Winter Weekend in NYC
After a long hiatus, I am happy to start blogging again! I haven’t blogged since the start of the pandemic, but I am super happy to start this again, and blog about my personal travels and experiences.
My name is Cali Stein and I am a Luxury Travel Consultant with my own agency called Cali Stein Travel. I know that is not the most clever name, but I don’t use my personal business name so much and just use my host agency’s name which is, Embark Beyond. I am excited to give some recommendations for a winter weekend in New York City. Because my husband had a three-day weekend, and I like to take advantage of his days off, we decided to have a little staycation in Manhattan and check out some luxury hotels and experiences.
Part of our staycation included going ice skating in Rockefeller Center. I grew up right here in New
York City, in Queens, and lived in Manhattan for a while before the pandemic. My husband grew up on Long Island, so we are both native New Yorkers, but neither of us had ver been ice skating in Rockefeller Center before. It is such an extremely touristy thing to do. You see it in the movies, you see it in TV shows, and whenever I have passed by it is always a million tourists that we try to avoid. But we figured that since it was the post-holiday rush, it might be fun to do it, especially to advise my clients. It ended up being super, super fun. We bought tickets in advance for a daytime slot, which I recommend doing just in case it is sold out the day of. It is super organized and the staff there know exactly what they’re doing. They give everyone timed stickers to wear that are different colors, and they announce when your time is up so you get off the ice. The ticket includes your time at the rink, a locker, and skate rentals, so it was an easy process. We skated on the ice for about an hour. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and there were kids that were falling, and parents were laughing, and everyone was just enjoying themselves. You could tell it was a really nice family time. I would recommend this for couples and also for families. My husband said it would be a great idea for a first date. We saw some characters dancing on the side who were clearly very great ice skaters but were just putting on a show for others to laugh and interact with. I’m glad that after 35 years I finally did it!
Our first night in the city we stayed at The Whitby hotel, which I will write more about in my next post. For dinner, we went to a pop-up restaurant called Le Petit Chef which is located at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. For this dinner you definitely need advanced reservations. I tried to get a reservation for a few months and I finally got one. As soon as you get to the Marriott Marquis which is filled with tourists because of the location which is right in the heart of Times Square, you are directed to take the elevators up the third floor. Once there, you’ll check in with another person who takes you to a special elevator to the 80th floor. After coat check, you walk downstairs to a restaurant called The View. This particular pop-up called Le Petit Chef has advanced technology. It uses 3D projection mapping technology and it takes four to five weeks to make just one video. It is an interactive dining experience where a little chef pops up on the table and walks around your plate and serves you food. You can check out their Instagram @le.petitchef to see pictures and videos of the world’s smallest chef. Upon arrival, they give you a glass of champagne while you wait for your table to be ready. We were lucky and we had our own table just the two of us. For the first course which was salad, the interaction is that the little chef is gardening right in front of you on the table and pulling vegetables up from the dirt and throwing them onto your plate, then all of a sudden the waiters were there and put exactly what you were seeing down right in front of you. I am not going to spoil the other courses because it should be a surprise for anyone who is going, but the little chef running around on your plate is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. As far as the food, it was not the best food in the world, which we figured going into dinner because it was mostly about the experience in itself. That being said, the food was tasty enough. It came with a wine pairing and the wine pours were extremely generous. In fact, they were all very full.
The next day, David had a craving for ramen so we found a place called Kim Ramen that was only a block away from The Whitby. It was a teeny-tiny little hole-in-the wall joint but it was packed inside. There were so many people because apparently it is one of the best ramen noodle restaurants in the city and we just happened to luck out because it was a block from where we were staying. I would definitely recommend this hidden gem, especially in the winter for those seeking some warm soup.
Then, we went to The Summit which is an observation deck in midtown Manhattan known for its sweeping views of the city. It is also more famously known for being very
'Instagrammable' because of the mirrors and inflatable silver balloons in one of the rooms. There was a pretty long line to get in which we were expecting because it was a holiday weekend. When you get in, the staff makes you cover your shoes to protect the mirrored glass, and they also give you sunglasses because it is insanely bright when you get up to the top. I didn’t even know that we were moving in the elevator, and then all of a sudden we were on the 91st floor. When we got to the mirrored room, it was indeed extremely bright because of the sun reflecting off the mirrored glass. In fact, the room gives you a sense of boundless space as you peer up and down look upon 30,375 square feet of mirrors. It was definitely beautiful, but it was also really hot because not only was there one sun, but it felt like 1,000 suns because of the reflections. I thought it was really cool and the views were amazing, but my husband hated it. He doesn’t like big crowds, and really it was so many people just taking a million photos for instagram. I thought I would be one of those people as well, but it was hot and crowded and I could sense the hubs getting cranky so we sped through it. We spent about an hour total at The Summit. If you were going there to take pictures, you could easily spend two hours there.
We went back to the hotel to get our stuff and transferred to the next hotel, Fouquet’s. I'll write more about this dreamy new hotel in a next post as well.
That night, we went to a bar called Swingers. No, it is not a strip club; it is a mini-golf entertainment space also in midtown. We loved it! It was crowded but not overwhelmingly so. It is a huge place with plenty of places to sit where you can order food and drinks. You get a tee time, and as you are playing mini-golf someone comes and takes your drinks. We had a friend meet us and we had a really nice night. You can rent out the space for parties too!
The morning of our Fouquet's stay, after breakfast we walked to Marie Belle in Soho, which is the dreamiest chocolate shop you've ever seen. It makes me feel like I'm in Paris. I've been meaning to check out their Cocoa Bar in the back, so we went to have another hot chocolate tasting. David got an iced hot chocolate and I got a white hot chocolate, and both were delicious. I highly recommend this spot for girlfriends, or a mother-daughter date. They also serve afternoon tea!
Stay tuned for the next blog posts about the hotels where we stayed, and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries!