New York is always worth a visit!
Out of all the three destinations we had for our trip, New York made my heart jump the most and had me with great the greatest excitement. There is something magical about New York, and it’s truly hard to describe as long as you haven’t experienced it yourself. The city vibes on a different level that stimulates my attention and sparks my inspiration every time I get to visit. I left New York with an open heart, a soul full of creativity, and plans to come back–soon!
When Daniel and I planned our trip to Puerto Rico and couldn’t find any reasonable direct flights, we ended up looking for cities on the way that could serve as a leg and fun weekend in another state at the same time. It was pretty obvious that mostly the southern states (aka Texas, Georgia, Florida) would make the ideal stop-over (which is why we booked a weekend in Austin on the way to Puerto Rico). However, when we noticed that there is always the option to go over NYC, we couldn’t hold ourselves, and the decision was made (although it actually made the trip way longer than if we had flown through Atlanta, for instance). There is something magical about New York, and luckily, Daniel and I share the same passion and awe for the Big Apple. This is why when we looked for hotels to stay at, we didn’t have any discussion on how much we were comfortable spending. New York comes at a price, but it is so unique that it somehow always feels reasonable. Also, part of the fun I have when exploring a city is exactly that: Staying in fun, lovely-designed boutique hotels with––ideally––a great view onto the skylines, an attached bar (or even better: rooftop bar) that saves you the Uber costs at night, and lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and salad stops in the neighborhood. We usually walk a lot in Manhattan anyway, but during our last trips, we were usually far away from the areas we actually walk in the most.
Having said that, we had been to New York several times before. These were–mostly–before I started this blog, so I haven’t talked about them here yet. The first time we went to New York together was in 2015 during our 6-weeks-US trip (the time we both fell in love with the States and decided we would move here one time!). Back then, on a Student Budget, we opted for a motel kind of hotel near Times Square, which you will only do once. The area is just too touristy, flashy–and, last but not least–loud. When we returned to Manhattan the following Christmas, we were lucky to find a charming hotel in Gramercy, a quaint neighborhood known for its laid-back atmosphere. I truly enjoyed spending a full week in the neighborhood steeped in history and would always choose to come back if there was an option or a new hotel that I’d like to check out.
Other times we have booked hotels in Midtown just because of the proximity to Central Park, all relevant trademarks (e.g., Empire State Building and Top of the Rocks) were attractive and convenient simultaneously. I want to highlight the Refinery Hotel, which we scored an amazing deal on when we were in New York for the last time in 2019. With its stunningly-designed rooms, the Wine Happy Hour in the cozy lobby, and its popular rooftop bar, it was hard to beat for our next stay. However, this time around, we were keen to stay in a different part of the city, which is why we specifically looked out for hotels in Chelsea, Greenwich, and Tribeca. Those have gained a reputation as safe, upscale residential neighborhoods and easy access to Lower Manhattan (which is known for its vibey, hip area with lots of popular bars, restaurants, and coffee shops) and to quaint but upscale shopping alleys in Soho, Westvillage and Meatpacking. All areas are less dominated by skyrises but rather by quaint townhouses with fire stairs and brick decorations that we all know from Dawson Creek or Sex and The City. Needless to say that the area is extremely expensive (like everything in Manhattan) but convenient, lovely, and the perfect starting point for a weekend trip to New York for seasoned travelers.
Hotels in New York
No matter in which neighborhood you’re looking for a hotel, you will find many stylish boutique hotels and lovely curated rooms with brass finishes or high-quality amenities in the typical New York style. Most of them, however, are extremely small (we’re talking about some hotels being as small as 12 sqft), and it’s one thing to keep in mind when picking the right spot. Having said that, here are a few hotels that I had my eye on before we visited New York this time around:
The Nolitan – Cool neighborhood hotel in Nolita, known for its dynamic, round-the-clock, and brimming restaurants and bar scene. Ideal to experience life as a local. The Nolitan Hotel also offers a down-to-earth community feel, with complimentary bicycles for its guests and exclusive discounts to neighborhood stores. Click here to book and support me.
Archer – a boutique hotel gem—set under the glow of the Empire State Building in its midtown Manhattan neighborhood. Rising 22 stories, its new industrial elegance evokes the creative soul of its Garment District neighborhood and is just blocks from favorite New York City attractions, including Bryant Park, Times Square, and Theatre District. Click here to book and support me.
The Moore – A new hotel (opened in late 2021) that features a modern, streamlined aesthetic courtesy of designer Vanessa Guilford in New York’s Chelsea district. Two inviting F&B spaces—the lobby’s Café Moore and Moore Wine, a seasonal rooftop destination—are also featured on site. Click here to book and support me.
Freehand – Located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, Freehand New York is housed in the former George Washington Hotel—once home to many storied writers, musicians, and creatives. Designed by Roman and Williams and featuring custom-commissioned artwork by Bard College students and alumni throughout, they revitalize the artistic community in a historic NY neighborhood. Book & support me here.
Kixby Hotel – Intimate boutique hotel experience in the heart of New York City’s vibrant Herald Square, with a rooftop dining concept The Lookup is located on the 12th floor, offering views of the Manhattan skyline and the Empire State Building, the stylish cocktail lounge Lot15 with high top seating and continuous baguettes, and the famous Black Tap (known for burgers and shakes) in house. Book & support me here.
Walker Greenwich Village – The unique design, central downtown Manhattan location, and warm hospitality secure its place as one of the luxury boutique hotels in NYC. Architecture inspired by the Georgian revival towers of New York’s 1920s famed Fifth Avenue, and rich romantic interiors with Art Deco-inspired wall coverings envelope displays of original artwork by emerging local artists. Reminiscent of the early days of Greenwich Village, yet, inspired by today’s vibrant, thriving culture. Book & support me.
We have eventually decided to stay in The Freehand Hotel this time because of its location and its great price for value, but I’ll keep this list anyway because I doubt this was our last visit to the city we love so much.
There is so much to tell about New York, and I wouldn’t know where to begin. I could probably host an entire blog just about New York. Since I am known as a foodie and cocktail lover, and people ask me about my recommendations all the time, I’ll share my latest restaurant finds, coffee shops, and bars with you. If you’re interested, I am happy to dedicate a separate post just about the best bars, breakfast places, or others.
Foodie-Heaven New York
Mel’s – Wood-fired pizza restaurant run by Michelin-decorated Chef Melissa Rodriguez and a more casual counterpart to her fine dining restaurant Al Coro and the cocktail bar Discolo, also in the same space. The restaurant has no gas cooktops; everything from eggplant to branzino to rib-eye is cooked over an open fire.
Cadence – Executive Chef Shenarri Freeman taps into her Virginia upbringing and vegan ethos and serves plant-based soul food.
Katz’s Delicatessen – kosher style delicatessen institution founded in 1903, which has been popular among locals and tourists for its pastrami on rye, considered among New York’s best.
Coffee shops & Bakeries
Maman Coffee, Bakery & Kitchen – French bakery, café, and event space known for its menu of childhood favorites from the South of France and North America. What started as an independent Soho café and bakery is now a leading lifestyle brand that boasts cafés across NYC.
Doughnuttery offers hot, fresh, uniquely sugared mini doughnuts in some of New York’s most iconic food halls and markets.
Death & Co – Flagship location of the popular bar that receives worldwide recognition as a cocktail industry leader and won numerous awards.
Bathtub Gin & Co – A New York institution, a classic 1920s speakeasy imbued by dark woods, damask fabrics, and vintage fittings.
Update 2023: I have meanwhile dedicated an entire blog post about my favorite bars in New York (Manhattan).