A while ago, when I was looking for a quote for our Luxe Luck Instagram page, I came across this quote
and it made me sit back and think. I like many love spending – not shopping – but spending. My bank balance of course doesn’t like it and neither does my partner or Dad (my theory here is as I still carry his name, I still own his bank balance). However, this spending does not make me richer in any form. Don’t get me wrong, I have a penchant for the finer goods in life and I get so much joy out of them, but indeed they do not make my life richer (although it might look fairly rich from the outside).
So I thought back to the recent trips that I have taken with my other half, D and I pulled out my phone and had a wee look and soon I found myself an hour later absorbed in photos and memories of the last trip we took to the big apple, aka New York City.
Everyone that knows me, knows I love New York City. My heart is very much there. My first trip was on 16th February 2001 (madness that I just remembered the date), before tragedy hit and I was lucky enough at the time to visit at WTC. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but when I really fell in love was December 2013 on my first trip back in nearly 10 years which sparked a life time relationship which would see us travel back every year to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the New York Streets.
Looking through my current phone however, the photos that are on there is our last trip from Labor Day weekend last year. Labor Day in the US celebrates the American worker and also marks the end of summer with a big weekend. Since December 2013, we have stayed each hotel we have stayed in has been amazing, each offering something different.
However, none of them over the years top The New York Edition Hotel just at Madison Square Park. From the minute you arrive to the second you leave, this hotel has got it right 100%!
The Edition worked with Le Labo to create their signature scent and it hits you as soon as you walk in, no matter how late it is. From the candles lighting the lobby and bar to Stevie Wonder blessing your ear drums, it is a hotel that literally makes you exhale when you walk in. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
Check in was smooth and we were guided up to the 17th floor where we were welcomed again by the scent but also by a massive room with huge wardrobe, a separate seating area with a table, sofa and bench and a huge bed on the other side of the room. The bathroom was well lit and to my delight they had a little standalone make up mirror that I could move over to the table by the window to do my make up in natural light! Yaaaassss Edition Hotel!
As we normally do, we checked in, dropped our bags and headed out to dinner. The Edition Hotel is Madison Avenue with the entry on 24th from what I recall. Before we travel, I always do a whole heap of research on where we want to eat. Apart from two places, we will always try new places every time we are there. For dinner we headed towards Union Square to 5 Napkin Burger as I had read they do amazing tuna burgers and with D and I not being red meat eaters, this was one of the things we were looking for. By the time we got down there it was near 10pm and so the restaurant wasn’t busy at all.
We got back to the hotel just after midnight. Being only 10 blocks or so from the hotel, we walked. It’s our main mode of transport when we are in NYC – walking apart from at night when either our friends will be driving or we cab it.
When I tell you we had the best night sleep – oh wow! The beds are like massive pillows where the mattress engulfs you and in the heat and grime of NYC, the welcome but silence of the aircon – woooo hooo!!
The next day, D wanted to head to his favourite place ever – Century21 (my ultimate nightmare, I like spending, not shopping remember!).
We took a leisurely walk through Noho, Soho, Canal Street, Tribeca down to his heaven. Across from Century21 is the WTC memorial. At the time, they had just built and opened the new shopping centre. I still get quite thoughtful and emotional (maybe that’s not the right word) around that area, so we didn’t venture but it is a spectacular building and definitely worth a visit.
Century21 is a whole day affair if you want to get it right and do it just the once. Think TKMaxx on a much much bigger scale. The same craziness of everything all over the place and millions of people milling around – especially on the ground floor where the accessories are. If you see a bag you think you want, but are not sure – grab it! You can always put it down later. On the ground floor, they have a small section where they sell pre-loved bags and luxury accessories. This is where you will find me. From vintage Louis Vuitton in impeccable condition to latest season (but still pre-loved) Chanel pieces. Being in the US, you are not going to pick up a bargain here. I’m not sure whether its consignment or whether it’s owned stock, but the US have import tax added on top of what we would pay over here as they are European brands. Keep that in mind when you are shopping – anything European will be more expensive and that includes Zara! Regardless, I do have a good look to see if there are is a little bargain here or there and as yet have come up with nothing. Alas, the touch and feel of my beloved designer bags, especially vintage, when the craftsmanship was out of this world is nothing short of orgasmic for me.
As is tradition with us, we headed back up the road to Church Street to this little pub that does the best nachos anywhere (no I’m not lying). After a day of walking and burning the gazillions of calories, these nachos are totally worth it. Standing a good 20cm tall from the plate (yep) these loaded nachos come with lashings of cheese, guac, sour cream and beans. I think you can add meat too which we never do. The first time we went, we ordered a side of chicken strips and the waitress asked us if we were sure we wanted the strips as the nachos were massive. We didn’t believe her and ermmmm let’s just say we didn’t repeat the mistake this time round! As I was looking for the website, I’ve just found out they’ve closed down. Gutted!
After a bag weighed leisurely walk back to the hotel we enjoyed a night out celebrating a friend’s birthday over very traditional Trinidadian roti and bake and shark at Pearls in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you are a little adventurous on the food front, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. The cocktails are lethal but oh so yum too with what I’m sure is the typical two finger measure of rum as a base.
