Everything is just classier in the fall—novels, films, fashion, foods—and New York seems to embrace the crunch of leaves and the mood of this time of year better than any other. Autumn remains one of my favorite times of year to stroll in the Big Apple, and there's plenty the city has to offer amid its painted pumpkins and couture jackets. Here are my best finds this season in New York City:
One does not go merely to see Here Lies Love, the off Broadway musical based on the true story of the Filipina First Lady Imedla Marcos, because as the show's website details, "Come Ready to Dance." Similar to other New York City "immersive" theater shows such as Sleep No More and WAYRA, Here Lies Love unfolds between, around and in the audience. Guests are guided by stagehands who usher audience members' movements during the performance.
The all-encompassing 90-minute show is seamlessly exhilarating, weaving Marcos' rise and descent from power into a neon kaleidoscope production complete with a DJ booth, pop-music ballads and a few disco balls for good measure. The heavy, true-life tale of politics, deceit and revolution balance out the otherwise often shiny high-voltage numbers, and the story is both poignant and uplifting. Casting is spot on; the lead, Jaygee Macapugay, is a spitting image of Marcos, whose photos and footage are interlaced in the production. Here Lies Love is only in New York until early January, but it may very well be extended again, due to its massive popularity.
Ideal for pre-show noshing, NIOS restaurant, located just a brief stroll away from the theater district and part of the Kimpton Hotel group, is a smart choice. The wine and cocktail focused venue is attached to the Muse Hotel but stands alone because of its Master Sommelier, Emily Wines (Yes, that’s her actual name). Wines is one of the world's 19 female Master Sommeliers and is Kimpton's Senior Director of its National Beverage Program. NIOS seems like a petite venue for such a food and wine "celebrity," but NIOS is purposely understated, much like Wines. The 12-page menu features fun quotes about the selections and a global array of reds, whites and bubbly beverages. Flights are available for nearly any request and go exceptionally well with the Pre Fixe three-course theater dinner for a mere $45.
Nothing is more enjoyable on a crisp fall day than high tea. The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, is a classic destination for traditional tea and has been since its opening in 1930. Concealed within the opulent halls of The Pierre, the Two E Bar/Lounge (named after its location at 2 East 61st Street), serves a daily afternoon tea. This sumptuous tea includes an array of delicate nibbles such as fresh scones, savory tarts, deviled eggs and mini fruit tarts. The afternoon tea menus are often modified to incorporate a celebration or holiday. While I was in town, the Indian celebration of Diwali was underway. The usual menu goodies were served alongside saffron custard tarts dusted with candied rose petals and cardamom ginger scones. I appreciated the subtle palate-pleasing way to experience one of India's most festive holidays. In addition to daily tea service, the Two E Bar hosts a monthly Chef's Social Club, an intimate "pop up" concept co-hosted by the hotel's Executive Chef and Executive Pastry Chef, Ashfer Biju and Michael Mignano, respectively. The supper club is indeed exclusive, just 10 guests, sometimes all strangers, join the chefs at their intimate table.
Many a street in New York City are known for their aggregation of certain attractions. Madison Avenue is the runway of fashion brands while Wall Street stocks the financial institutions. There's a certain discreet avenue between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, 44th Street, that is home to a multitude of clubs, including the Harvard, Yale and Yacht variety. Tucked among them is the Iroquois Hotel, a property now part of the six operated by Triumph Hotels, all within New York City. Opened in 1900, the Iroquois has a mature Manhattan allure appropriate for Scotch, mink coats and tweed double-breasted jackets. The hotel's Lantern's Keep—found beyond a discreet door past the lobby and elevators—is just the place covert deals and intimate conversation can transpire. The bar's blue velvet seats hold no more than 20 guests who sip Prohibition-era drinks amid dripping candles. So serious is Lantern's Keep about its bartenders and their concoctions, that there are four varieties of ice cubes to choose from and full bios of the bartenders featured on the venue's website.
One of the Iroquois' best assets, besides its classic hospitality, is its incredible location. The hotel is a block away from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade's route where gigantic balloons bump between skyscrapers along 77th Street. A generous Thanksgiving package offered by the Iroquois not only gives guests access to the Wednesday "Balloon Inflation" event, but also includes breakfast to-go and a cozy Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel's dining venue Triomphe. Black Friday deals are also just steps away in Times Square and on Fifth Avenue.