Archive for the Hot Places Category

Living in Clinton – West 55th Street

Posted in Hot Places on October 29, 2011 by Bright Lights

Central Park - Southwest Corner - Midtown West

For the past 12 years, I have lived in Manhattan.  For the past four years, I have lived happily in Clinton on West 55th Street, and I cannot express how surprisingly positive the experience has been.  West 55th Street between 8th & 9th Avenue is the best block in Clinton.  It is the only block in the neighborhood that is 100% residential which makes it a calm oasis and an escape from the hustle and bustle.

West 55th Street - Between 8th & 9th Avenue

Everyday, I walk to and from work which is located in Midtown on the east side.  In the summer, while my co-workers emerge from the subway sweating bullets from the horrible underground humidity, I am able to arrive at work cool as a cucumber from my leisurely walk across town.  Sometimes, I don’t step on the subway for over a month which not only keeps me cool but also saves a lot of money on transportation.  During the summer, I often walk past Rockefeller Center where the Today Show is being filmed.

Bruce Springsteen Performing - Today Show

From free concerts (James Taylor, Maroon 5, Cold Play, Sting) to interviews with celebrities, everyday is something fun and interesting.  Not to mention the fact that walking nearly 2 miles a day keeps you feeling healthy, especially on weeks when you can’t make it to the gym.

Kristin Davis - Today Show - Rockefeller Center

Living near the Theater District is special treat for anyone who enjoys Broadway shows.  No longer is it a huge project to swing by TKTS or even going straight to the box office to buy tickets.  Instead, one can just have a serendipitous night of dinner and a show on short notice.  The same can be said for shows at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, Roseland Ballroom and New York City Center.

Lincoln Center - Midsummer Night Swing

My apartment on West 55th Street makes for easy access to go running and biking Central Park.  While my building has a bike room, there is so much price competition in this area that bike rentals can be very inexpensive.  For instance, Liberty Bicycles at 55th and 9th Avenue offers bike rentals at just $6 per hour.  And for those that want to eat healthly, lets not forget about Whole Foods located conveniently at Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

View of Central Park - Time Warner Center

For those that like to get out of the City on a regular basis, Midtown West is walking distance to major transportation centers like Port Authority and Penn Station.  But also, if you are a car owner, Midtown West offers some of the most reasonable prices for parking garages.  I currently pay just $280 per month for an indoor 24/7 garage whereas most garages in Manhattan are closer to $500 per month.

9 Restaurant - 53rd & 9th Ave

Some of New York’s finest restaurants are located in Midtown, and I am able to walk to all of them.  From Per Se to Nobu 57, I can easily pop in for a late dinner with no reservation necessary.  In addition to fine dining, Midtown West is tops for casual dining options as far as diversity and affordability.  Ninth Avenue is restaurant after restaurant with every ethnic cuisine you could want.  Thai, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Afghan Kebab, Ethiopian, Brazilian, and Indian food are all available for your nightly dinners.

Southern Hospitality (9th Ave) - Owned by Justin Timberlake

In conclusion, living in Midtown West can be a wonderful experience because of the tremendous access that it affords its residents.  From walking to work to walking to nightlife and entertainment, Midtown West allows one to live a truly green lifestyle.  There is something to be said for being close to everything.  It’s easy to go Uptown, it’s easy to go downtown, and crosstown is walkable.  If you are looking for a new lease on life, try Midtown West.  I’m sure you will love it.

Just A Dream. Downtown

Posted in Hot Places on July 26, 2011 by Bright Lights

For those of you who are looking to beat the heat, you may want to avoid the Dream Downtown’s rooftop pool bar.  For I am afraid the scene is red hot.  On June 13th, Vikram Chatwal unveiled his latest creation, Dream Downtown.

While New York’s elite are probably summering in the Hamptons, Dream Downtown has slowly but surely been building some well deserved buzz.  The pool area has the feel of an oasis with plush landscaping and also has a separate sandy beach area for those who like to feel the sand between their toes.

In addition, the pool has portholes on its floor which see straight through to the lobby below.

The Dream’s modern build-out and interesting decor create an ambiance that is reminiscent of South Beach.  Spend 5 minutes in this hotel, and you will start to wish you were better looking.  Once you get past the self loathing, you will realize that there is no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  The pool is packed with beautiful people, and the bar menu serves plenty of cool and interesting drinks.  Don’t let the summer end without taking the plunge.  Dream Downtown is located at 335 West 16th Street, New York, NY.

Bright Lights, Big City.

High Marks for the High Line

Posted in Bars, Hot Places on June 10, 2011 by Bright Lights

Wednesday was the hotly anticipated opening of the second section of the High Line, which added more than 10 extra blocks to the elevated park.  The addition runs from 20th to 30th street along 10th ave, which actually doubles the existing park. But, perhaps the best addition is the Lot at 30th Street, which is a temporary public plaza underneath the northern entrance to the park and includes the new Colicchio & Sons “Lot on Tap” beer garden.

This new beer garden boasts domestic wines, non-alcoholic sodas and local beers – even featuring a beer made exclusively for Lot on Tap by the Brooklyn Brewery, called Brooklyn High Line Elevated Wheat.  Drink prices are enough to keep away your alcoholic Uncle Charlie, but just right for New York’s young and fabulous with a beer costing $7 and wine $9.

You can tell that the Lot wants to keep the historical feel of the High Line as the Lot on Tap bar is flanked by the original girders of the High Line and both bars and some benchs and tables are actually made out of the original High Line beams that were removed during the building of the park.

