New York is one of those cities that you never get tired of exploring. I have been lucky to visit four times over the course of my life and have never had the same holiday twice. The city, like so many others, is constantly changing and evolving which makes visiting so exciting. It’s been at least a decade since my last visit so you can imagine how excited I was to visit again.
A week or two ago I spent whirlwind few days there with my sister Estella and stepdad Tim. The reason for visiting initially was to watch my other half in his band The Pineapple Thief at Sony Hall but it turned into way more than that. Our long weekend became a fiesta of food and a musical extravaganza. We dined in some of New York’s most exciting restaurants, drank cocktails in rooftop bars, watched jazz in one of the oldest and most established music venues, wandered the streets in awe, discovered vintage clothing markets and food pop-ups and got to hang out and drink wine with old friends. Hand on heart it was one of the best long weekends I have had in a long time.
Watching The Pineapple Thief perform in front of a large crowd at Sony Hall was the icing on the cake. I felt very proud of what the band had achieved and their North American, Canadian and Mexican tour has been going from strength to strength ever since.
I wanted to share with you the highlights from my trip so that if you ever find yourself in New York for 3 or 4 days you have plenty of choice of places to visit, things to do and an idea of where is great to stay, eat and drink for all budgets. I hadn’t planned on writing a piece for Tara’s Busy Kitchen originally hence the fact that the photos are a bit haphazard. I didn’t have a fancy pants camera with me and most of the places I visited were either at night or lit by candlelight. I just couldn’t not share my experiences with you all so please forgive me. It was just too darn good not share.
Where To Stay
Beekman Hotel, Downtown
The Beekman Hotel is what I can only describe as my “dream hotel”. What’s more, it was voted New York’s number 1 hotel in the 2019 Conde Nast Traveller and the 8th best hotel in the United States. The decor, the service, the rooms, the food is all second to none. You will find it in lower Manhattan’s New Downtown and nestled between the Hudson and East Rivers. The Beekman is surrounded by some of New York’s most iconic and cherished attractions including the Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Centre and within easy walking distance of the Subway for travel beyond.
The hotel opened its doors in 2016 after renovations restoring the original landmark building and giving it a new lease of life. With rooms starting at approximately $215 dollars a night it is a little bit of luxury that will transport you to another level of satisfaction.
The hotel offers a fitness centre featuring cardio machines, strength training equipment and Pelaton spin bikes as well as two restaurants and a beautiful bar area. There is even a house car that will take you anywhere within a mile radius of the hotel with prior arrangement. What with the stunning decor and amazing amenities you need never leave. You would be perfectly happy!
Estella and I stayed two nights and I can safely say that everything about The Beekman superseded our expectations. I can see why the hotel has been voted the best in New York.
Budget Option – Arlo Hotel, Soho
In contrast to The Beekman, The Arlo Hotel in SoHo has a very modern feel. Simplicity and functionality rule here. The bedrooms are on the small side but the communal spaces make up for that. There is plenty of space to work, hang out and relax. There is even a small outdoor space complete with tables and chairs and two very cosy log cabins that can be used for private dining functions. On our visit, the decor was geared up towards Halloween and thanksgiving with pumpkins, squashes and ornamental cabbages.
Our room was a twin with a terrace. The terrace was the same size as our room again complete with loungers, a table and chairs and some great views out over the city.
The hotel offers its guests a selection of events and workshops which you can book on to and enjoy at your leisure. A great idea if you are travelling alone.
Temple Court – The Beekman Hotel
Estella and I enjoyed a weekend brunch come lunch at Temple Court accompanied by a rather wonderful jazz trio￼. The menu is varied and the service was impeccable. I ordered Skate Almondine which just might have been the most wonderful dish I consumed over the whole long weekend. Estella opted for their tuna salad and to start half a dozen oysters. We finished our meal with their infamous donut holes with a fudge sauce and a delightful apple pie with oat milk ice cream.
There is an extensive wine list and well-stocked bar for those that want to enjoy a glass or two alongside.
I would highly recommend visiting on a weekend when time is on your side. Soak up the ambience made all the more special by the soulful jazz and soft mood lighting.
The price point here is on the expensive side but well worth it. The Beekman Hotel is one special place.Le CouCou
In terms of service, Le CouCou is first-rate. Each member of staff couldn’t have been more welcoming, obliging and knowledgeable. From the moment we entered for an early supper on a busy Saturday evening I just knew Le Cou Cou was a special place.
White table cloths, subtle lighting and polished silver set the scene for the most delightful evening. Despite it being only 6pm the place was full of diners.
The menu is French in style. Think creamy sauces, old school French dishes like Sole Veronique, Filet de beouf and plenty of game. The wine list is exceptional and the sommelier will pair a wine expertly to each course chosen.
I started my meal with a delicious Céléri rémoulade au crabe and finished with Snapper à l’espaniole with carabineros, stuffed squid and tomato. To say it was seriously good would be an understatement. I was blown away. I don’t think at that moment in time it could have been any more perfect.Photo credit Le CouCou
Queensyard was a complete surprise to me in all honesty. The restaurant is situated a few floors up in a shopping mall of all places but it is way more than your average shopping mall dining experience. With views out over the icon Vessel at Hudson Yard you are instantly transported from the fluorescent lights and bustle of the mall to a little haven of joy. Queensyard takes its inspiration from an English country home, although not like any country home I have ever visited and I have been to my fair share let me tell you! It feels modern yet cosy. Two things that I was loving on the rather grey and wet Friday lunchtime my sister, stepdad and I visited.
