Some people have a distinct, streamlined fashion/lifestyle personality. Their brand is a MOOD, and does not radically change. Oscar de la Renta is classic, romantic, chic. Balmain is edgy, sexy, cool.
I, myself, can’t help but to vacillate somewhere between the twin poles of the classic/cool spectrum.
Sometimes I want to wear my black Armani Exchange (p)leather pants and a shirt which reveals 87% of my cleavage and try a weird yet trendy lip color and pretend I intimately know the discography of obscure DJ duos from Helsinki.
Rarely (but occasionally) I want to wear a Burberry plaid headband and rose-hued Tod’s loafers and commit to regularly moisturizing with La Mer, and basically channel the f out of Olivia Palermo.
More often than not, I eschew tradition and tend to gravitate toward somewhere with an innovative vibe, populated with, say, Damien Hirst sculptures and molecular gastronomy experiments.
However, there is something irresistible about a tried-and-true standby. Places which can truly be described as timeless, presenting the kind of marble-and-gold moments which take your breath away.
If you’re like me, and can never quite choose between being a Bianca Jagger or a Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, take a look at the two NYC itineraries I put together and treat yourself to a hodgepodge of activities from both:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.”
Recently, I stayed at the SoHo Grand Hotel downtown. I was hardly there, between running to business meetings and running on spin bikes. Given how much I was out and about, I didn’t particularly feel like Uber-ing to dinner once I was back, so I ate the majority of my meals at the hotel. The dining area was an elegant yet relaxed kind of cool, the type of place where you could wear a silk Valentino blouse and pearls or Alexander Wang overalls and ugly-cute shoes* and equally feel like you blend in.
[Look at this kid! My Aquarius twin]
I had the grilled radicchio salad with Meyer lemon and pomegranate seeds for dinner multiple times. It was fresh and interesting, and didn’t make me feel like I was undo-ing all of my hard work. The salt-baked celery root with barley, chanterelle and carrot was a little bland for my taste, but equally as virtuous. Conversely, the not-so-saintly vanilla bean gelato sundae with peanut brittle, caramel corn, loose peanuts, and chocolate sauce was the bomb punto com, and I had it twice! #wincingemoji (Though to be fair, I only had bites and not the entire thing…)
The rooms at the SoHo Grand were trendy in a minimalist, kind of utilitarian way, similar to the Ace Hotel. This surprised me, given the sumptuousness of the common spaces.
I much preferred my room at The Standard, High Line which resembled a cozy ship’s cabin, and had a giant soaking tub with a jaw-dropping view of the city. The Standard gave me a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe room, while the SoHo Grand did not, which obviously impacted my experience of the latter, in a positive manner. Weeks later, I am still dreaming of The Standard’s wood paneled interior and nautical vibes, complete with luxury bathing moments.
[~In this California King bed~…I was writing a blog]
I didn’t have time to take advantage of the Standard’s famous restaurant/club scene (and beware, if you’re into sound sleep, that Le Bain was definitely bumping past 3AM!), but I did manage to take a walk on the High Line one chilly morning. I walked about 15-20 blocks north, and then walked back, stopping at some cool galleries along the way. I’d also really wanted to check out the new Whitney Museum building, as it is next door to the hotel, but the line was 2 hours long and I’m not about that waiting game. #nexttime
[Seasons of love, as seen from my floor to ceiling window]
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . . A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
Perhaps the most quintessential New York stay for me is a night or two at the Waldorf Astoria. Conveniently located in Midtown, it is an Art Deco gem which has stood the test of time, with old-school flourishes like white gloved bellmen and Ferragamo amenities.
[You have bewitched me, body and soul]
They almost always upgrade me, which is appreciated! ❤ But even the standard rooms are cute and luxe in an old-timey way, like visiting the house of Mr. Rochester. It isn’t an Abu Dhabi sultan level of splendor; i.e. it’s not unusual for the pipes to rattle or for the shower to look a little worn. But it’s a glamorous kind of decay, I promise.
When the current building opened in 1931, it was the tallest and largest hotel in the world. Marilyn Monroe lived there for awhile, every recent U.S. President has stayed there, and countless weddings/parties/galas have rancorously blossomed within its halls.
Whether one is walking past the classic clock, and then heading upstairs to watch the snow fall from inside of your shabby-chic abode vis-à-vis windows overlooking St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, or retreating from the seductive pull of the July summer sun, the Waldorf Astoria feels like the ideal setting for an iconic love story.
