blocks to specify room numbers and type font, and metaphorical art pieces by Brooklyn artist Ebon Heath—reference the area’s publishing past. Guestrooms flirt with fashion, featuring ceilings painted in swirls to mimic the movement of fabric, custom upholsteries, contrasting textures and armoires, in lieu of traditional closets, to store clothing in a more “presented” and elegant way. Overnight rate from $375, @hyatttweets

Meet Me at the Park
Diagonally across from Carnegie Hall and footsteps from verdant Central Park, Park Hyatt New York occupies the first 25 floors of a 90-story Midtown skyscraper by architect Christian de Portzamparc, with stunning interior design by Yabu Pushelberg. Tastefully furnished guest rooms—there are 210, including 92 premier suites—offer the comfort and sophistication of a New York City pied-a-terre. Starting at 475 square feet and ranging to 530 square feet, standard and deluxe guest rooms are among the largest of any luxury hotel in the city. Bathrooms are also spacious, with soaking tubs, glass-enclosed showers and mirrors with built-in TVs. Fine finishes and thoughtful details are evident throughout, from guest rooms to each of the plush common areas. And, despite its bustling location, the hotel offers an oasis of calm. At the indoor pool, a soundtrack created by Carnegie Hall is played through underwater speakers. Spa Nalai pampers guests in six grand treatment suites, most with private balconies. Fine food and good libations are offered in The Living Room (a lounge and bar) and The Back Room at One57 (an American grill), both helmed by Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault. Museumworthy art (350 pieces in all, including works by Robert Longo, Ellsworth Kelly and Rob Fischer) decorates public spaces, guest rooms and suites. For those traveling with animal companions, the hotel has also partnered with philanthropist and Friends of Finn founder Amanda Hearst on a Very Important Pooch (VIP) program, which offers services (think dog walks and off-site grooming) and amenities catering to the needs of dogs of all sizes (tasty artisan dog treats, loaner dog beds and more). Park Hyatt New York will also donate $100 in honor of each special four-legged guest to show its support for the organization. Overnight rates from $795, @parkhyattny


Bug Appétit
Adventurous foodies are all abuzz about chicatanas (flying black ants), chapulines (grasshoppers) and gusanos de maguey (worms) on the contemporary Mexican menu at The Black Ant (60 Second Ave., @blackantnyc). Executive Chef/partner Mario Hernandez treats nutrient-dense insects like artisanal ingredients, carefully sourcing, cooking and coaxing out their delicate flavors. Nonarthropod menu selections are equally enthralling.

Fire Power
Heirloom zucchini sticks, beer-brined chicken and rabbit meatballs have their fans, but what really draws the young, hip and hungry to Marta (29 E. 29th St., @martamanhattan)—the white-hot newcomer from hospitality guru Danny Meyer and chef Nick Anderer—are the Roman-inspired, potato-chip-thin-crusted pizzas, both classic (mozzarella, basil) and inventive (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, pickled chili, Parmigiano-Reggiano), straight from the wood-fired oven.

Slurp and Tell
The rage is on for Ivan Orkin’s ramen—tangles of handmade rye or whole-wheat noodles in an intense chicken or pork broth, seasoned with garlic, chiles, dashi and other umami-rich things, and dappled with droplets of pork fat. At wildly popular noodle house Ivan Ramen (25 Clinton St., @ivanramen), the slippery, salty, porky carbo-strings are slurped with gusto by even the most well-mannered diners.


Find Your Bliss
The three top floors of a Midtown office building may seem like an unlikely place to relax, restore and renew, but that’s exactly what happens at just-opened Spa Castle Premier 57 (115 E. 57th St., Eighth Floor), a luxurious, adults-only retreat where $65 entitles sybarites to a full-day of state-of-the-art pampering in multiple saunas, soaking pools, lounge areas and a meditation room.

Glide Riverside
As a chilly Hudson River breeze reddens cheeks and the Statue of Liberty keeps watch from her pedestal in New York Harbor, ice skaters at The Rink at Brookfield Place (250 Vesey St.) twirl, arabesque, lutz and, no doubt, take plenty of spills on Lower Manhattan’s slick new 7,150-square-foot waterfront ice rink.