Day 2 saw us walk uptown to Barneys. This is the day we would have our beloved Halal Guys for lunch. I should have made it clear earlier, that our trips and direction of walking on the day is always based around where we ultimately want to eat! Halal Guys is an NYC institution! One thing that always seems to surprise me, is the number of street vendors in the city. It’s not something we are used to seeing her in London, unless it’s at the various food markets. I always said I wouldn’t eat from street vendors because I’m not convinced that I wouldn’t die from food poisoning. Well that all changed the day I read about Halal Guys. These guys have two carts, both on 53rd Street & 6th Avenue, one on either side of the avenue. I’m not sure what time they open, but from midday, there is a queue at least 50 deep waiting for the little foil tray of red rice, falafel/lamb/chicken, the softest arabic bread with chilli sauce and their famous white sauce (which we have no idea of what it is). This white sauce is the secret to their success. Check out their Instagram and I guarantee you will be enticed to try. Be warned; the chilli sauce is hot hot hot! Be careful not to fall for the fakery that is trying to take from them. These guys are only on 53rd & 6th.
I digress, back to Barneys we go. With my love of all things clean and luxury. Again I remind you that they cost of European brands are a premium, but alas let me not lie and pretend I didn’t walk out of there with a gorgeous little Saint Laurent number.
After we stand in the later afternoon queue for Halal Guys and grab our food to share, we hail and jump in a yellow cab back downtown to the hotel. Every time I stand an hail a cab in NYC I feel like the coolest person in the world. That feeling soon dissipates as soon as we get in and it’s a usual stinky, dirty medallion. Don’t let me take the magic away from you though because you have to do it. Do not go all the way to NYC and Uber the whole time you are there. Like here, the yellow cabs are more expensive than Ubers or town cars – also don’t forget to tip a customary 20% if you don’t want to be left half out the cab before they speed off pissed off (yes I have seen it happen). The majority of cab drivers are lovely and will give you guidance if you have any questions. Do figure out where you are going in terms of uptown or downtown and get on the right avenue with the traffic going in the same direction. Trust me – this will save you time and a lot of dollar dollar bills ya’ll (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Dinner out that night was at Catch NYC. Now this is my absolute favourite restaurant in the city and without fail we will find ourselves there every trip. I normally book around a month out from when I know we are going, just to ensure we don’t end up with the earliest table of the night, knocking any chance of celeb spotting when we are there. Best nights to do Catch is midweek, Mon – Weds I would say. The crowd is chic and trendy (is that a thing?) and dripping in designer. It is the ultimate of #livingmybestlife #luxuryliving and all other hashtags that social media influencers living their best lives use today. We started going 3 years ago after I booked a table for D’s 40th dinner with his friends. If you go there, order the lobster mac and cream and the Hit Me Dessert…. oooh it is special!
Day 3 – you guessed it! More walking, shopping and eating. This time, I dragged D across the Brooklyn Bridge but not before we headed to Norma’s for brunch and the famous Nutella filled pancakes and a long long long walk down via Sephora, Ulta and every other beauty store and Bloomingdales Soho. D’s never walked the Bridge before and he loved it. The bridge gives you the view of Brooklyn, Statue of Liberty and Manhattan – all for free! What more could you ask for.
That night we were invited to a party at Jay Z’s 40/40 Club and as luck would have it, it was 3 minute walk from the hotel. It was a private party so we were shown around the club, the private rooms etc. It was a fun night, but the best part of the night was getting back to the hotel. As we walked in we pressed the elevator “ipad” for our floor. The tablet then tells you what lift to stand at – it was lift A. There was someone standing in front of us and he was having a good old time dancing to Stevie Wonder that was blaring out of the speakers. Proper bopping! D thought he was cool so started dancing behind him – slightly taking the piss, but also slightly enjoying the vibe of the guy. The life arrives and he gets in as do we. D says to him, so you enjoy Stevie Wonder do ya? And he responds yes I do. Then as I turn to say me too I then catch a glimpse and say oh it’s you and he says oh may be it is me! It’s only Kevin Spacey!! Best celeb spot (and we are sharing a hotel and lift with him!) Anyways we say we are from London, he says its his second home and he loves it and then we say nice to meet you, he shakes hands and we get off whilst he heads up to the 30th floor.
The next day we took a walk up to Central Park by walking up 5th Avenue. From the hotel it’s a good 26th block walk uptown to the entrance and the park spans another 50 blocks up (of course we didn’t walk that much), but we had a good walk around and enjoyed the gentle breeze of the trees and the random skaters, boarders and children laughter in little bursts. This was succeeded by a trip to the Plaza foodcourt – yes you heard me right. The Plaza hotel has a foodcourt, but don’t think shopping centre foodcourt (although I am partial to the Westfield London one), think fancy restaurants all huddled together with bar seating – and lobster rolls! This is the one and only reason I convince D to go here every time we are in NY. The freshly made lobster drizzled with a warm garlic butter in a squidgy baked brioche bun. Oh take me back now!!! Don’t underestimate the fact that you can guzzle (inhale) one (two or three) of these things in less than a minute given the fact they melt as soon as they hit your mouth. And with that, I will leave you with the taste of NYC lingering in your mind as you Google Luke’s Lobster!