If you don't have time for full weeklong vacation, visiting New York City for a quick 48-hour trip could be the next best thing. The Big Apple remains one of the few places on the planet that can fill up nearly every hour of a two-day excursion and then some. Here are my latest finds during one such fast and furious weekend marathon:
Photo Courtesy of Gild Hall
While several of New York’s oldest glamour and freshly modern hotels sit along Central Park or the Meatpacking district, respectively, few of either type are found in the Financial District. But Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel, tucked along one of Wall Street’s cobblestone alleyways, is one such desirable and rare property. Antler chandeliers, worn leather armchairs, plaid throws and brass finished lamps give the Gild Hall a decidedly English-style masculinity but with proper modern flair (think Ralph Lauren with a dash of Tom Ford). The hotel has a charmed comfort in the way one busy Wall Streeter or harried hip traveler would want. The suites are quite generous. Most rooms feature 12-foot ceilings and handsome, leather headboards custom designed by the hotel’s noted interior designer Jim Walrod.
Photo Courtesy of Fuerza Bruta: WAYRA
"Theatrical experience" is quite an understatement for Fuerza Bruta: WAYRA, a reincarnation of the six-year running show Fuerzabruta. Perhaps explosion, ecstasy or even evocation would be more descriptive words that start with the letter "e" to describe the 80-minute show now running at the Daryl Roth Theater in New York's theater district. Personally, I loved it, but I also love Burning Man, EDM (electronic dance music), and bizarre modern art installations like Rain Room, once held in the city's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). WAYRA may be challenging to some, as there is no seating, no plot, and no stop to the drum thumping, wind tunneling, highly-tactical performance. WAYRA is not silly like Blue Man or classic like Cirque du Soleil, but it is dazzling to anyone with a sensory alacrity.
Photo Courtesy of Sleep No More
Equally exhausting and exhilarating as Fuerza Bruta: Wayra is Sleep No More, a three-hour performance and immersive interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There isn't a program, dialect or intermission, and the entire performance takes place throughout five stories of spooky, film-noir styled space. I was well prepared with my laced up sneakers and a quick review of CliffNotes for Macbeth. This certainly allowed my full immersion into the up-close (one can stand right next to all of the actors as they swirl dismayingly around) and intense performance. Partly panicked, partly obsessed, I could not resist this show's unfolding.
Photo Courtesy of The Monarch Room
Lisle Richards and Eric Marx are an ambitious duo, if not a crazy pair. They opened their first two restaurants in the dead of a chilly winter within 30 days of each other. Crazy, however, would best describe both restaurants' success. I reviewed the American fare favorite, the Wayfarer, just two months ago. On this trip I slipped one night into one of the long brown leather booths at the sultry 1920s-inspired Monarch Room, found inside a nondescript former warehouse in the Meatpacking District. If Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan had wanted a chic concrete parlor for an evening of dining, the Monarch Room would have been their choice. Like the Wayfarer, seafood is the focus here, but so are outstanding cuts of meat and delicate vegetables bursting with unsuspected flavors. My dining companion, a true blood New Yorker, called the meal, "The best I've had in the last 12 months." In short, just go.
Photo Courtesy of Andaz 5th Ave.
A quick and elegant bite, particularly for theatergoers, can be found at the Andaz 5th Avenue's The Shop restaurant. The Shop is a cozy space with seating just for 30 or so, and its street level position allows for a sheltered view of the indefatigable flow of passersby. Despite its petite space, the menu is generous. A stone fruit topped toast is a delectable appetizer, as well as the juicy heirloom tomato burrata salad. I hate to admit it, being from California, but that salad's tomatoes would seriously contend with those from Central Valley. One of the best entrée selections is the Peaches and Cream sweet corn risotto and burger served on a delightfully fluffy brioche bun.
Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Grand Hotel
The best steal for brunch ($26), which includes a four-piece spritely jazz band, is found at Tribeca Grand Hotel. The hotel is indeed grand and features an eight-story atrium that fills the mid-century designed main lounge and lobby area with natural light. Downstairs is a handsome theater, which screens cults, classics, and children’s films weeklong. Sunday brunch is more than generous. Made-to-order plump Belgian waffles, organic pork and veggie sausages, and glistening carved baked ham are a few of the standard hot items. There are also six or so salads available as well as baked goods from tarts to muffins. The whole-wheat cinnamon sticky buns should not be missed. A bonus reason to get up early on Sunday for this brunch? The extra $15 treats: bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Bellinis.