Aerial Greenway
A former elevated freight rail line—abandoned and overgrown with weeds for a quarter century—has been transformed into The High Line (W. 34th to Gansevoort streets, between Tenth & Twelfth avenues, @highlinenyc), the coolest park in the city. Walking along this 1.5-mile trestle 30 feet above street level, you’ll encounter site-specific art installations, native plantings (perennials, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees), artisanal food carts (in season), benches for people-watching and a totally hip vibe.


Acting Out
Equal parts Hitchcock film, Shakespearean tragedy, house of horrors and 1930s-style jazz lounge, Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel, 530 W. 27th St., @sleepnomorenyc) is an immersive theatrical experience populated with characters out of Macbeth. Audience members don masks and wander at their own pace through shadowy rooms in a fictitious hotel, observing all the mysterious, erotic and gruesome goings-on, before tippling with performers and other hotel guests in the cocktail parlor.

Retro Vibes
Harkening back to Harlem’s first renaissance (circa 1920s), Ginny’s Supper Club at Red Rooster Harlem (310 Malcolm X Blvd., @ginnysupperclub) is where sophisticated ladies and dapper gents sip craft cocktails, sample chef Marcus Samuelsson’s soulful food and savor some of the hottest live jazz and Latin music in town.

Kiss the Sky
A sumptuous lounge in the clouds, The Roof at Viceroy New York (124 W. 57th St., 29th Floor, @theroofny) is, literally and figuratively, the crowning glory of a fashionable new Midtown hotel. Brought to you by the nightspot gurus at the Gerber Group, this lofty perch has luxury yacht decor, an outdoor terrace, sweeping Central Park views, DJ music, small-batch spirits, local craft beers and cocktails nearly as magical as the panorama.


Retail Reimagined
The story behind Story (144 Tenth Ave., @thisisstory) began in 2011, when entrepreneur Rachel Shechtman conceived of a magazine-style retail “experience” that would literally reinvent itself—with an all-new concept, interior and merchandise—every four to eight weeks. The result is an ever changing showplace for highly curated fashions, gifts, home decor and accessories.

Fashion Forward
High-tech meets high fashion at Rebecca Minkoff (96 Greene St., @rebeccaminkoff). The designer of bracelets that buzz when you receive a text has tricked out her new Soho flagship with touch screens that shoppers tap to peruse merchandise, select what they’d like to try on and summon a sales person for assistance. Dressing rooms have interactive mirrors and adjustable lights, so you can see how an outfit holds up in bright or dark settings. When it’s time to pay for purchases, simply look for an iPad-carrying employee.

On Trend
From the visionary mind of Rei Kawakubo, designer of Comme des Garçons, comes London import Dover Street Market (160 Lexington Ave., @dsmny), a seven-story mashup of contemporary art gallery, boutique filled with clothing by cutting-edge designers (top names and up-and-comers) and architectural curiosity; it occupies a century-old former school building.


Art of Geometry
Angular fruit, conical landscapes, nudes with triangular breasts and building block heads... these and other intriguing images comprise the 81 masterpieces by painters Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso in Cubism: The Leonard Lauder Collection, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave., @metmuseum) through Feb. 16.

Site of Remembrance
On the sacred ground where close to 3,000 people perished on 9/11, visitors pay their respects to the victims of the World Trade Center terror attacks of 2001 and 1993, view actual artifacts of the fallen Twin Towers, and engage in quiet contemplation and reflection at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (180 Greenwich St., @sept11memorial).

Hot Tickets
Even as a tormented soul trapped inside a freakishly deformed body in The Elephant Man (Booth Theatre, @elephantman), Bradley Cooper is so handsome! Meanwhile, an autistic boy transcends his limitations, warming hearts in the process, in the riveting new drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Barrymore Theatre, @curiousbroadway), and a commitment-phobe bets against his high-rolling rival in the rom-com musical Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander Theatre, @honeymoonbway).


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