Lots of velvet soft furnishings sit well against the warm tones of the tables and chairs which create the aforementioned cosiness. The prix fix lunch menu is modern British with a twist and comes in at a very respectable $49 per person for two courses. I enjoyed heirloom beets with a fresh onion custard, ricotta salata and tarragon powder for my starter followed by a dreamy truffle risotto. Between the three of us, we tried to order as many different flavours to sample as much as possible from the pleasing menu. Burrata, scallops and halibut completed our choices. All delicious.
Billing themselves as an Exotic Vegetable Bar, Night Music is a vegan’s dream. Everything on the menu is completely meat and dairy-free and may I add delicious. Taking inspiration from a wonderful array of Indian spices, this modern Indian restaurant packs a punch in the flavour steaks. Estella, Tim and I sampled a selection of the small plates available alongside naan bread, papadum and chutneys.
The place itself is small and dimly lit but I loved it. The service was superb which is customary here in New York. In fact, I didn’t experience bad service anywhere in the city. Every server in every cafe, bar and restaurant seemed so knowledgeable about the ingredients, where it came from and how it was prepared. Something British restaurants could learn from for sure.Photo credit Night Music
Osteria Della Pace
Osteria Della Pace is located at the back of the amazing Eataly, Downtown. An Italian bistro serving traditional dishes in a light, modern setting. The decor might not be what you would expect from a traditional Italian restaurant though. There isn’t a hint of dark wood or a red tablecloth in sight. In fact, it’s far removed from that image. I really liked the simplicity and once again like so many restaurants in New York that are situated a few floors up you get outstanding views across the city.
Estella and I ate simply. A beetroot salad for me and pappardelle with mushrooms and truffles for Estella. We washed it down with a beautiful glass of sparkling Rosé that was recommended by our obliging waiter.
This restaurant is a must-visit if you love Italian food. Plus, it’s nestled amongst an Italian food lovers dream in the guise of Eataly. You really must visit this place to get your fix of pasta, cheeses and just about everything else Italian.
Estella and I were looking for a breakfast spot near our New Downtown hotel that shouted New York. What better choice could there be than a bagel? I had been trying to tick off all the New York essential eats on my trip, you know the kind of thing, pretzels, hot dogs, pancakes? I wasn’t getting very far so between us we googled breakfast spots in the downtown area. Zuckers popped up and I am so glad it did.
With my truffle addiction in full flow at this point, I opted for their special bagel. Truffle cream cheese, mushrooms and scrambled egg encased in a freshly baked sesame bagel. Completely delicious and oh so filling! It kept me going for most of the day!
See A Show
You have to catch a show in New York. It might be a musical, some jazz in one of the iconic jazz bars or a band perhaps? I was lucky enough to visit Village Vanguard for a late-night show. Village Vanguard is one of the oldest jazz venues in the city with a wealth of talent under its belt. Miles Davies, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Mingus amongst others have graced the stage there so it was a pleasure to visit and watch the Javon Jackson Quartet.
Of course, I couldn’t leave this section of the blog without mentioning the main reason I ended up in New York in the first place. Steve’s band The Pineapple Thief were playing Sony Hall and we had AAA passes! Sony Hall is New York’s newest live music venue with state of the art sound and lighting. Sony Hall is located in a space that was once one of New York’s most celebrated venues, previously known as The Diamond Horseshoe. They specialise in live music from all genres.
As expected New York is an expensive city but there are a few places that I found that you don’t need to open your wallet for.
You must walk The High Line. A public space that is way more than your average park. The High Line is built on a disused elevated freight railway line so has great views across the west side of the city. On the walk, you will find amazing artworks, stunning views and gorgeous flora. It’s a great meeting point. In fact it’s where Estella and I met up with Tim on our first morning in the city.The Staten Island Ferry is free of charge passenger ferry that shuttles Staten Island inhabitants back and forth to Manhattan. What makes this 25-minute journey each way so special is the view you get of the Iconic Statue Of Liberty. The ferry is basic with no frills but is worth the hour out f you day fo the view.
The New York Public Library is well worth a visit as it often has free exhibitions. On my visit, there was a J.D Salinger exhibition running as well as a Charles Dickens display. On top all that, the interior of the building is quite spectacular with wonderful frescos on the ceiling and marble everywhere. At Christmas time they have a rather lovely Christmas tree in the entrance hall.
You have to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge whilst visiting New York. As a Sex And The City fan, I felt quite emotional walking across the bridge remembering Steve and Miranda’s reunion! What’s more, is you get some amazing views across the city.
If you are foodie like myself you most certainly won’t go hungry. Check out my restaurant choices above. I would highly recommend visiting Eataly to discover Italian food as you have never had before.
Another recommendation would be Smorgasburg. The largest weekly open-air food market in America. It attracts 20,000+ hungry people over the course of a weekend. Smorgasburg is currently combining forces with another love of mine, vintage clothing. The Brooklyn Flea sits beautifully alongside Smorgasburg in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn. Knock yourself out with amazing proper vintage finds and fabulous street food.
So there you have it. My little guide to a big city. Use it as you will and feel free to add suggestions in the comments for my next visit. Now I have got the New York bug again I can’t wait to return.