Cozy Hotel Bars

Pretty soon not even the warmest winter jacket will insulate you from the cold of New York City. While it’s tempting to go straight home after work to avoid the cold, you can only hibernate for so long before needing to get out on the town. The holiday season is perfect for catching up with friends, so check out these cozy hotel bars where you will all be glad to be out of the cold and enjoying your favorite winter beverages.

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Image: The Carlyle Hotel

Bemelman’s Bar at The Carlyle Hotel
35 East 76th Street at Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021

This bar is decorated with water color murals painted by Ludwig Bemelmans, the famous artist/author of the children’s book series, Madeline. The drinks are similarly artful, with classic concoctions by NYC’s prime mixologist Brian Van Flanders, any of which would make an equally delicious mocktail. The vibe of the upscale joint goes up a notch on weekends, when the bar hosts live jazz bands.


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Image: Ludlow Hotel

The Lobby Bar at the Ludlow Hotel
180 Ludlow Street (b/t East Houston and Stanton Streets)
New York, NY 10002

This Lower East Side hotel is famous for its lobby bar which serves up drinks inventive enough to catch the eye of New York’s most discerning food critics.  Many of these drinks can easily be converted into mocktails, such as the passionfruit and lime-flavored Lilikoi. Lounge on one of the hip velvet couches as you warm up by the stone fireplace, and pretty soon you’ll forget it’s winter.


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Image: Iroquois Hotel

Lantern’s Keep at the Iroquois Hotel
49 West 44th Street (near 6th Avenue)
New York, NY 10036

Midtown locals flock to this intimate, speakeasy-type bar tucked away in the Iroquois Hotel. You’ll be transported back to the European salons of the 1920s as you enjoy the classic cocktails served by bow-tied bartenders. The impressionist paintings on the wall and the candles scattered around the room make this the perfect spot for a winter date.


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Image: The Public Hotel

The Lobby Bar at the Public Hotel
215 Chrystie Street (at Stanton Street)
New York, NY 10002

Billed as the “heartbeat and social hub” of this trendy new Public Hotel, this lobby bar does not disappoint. With a pool table for trying out your bar sports skills, and plenty of comfortable chairs, you’ll find it easy to while away the cold winter hours. If you need a change of scene, look no further than the Diego Bar located one flight up. It’s inspired by the famous Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, and features drinks that will make you feel like you’re in the tropics, no matter how cold it is outside.


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Image: HGU Hotel

1905 Lounge at HGU Hotel
34 East 32nd Street (b/t Madison & Park Avenues)
New York, NY 10016
212-779-3432

You’ll feel right at home in the 1905 Lounge, located in the swank HGU Hotel. This spot makes the ideal winter hideaway, with its sleek, black-marble fireplace that warms up the room and leather seats that provide for hours of comfortable lounging. No need to wander out to a nearby museum for your daily cultural intake; the bar’s walls are covered in art from the owner’s impressive collection.


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Image: The NoMad Hotel

The Library at the NoMAD Hotel
1170 Broadway (at 28th Street)
New York, NY 10001

This two-story library bar is heaven for the cocktail-loving bookworm. Its impressive selection of delicious, alcohol-free drinks has won the title of New York Magazine’s “Best Mocktails.” This spot has a very private feel, complete with a curtained entrance. Technically reserved for hotel guests after 4PM, this bar tends to be relatively quiet. Stop by on a weekday night, and a benevolent host might sneak you a table.


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Image: Gramercy Park Hotel Bar

Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Bar
2 Lexington Avenue (b/t 22nd Street & North Gramercy Park)
New York, NY 10010

The ambiance alone makes this bar worth visiting, with a wood-burning fireplace warming up the room, a shining chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and an impressive art collection decorating every wall. The bartenders love to put on a show as they mix and stir drinks dramatically. Visit the spot before Christmas to enjoy their highly revered annual Christmas tree.