Along with the drinks, the Lot on 30th has a rotating series of food trucks, including lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster, dumplings from Rickshaw, and ice cream sandwiches from CoolHaus.

Additionally, next to the Lot on Tap there is an open area currently housing “Rainbow City” presented by AOL that is an open area filled in with colorful, inflatable balloons and moon bounces.

Rainbow City

The lot will be open seven days a week with food and drink available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

After having a few brews, head out and enjoy the newest section of the High Line.   Don’t be surprised if someone with a robotic voice starts giving you life advice while you are at the drinking fountains.  Thats right, the drinking fountains talk as a sound piece of public art by Julianne Swartz called “Digital Empathy.”  Its gonna be a hot summer, so be sure to stay hydrated.  And who doesn’t like some free advice while they sip from a fountain?

Sweet Lights.  Sweet City.

Gotta Go To Yo

Posted in Hot Places on May 5, 2011 by Bright Lights

Last night was the official launch party for Yotel New York.  For those of you who have never heard of Yotel, its a hotel brand from the UK which draws its inspiration from first class airline travel and Japanese capsule hotels.  I had the opportunity to tour the hotel and its amenities at the launch party, and I was nothing short of impressed.

First of all, Yotel’s decor, while ultra modern, has an informality about it which is welcoming.  From the moment that you enter the hotel to an area they call Ground Control and see the Yobot (a robot to store your luggage before check-in or after check-out), you are having fun.

After checking in at a kiosk, much like an airline kiosk, you take an elevator to the 4th Floor to an area they refer to as Mission Control.  The friendly staff will make you feel at home with their informal, yet stylish dress of jeans and white button down shirts.  With all this talk of Ground and Mission Control, you will be tempted to ask for Major Tom and I’m sure they won’t mind.

The 4th Floor houses most of the hotel’s entertainment options including the Dohyo Restaurant, The Club Lounge and Bar, private lounge cabins, and a terrace bar.  Yotel has one of the largest, if not the largest, outdoor terraces of all New York City hotels.  Note that all food and beverage service is provided by the renowned restaurateur Richard Sandoval who is the genius behind restaurants like Pampano, Zengo and Maya. He also is behind Pampano Taqueria which I wrote about last year.

I was both surprised and delighted to see that the rooms of Yotel do not seem cramped.  Technically, they are on the smaller side, but their efficiency and high quality finishes more than make up for the lost space.  According to Yotel, the average hotel room cost in New York City is $250 a night, and they are offering their cabins starting at $150 a night.  As you take a closer look at the room, you find that it has many interesting and useful features that other more expensive hotel chains do not have.  For instance, the bed can adjust to sit up (like British Airways first class) or it can be completely horizontal like a typical bed.  In addition, there are built in reading lamps over the bed and the bathroom has a heated towel rack.

The launch party included a truly inspirational speech by Simon Woodroffe where he discussed how and why he started the Yo! brand and Yotel in particular.  He talked about when he started the Yo! Sushi brand and how market research was useless when there is not an existing market for the product you are selling.

Woodroffe joked “how could I prove that people would enjoy eating sushi from a conveyor belt and drinks served by a robot when it had never been done before.”  I had the opportunity to speak with Woodroffe after his presentation, and he talked about how people are more likely to regret not taking risks to follow their dreams than they are to look back and say ‘i’m sorry I took that risk.’  He followed it up by talking about how the statistics of entrepreneurship don’t give the entire picture.  He spoke of how you can’t just look at the success ratio in a vacuum.  “How many of these people end up succeeding on their second go-around because they had the guts to follow their dreams?”

Yotel New York has done a marvelous job building out their hotel.  Rooms are expected to open to the public on June 1, 2011.

Several years ago, I flew first class on a business trip to London.  The first class flight experience was unique and exciting.  I believe that Yotel has captured that same essence and travelers to New York will soon be going out of their way to stay there.  With affordable prices, a high level of service, and a fun atmosphere, Yotel is a win, win, win.

Yotel New York is located at 510 Tenth Avenue in Manhattan.

Bright Lights, Big City.

Pied a terre in Meatpacking Anyone?

Posted in Hot Places on July 12, 2010 by Bright Lights

Someday I will leave New York City.  Well, as a residence, not necessarily in spirit.  Further, I may continue to work in New York City long after I cease to reside here.  I have often thought about owning a pied a terre so that I can spend some weekends here.  But owning property in New York City is a huge headache, not to mention expensive.  To be honest, staying a hotel at $250 – $350 a night is probably still less expensive than owning if you only come in on weekends and if you take into account other expenses like utilities, cable TV, and internet.

If all you need is a clean place to lay your head, in a location that is convenient to dining and nightlife, then the answer may be the Jane Hotel.  The Jane Hotel has rooms starting at just $99, but what they lack in space they make up for in character.

The Jane Hotel is located at 113 Jane Street, just a few blocks away from the heart of the Meatpacking District.  The hotel has swanky 20’s style bar/lounge as well as a cafe in the lobby.  For $99, you get a great deal but you don’t get a private bathroom.  Instead, there is a communal bathroom on every floor that is very clean and inviting.

Jane Lounge

The Jane Hotel may not be a great fit for those that are high maintenance or if you like to spend hours in the bathroom getting ready.  But if you are looking for a way to spend more time in NYC without the headaches of driving, parking, and paying top dollar for a room that you are barely in, then this could be the answer for you.  You should note that the Jane Hotel also has larger rooms available for more money, so its not like you can only stay in a shoebox.  That said, someday I may to call that shoebox my home away from home.

Bright Lights, Big City.

Hotel Clerk