“We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; our dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if we could only arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”
Even though I feel like I’ve already written about it ad nauseum (do you just want to hire me to be your Head of PR? Seriously!), I am obsessed with Monster Cycle in SoHo. To date, I have yet to experience a cooler workout in NYC, plus they have amazing merch. Don’t miss it if/when you’re there.
That said, I ran out of Monster Cycle credits on my last trip to Manhattan, so I ended up doing a few classes at Revolve Cycle by Union Square to satiate my spin needs. Overall, Revolve is a solid pick for a Classpass-comped cycling experience. The studio itself lacks the strong brand identity and overall premium experience of a Soulcycle, Monster Cycle, or Flywheel. But the instructors are consistently good, and it is easy to get to, given its location. One of the classes I took was a Jay-Z vs. Beyonce ride, which I would particularly recommend!
[Note, if you want to try out Classpass, which includes Monster and Revolve, sign up HERE using my link and we both get $20 off our next month which is like one free class! If you specifically want to try Flywheel, enjoy a free ride on me by signing up HERE <3]
“Your mind is your servant, your body is your vehicle, and your soul is your residence.”
If you want to shift your workout experience from the cool to the classic, I would absolutely suggest taking the Chill Yoga class at the exhale spa. I would particularly recommend the UES location, as it is in the same building as the Madison Avenue outpost of the Gagosian Gallery, so you can get your fix of both mindfulness and modern art in one fell swoop. Also, it is notably bigger than the exhale spa in Flatiron.
[Cooling down amidst an Urs Fischer installation]
My particular Chill Yoga class was populated with size 0 Park Avenue moms who appeared bleached, blanched, and Botoxed to perfection. For some reason, the exhale spa attracts the most type-A people (both students and instructors), and can sometimes feel a little hostile. I swear, I have been in some classes where you could cut the egos and tension with a(n) (impeccably serrated) knife.
Given that, I was a little wary walking in-late nonetheless-but the teacher, Stefanie E., immediately put me at ease. Stefanie looked just like a tattoo-ed identical twin of Gabrielle Bernstein, and exuded the same spiritual-chic vibe. She guided us through a very gentle, yet liberating and empowering, series of yin poses and breathing exercises. We used props like bolsters and cozy blankets, and modifications were provided for all levels. It was one of the most relaxing experiences in recent memory, and I left feeling excited to return as soon as possible.
“As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.”
To be frank, I am struggling to come up with a “cool” recommendation for exploring NYC because I don’t really engage in cool night time activities on the reg anymore. I’ve been clubbing at PhD, GoldBar, Mr. H, Provocateur, etc. infinite times, and would recommend them all. But night life isn’t really my thing these days…At least not on a regular basis. I will always love the occasional excuse to wear a plunging new dress and contour my face until I am 63% more attractive than normal, then grind my ass against an investment banker at his table while a remix of “Hot In Herre” plays**. But that kind of thing is no longer my reality.
Lately, I would rather share an amazing meal with friends or family and talk for hours, or go to bed early so I can wake up for double workouts, in lieu of crushing down 7 vodka sodas and arising to assess a plethora of embarrassing texts. Maybe it’s lame, but it’s who I am today.
“Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning–either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again.”
That said, my classic NYC recommendation is a place which I will always (!!!) love exploring, regardless of my age or blood alcohol concentration.
As I was checking out of my hotel the other day, a group of sexy Brits were asking the concierge what to do. They were planning to go on a Hudson River cruise, which seemed like a lame plan for a coterie of hot, foreign betches.
“Go to Jack’s Wife Freda for brunch and then go to the Met and take Instas at the Temple of Dendur, the Anna Wintour Costume Institute, and the rooftop!!!”, I interrupted***. As sensible women are bound to do, they canceled their plans with the concierge and followed my recommended itinerary.
[All I care about is owning a Robe à la Française, and like 5 other Marie Antoinette inspired items]
Whether or not you go there with social media aspirations, or just a keen sense for the beautiful and unreal, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a classic New York institution which cannot be missed. I have been going regularly since I was a little girl, and each time, I come away with new appreciation and insights.
“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
*Or, if you’re me, Forever21 yoga pants tucked into Pour la Victoire leather boots with a tee shirt you stole from your mom and a BCBG blazer to attempt to pull it somewhat together. #traveluniform #lazy.
***Of course, every wing is amazing, including the more traditional arts, but I felt like those particular sections would be germane to the demographic.