It’s no surprise that New York has many experiences just waiting to be discovered by residents and visitors alike. Of course, many tourists flock to the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock to get a birds-eye view of Manhattan, but there’s an entirely different side of this city once you venture outside of these congested areas and leave the land of lost tourists and cheap souvenir shops behind you.
I have been both a visitor and resident of this amazing city for many years now, and have come to know the extremes of the good, bad and ugly that New York City can produce; yet have also come to appreciate the raw sincerity and wonderful surprises that this city, and its residents, showcase each and everyday. Each neighborhood has its own unique personality, and is sure to be filled with numerous places to escape the chaos of the streets and quietly enjoy the opportunity to be wined and dined by some of the best getaways New York City has to offer.
As with any city around the globe, there are often “must-visit” places to enjoy, but for me, these can often fall into the pretentious luxury category, and completely miss the mark in terms of quality, service and more. I’ve yet to find anyplace that is flawlessly amazing every visit, but these particular food, drink and wellness experiences each offer a unique approach to the city. Enjoy
1 The Ultimate Afternoon Tea: Mandarin Oriental New York. In the case of the Lobby Lounge at the posh Mandarin Oriental New York, the atmosphere, service and amazing views from the 35th floor’s towering windows all come together to create a beautiful way to spend the afternoon high above the always-exciting Columbus Circle. The sweeping views across Central Park and out onto the Upper East Side are simply priceless.
All of the sweet and savory selections are made to perfection, but a few favorites, when available, are the coconut green tea tartlettes and chai-chocolate macaroons. As for the tea, there is no “wrong” selection, but the signature tea is always delicious – Rose of New York, which is a great Ceylon black tea with a hint of floral accents. Time flies by when taking in these views!
2 The Ultimate Hamburger: Minetta Tavern. This tavern has been an institution of Greenwich Village since it opened in 1937. Though has gone through several renovations and chefs through these years, the quintessential village experience has been alive and well each step of the way. Now with Chef Keith McNally involved, it’s often looked at as the perfect combination of a stylish French bistro and authentic New York tavern.
Minetta Tavern is about much more than just the burger, but let’s face it, the Black Label Burger is what has kept this tavern on the map, and is always a favorite for the locals. The atmosphere can be a bit chaotic at times, but the prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and beautifully executed pommes frites make it a Greenwich Village treasure. The burger is worth the price… trust me!
3 The Ultimate Cappuccino: Amorino. With select specialty gelato and coffee shops all over the world, New York is lucky enough to have the only two Amorino locations in the United States. My favorite is among the shops, and oftentimes the street fairs, on University Place. Somewhat unassuming when walking quickly down the street, it’s inside where the magic happens.
I always laugh, as the ordering process is far from efficient and often confusing, but it’s when I settle into my favorite seat in front of the fireplace in the corner that the reason for this afternoon coffee break is realized. The perfect pairings for the cappuccino are the macarons and gelato, but the flower shapes created when ordering a gelato cone is what always wows the guests. Give it a try!
4 The Ultimate Spa Escape: Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Towers. It’s difficult to spend any amount of time in New York without finding yourself at the Waldorf Astoria New York at least once. If not for brunch at Peacock Alley Restaurant, then perhaps even to walk through the lobby going from Park Avenue east to Lexington Avenue to simply take-in the art deco design and the overwhelmingly historic interior. Though the property has been going through a renovation for years now, the Waldorf is always classic New York.
Upstairs among the boutique luxury hotel within a hotel, the Guerlain Spa is on the 19th floor, and part of the super exclusive Waldorf Towers. The entire spa experience here is absolute bliss. Beyond the treatments, you also have access to the gym, amazing views of the city, and the makeup experts for the ladies, who are sure to make you look your best before leaving the spa and venturing out for dinner on the town. If time allows, the three-hour Jet Lag Signature Treatment provides a perfect escape from reality. Relax and unwind!
5 The Ultimate Complete Dining Experience: Eleven Madison Park. Under the direction of Chef Daniel Humm, this restaurant continues to exceed expectations time and time again. As part of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group of properties, Eleven Madison Park is nestled between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South and delivers an extraordinary Manhattan neighborhood restaurant experience.
When stepping into a restaurant like Eleven Madison Park, I always enjoy the tasting menu option where I can sit back and simply savor the culinary creations by talented chefs. Fortunately, this is their specialty! With a focus on the bountiful farm-fresh ingredients from New York and the centuries-old culinary traditions, you can’t help but relish in the mind-blowing creativity and tastes produced by this world-class team. Bon appétit!
Damon’s involvement on multiple levels within the travel, hospitality, business and lifestyle industries allow him to provide a unique perspective as an editorial contributor, freelance journalist and industry expert to a variety of international print publications and online media/news outlets. Visit his website to learn more: http://www.DamonBanks.com