By Aaron Boehlert
First things first when it comes to New York: the hotel. New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and it has hotels to match. There are thousands of them, to suit every taste and desire, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t find a deal in New York. At least this was the case for years. Now though, more than ever, hotels try to fill unsold rooms, so book on Travelocity or Expedia; any renowned travel website will offer the best deals. Also, check out the hotels’ websites. You can often find valet, breakfast, spa or gym access for much less than its actual value when booking.
The St. Regis
Okay, I’ll say it: this is the best hotel in New York. Its location, right on 5th and 55th, means it’s only minutes from all the best shopping and not far from museums and shows. Some would prefer the Four Seasons, but you can’t beat that location. Built by the Astor family in 1904 and still housed in its original Beaux-Arts building, it remains a world-renowned address, so quintessentially 5th Ave that movie stars and royalty have stayed there for over a century. There’s Astor Court and Adour by the legendary Alain Ducasse for dining, as well as the King Cole Bar. Superior rooms start at $755 per night so it’s certainly a splurge, but you can’t beat the advantages and novelty of staying there.
The Omni Berkshire
The Omni Berkshire is a solid alternative to any of the more luxurious and renowned hotels on 5th. Located on 52nd between 5th and Madison, it’s mere steps away from great shopping and dining. With modern rooms and a resto-bar, the price is a relative bargain, starting at only $199.
Balthazar serves ‘traditional bistro fare’ for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s in the trendy SoHo neighborhood, and features a room reminiscent of an haute Parisian restaurant. Balthazar bakery is located right next door, which serves espresso and pastries. Balthazar is located on Spring St. between Broadway and Crosby. www.balthazarny.com
ESCA is one of Mario Batali’s lesser restaurants that focuses on fish. Located in Hell’s Kitchen, this smaller, more passionately-run and less pretentious space is flooded with light. Olive oil and wine line the walls, and neat, simple tables and chairs fill the space. The daily crudo – trio of raw fish – is always excellent, as are any of the pastas. Located on 43rd between 9th and 10th; be sure to book ahead. www.esca-nyc.com
The Oak Bar
The Oak Bar, located at the Plaza Hotel, is the only bar in New York that you are obligated to visit at least once. Dark paneling, moody lighting, murals, and one of the best barmen in the world are only a few things that make this bar great. This is the bar of Sinatra. Of Capote, of Gatsby. The best thing about it, though, is the fact that it is all of these things but is still not touristy. This is because the owners of the Oak Bar – and the adjoining Oak Room restaurant – have essentially kept it the same way it has been for generations. www.oakroomny.com