Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More New York City Food, Fun & Spirits

A recent trip to New York City had me checking out a new hotel and eating at a place that brought back some old memories – with a little bit of sweating in between!

I absolutely loved The James Hotel in Chicago and couldn’t wait to see the brand new James Hotel in New York. I was a bit shocked when I got there as I’ve never seen two hotels with the same name (and there are only two in the chain so far) that were so completely different. In fact, the only thing I found they had in common was the modern furnishings with wonderful displays of artwork throughout the hotel.

The trip was a short (but definitely sweet) mother-daughter getaway so the hotel worked great for me. We also saw a lot of couples in the lobby who loved the view and the SoHo location. The ultra-modern design is a continued theme throughout the property, done by the Office for Design and Architecture in a collaboration with Perkins Eastman, and Amanda Sullivan from The James design team. Everything is open and inviting, as this area of Manhattan is known to be.

Unlike The James in Chicago, though, this is not a family hotel. All of the rooms just have one king size bed and they are fairly small, with the exception of the 1,300 square foot Penthouse Loft. The regular rooms do make up for it in d├ęcor if you don’t need the space. The views of Manhattan are amazing from your bed – or any other place in the hotel, for that matter. And speaking of the bed, the view of the bathroom toilet and shower from the clear wall looks like an invasion of privacy to those sitting on the bed, until you find the switch that brings down the beautifully painted blinds (left)!

After we settled into the room, we went down to the lobby area where they serve an evening cocktail hour of wine and cheese. The restaurant hasn’t opened here yet so the hotel provides this, as well as dessert at night and coffee and pastry in the morning. Sam and I ventured out for some dinner, but returned to check out Jimmy, the rooftop bar with its own swimming pool deck and the most breathtaking Manhattan Skyline views you can imagine. The drinks are a bit pricey, but they have unusual offerings. I definitely recommend The Royal Baby (Aquavit, Cherry Herring Liqueur, pineapple juice and fresh ginger) or the 12 Gauge Grog (Flor de Cana 7 year Rum, Goslings & Brugal Anejo Rums, passion fruit juice, bitters and Pusser’s Naval Rum).

We had to travel a bit too far to use him, but we ran into The James’ complimentary Pedicab driver, who is happy to take you around the immediate area. The James also offers guests free use of robes and slippers; wireless internet; daily newspapers; bottled water; and nightly turn down service with chocolate.

While SoHo is a great area to hang out and do designer shopping (or head to Canal Street to do knock-off shopping), we had decided to head down to the Times Square area and the first stop was Exhale Mind Body Spa. After all, when the second stop is calorie laden, you need to make some room. We definitely burned off some in Amy’s Core Fusion class. I loved the mix of pilates, yoga and aerobics. Exhale has many option for classes and also offers spa services and acupuncture at a growing list of locations throughout the U.S. I’m looking forward to trying some more of them.

I’m afraid we may not have burnt off enough calories for our final stop before heading out of Manhattan -- Junior’s Cheesecake. I used to go the original Brooklyn location as a kid (and loved the birthday cheesecakes my dad would bring home from there). The Times Square restaurant and store offer a lot more than cheesecake and we got started with some good old fashioned Matzoh Ball Soup and  Potato Pancakes. We were a bit concerned we wouldn’t even have room for dessert, but when the manager came by with plates of Chocolate Mousse, Pumpkin, Plain and Strawberry cheesecakes, we couldn’t resist taking a few bites (and taking the rest home).


1 comment:

John said...

I stayed at the Soho Hotel once when I visited New York and I remember it being one of the nicest hotels in NYC.

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