Monday, September 14, 2009

Hotels with a nice view in NYC

(this is the view from the Hotel on Rivington)

A friend is asking for Manhattan hotels with a nice view in an interesting neighborhood for some visiting Russians.

One note is to tell the friends to wherever they end up staying, ask for a room with a view, because in this tall city most hotels will have some rooms with nice views.

There's that Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner Center right on Central Park, which I assume has Batman views. I've been to the top once for the restaurant, and it was great. That's on the Upper West Side, which is neighborhood-y old New York, has Lincoln Center, Central Park, close to shopping in Midtown....the real NYC deal. Where John Lennon was shot, Rosemary's Baby was filmed, Woody Allen's NYC.

The most fashionable room right now is in a brand new hotel called The Standard, which is one of those open-book designs like they have on the new Arbat, standing on legs---very Moscow, actually. It has incredible views of the Hudson River and the city, and is in a downtown neighborhood called "the Meatpacking District" which was recently revitalized by the speculative architecture of the bubble economy & is now all bars & restaurants and high-end shopping. Cobblestone streets are a sea of partying people at nights. I wouldn't want to live there, but it's pretty cool to visit. And it's basically in the West Village, which is very charming little winding streets and old buildings. Also, there's this new city park called 'the High Line' which has been built on an abandoned elevated train tracks, & the Standard looks out onto that.

Also similar price (maybe less?) and fashionable scene is The Bowery Hotel, which is very tall in a neighborhood of shorter buildings, so probably has the views. This is between the Village, the East Village, and the Lower East Side, which is where I used to live/hang out in the 90s. Sort of grungy/hip neighborhood with lots of bars & thrift store shopping & cute boutiques. Plus lower Broadway is near there that has all the H&M, Old Navy, chain-store stuff, and the world-famous Soho shopping district, which used to be warehouses & then became artists lofts and is now very pricey.

Even further on the Lower East Side is the Hotel on Rivington, which I might not say was in the ideal location for visiting Russians, but I mention it because it's an amazing glass tower--your room will be a glass box overlooking the city, and some of the rooms have balconies. This is where Ivan and I stayed when we flew in from Moscow to get married, but it has that too-cool attitude where the bellhop has a silly mustache and can't answer any of your questions......

Maybe more reasonably priced is the W Hotel in Union Square; it's tall and may have views. (Maybe not though!) This is a W Hotel Chain (you know this chain? Maybe only American) which is like 'packaged creativity', like the Starbucks chain is a faux neighborhood coffee-shop. There's all kinds of silly 'W' 'Wonderland' branding--the concierge is the 'whatever-whenever' desk, which I find maddening-- and the rooms are small & the halls usually dark as a nightclub, but the beds & bedding are awesome. You can stay there and not suffer. The Union Square location is not amazing on its own, but is incredibly central, between downtown and midtown, all the trains stop there, and it does have the city's biggest farmer's market, four days a week. This market is probably my favorite thing in all of New York City.

But anyway, all of this assumes that you can spend at the very least $350 a night.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"It's always cold on Labor Day"

That's what the woman at the Springs Corner Store told me this morning. "It's like nature just knows the summer is over."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One summer of obsessing about the traffic

Okay if you don't drive you won't care, and maybe not all drivers will care, but I can't drive anywhere in the city without obsessing about what the fastest route is going to be. (Hamptons is included in 'city,' for these purposes.) When is the best time to get to the Hamptons?, you ask. Is the traffic that terrible? Do people really sometimes spend 4 hours on the LIE? Does it create a slow death of the soul and ruin the sense of relaxation provided by a weekend at the beach?

Would love to know what others think but so far, I've found that it hasn't been that much of a problem. I'm driving from the Atlantic Ave entrance on the BQE, through Queens to 495, and then picking up 27 from Exit 68, which seems to be the classic way. I have left at 8:15 on a Thursday night and gotten to Amagansett in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Same with leaving at 8:00a.m. on a Sunday morning, to return trip. Last night I left at 8 and stopped for gas, got a traffic ticket and stopped at the 7/11 in Yaphunk (how could I resist?), and it took 2 hours and 45 min. The profile seems to be that there's traffic getting out of the city and around to exit 35 on the LIE, then it's fine, then it takes anywhere from 30 min with no traffic or an hour or more with it once 27 becomes one lane. More often than not city is the real hangup, not the Hamptons, so what you need to consider is almost less the commuter rush to the Hamptons on a Friday, but the ordinary commuter movements of the city.

I say this now, but am sure 27 will be back-to-back all weekend. I have been wanting to go to the Flavin exhibit all summer but haven't made it because it involves driving to Bridgehampton on a weekend. Also, two weekends ago our friend George was unable to even stop for coffee because all the shops were so crowded!