My husband and I have traveled many places around the world with my in-laws, from scuba diving the Turks and Caicos Islands to shopping for antique carpets in Istanbul and yet my mother-in-law has lived more than 75 years without ever visiting New York City. To celebrate her birthday I thought it was high time I take her to the Big Apple.
We flew in on a Sunday afternoon to avoid the heavy weekday traffic and settled into our room at the iconic Park Lane Hotel. I wanted her to experience the luxuries of Midtown Manhattan without breaking the bank. Once the grand Hemsley Hotel, Park Lane is beginning to show its age, but the rooms are large and I was able to book us on the 25th floor overlooking Central Park at half the price of The Plaza next door.
“My favorite book growing up was Eloise at The Plaza. I figured if we can’t afford to stay there, we can at least walk over for breakfast; which is exactly what we did the next morning.”
The hotel’s elegant Palm Court is always a buzz with famous faces. The Plaza also has the most adorable all pink Eloise boutique as well as an underground oasis of gourmet counter-style dining options called the Todd English Food Hall.
We spent our first full day fantasy shopping 5th Avenue. We had fun trying on rings at Tiffany & Co worth a quarter of a million dollars and drooling over the new Gucci spring handbags before grabbing lunch at the fashionable 7th floor café inside Bergdorf Goodman. We later enjoyed a makeover at Bloomingdales and then walked to the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, peeked inside Radio City Music Hall and lit a candle in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I’d say it was a good first day showing off the city.
On our way to dinner we stopped for cocktails at the Baccarat Hotel. Tucked away at the end of their Grand Salon is a 1920’s Paris style lounge with a black and white checkered floor and a barrel vaulted ceiling with three Baccarat crystal chandeliers that took our breath away. The largest chandelier, worth an estimated $1 million, features rare red crystals that match the color of the walls and hangs over a 60 foot long bar.
From there we went to the famous Polo Bar Restaurant, with its posh hunting lodge décor and equestrian motifs. The Ralph Lauren owned establishment is quintessentially New York and was packed with beautiful people. We were escorted downstairs in an elevator and seated at a cozy corner booth with buckskin leather banquettes where we dined on a wonderful rib-eye steak from the Lauren’s Colorado cattle ranch.
“The next day started with a cab ride to SOHO for a late breakfast at Balthazar, my favorite French brasserie outside of Paris.”
We both enjoyed a Bloody Mary and delicious Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon while mapping out the day. We spent time shopping some of the small boutiques and checking out the new Nest Fragrance store before making our way over to the Flatiron District to peruse all six floors of ABC Carpet and Home. I’m always inspired by their innovative interior design, rugs and furnishings. Across the street is Fishs Eddy, another favorite store full of whimsical dishes, kitchenware and gifts. A friend told me about a lovely little French bakery called Maman where we stopped in for cappuccino and shared a delicious almond croissant before heading back to the hotel to dress for dinner. Later we met up with some friends at Freemans, a quaint American style tavern that literally sits at the end of an alley on the lower east side in the Bowery.
Our last day came too soon with so much of the Big Apple left to bite into and just not enough time. I thought to myself, “We didn’t walk the High Line, eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz, tour the Statue of Liberty or climb the Empire State Building. We didn’t visit the 911 Memorial or even see the new Vessel sculpture at Hudson Yards.” I did however take her to see a musical. I think walking through the lights of Times Square and seeing a hit show on Broadway was actually her favorite part of the trip. After breakfast at the famous Sarabeth’s we took our last morning stroll through Central Park before heading to the airport, knowing we had many reasons to return.