Winter Events in NYC

Winter is almost upon us and as temperatures dip, a new kind of fun emerges for city dwellers. Winter is the time to get inside, and the abundance of art, music, fashion, and food scenes make it a particularly fun time of year. It’s also a good time to be out and about in the cold, with some particularly daring adventures for the not-so-faint of heart. Here are some of my favorite winter activities happening around the city now and in the coming winter months.

Photo: BryantPark.org

Bryant Park Winter Village
41 W 40th Street and 5th Avenue
Skating hours: Daily 8am–10pm, Oct. 28 through Mar 4.
Holiday Shops: Mon–Fri 11am–8pm, Sat, Sun 10am–8pm, Oct. 28 through Jan. 2
Free

There’s no better way to greet winter than by taking a lap around Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink. Skating is free and you can either bring your own skates or rent a pair for $20. Afterwards, grab some hot chocolate and shop for holiday gifts at the 150+ shops which feature food, crafts, gifts and more. For more skating options, check out my previous ice skating post but be sure to call for updated opening days and hours.

Photo: NYBG.org
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
2900 Southern Boulevard near Bronx Park Road
Bronx, NY 10485
November 22 – January 15, 2018, 10AM-6PM
Adults: $28
Students & Seniors (65+): $25
Children (2–12): $12
Members & Children under 2: Free

Your kids will love exploring this 3,000 square foot space featuring over 25 model trains zipping along a quarter mile of track. Everyone in the family will be in awe of the display of 150 NYC landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Terminal made entirely from natural materials like moss, twigs and leaves.

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Photo: polarbearclub.org

Coney Island Polar Bear Club Plunge
Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island
January 1, 2018, Arrive by 12:30 PM for the 1:00 PM Plunge
Recommended donation: $25

What better way to show yourself you’re committed to an awesome 2018 than to jump into the icy ocean on the first day of the year? The annual Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge benefits Coney Island organizations including the NY Aquarium and the Alliance for Coney Island, and it’s full of daredevils and people with joie de vivre, just like you (maybe)! You must register in order to swim; register on New Year’s day onsite starting at 10 AM or online here. Registrants also enjoy free all day admission to the NY Aquarium.

Photo: Winterjazzfest.com

Winter Jazzfest
January 10-17
Full Festival Pass: $175
Individual show: $20 advance / $25 -$70 day of show

Now in its 13th year, Greenwich Village’s Winter Jazzfest attracts some of the Jazz world’s best veteran musicians as well as up-and-comers ready to share their musical talents. Choose from five nights of shows taking place in an array of cozy downtown venues.

Photo: 9th Annual Latke Festival

9th Annual Latke Festival
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway near Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
December 18, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
$55 – $120

This ninth annual celebration of Hanukkah’s most delectable treat will feature some of New York City’s best restaurants competing to win the title of “Best Latke.” With celebrity judges, a live DJ, and some healthy competition, it’s sure to be a “lat” of fun.

Photo: Wikicommons

NYC Broadway Week
January 16th– February 4th
$75-$450

For one week only, purchase tickets to the hottest Broadway shows at 2-for-1 prices. Tickets go on sale January 5th.

Photo: Outsider Art Fair

Outsider Art Fair
January 18–21, 2018
Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street near 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Come look inside the minds of New York’s most talented self-taught artists creating work unlike anything you’ll see on museum walls. A gathering place for New York’s creative community, this is a chance to watch guest talks by big players in the art world while celebrating the independent spirit of art outside the mainstream.

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Photo: Jean George’s/Instagram

NYC Restaurant Week
January 22 – February 9, 2018
Reservations open January 8
3 Courses: $29 Lunch /$42 Dinner

This semiannual city-wide promotion is an opporutnity to sample some of New York’s best gourmet dining at very-much non-gourmet prices. As part of the celebration, dozens of restaurants offer a three-course prix-fixe meal for lunch and/or dinner.

Image: Cristina Cifuentes, Flickr, Wikipedia

New York Fashion Week
February 8 – 16, 2018

Fall 2018 fashions will hit the runways during the second week of February. This year will be the 75th annual fashion week; stay tuned to the above website for a full calendar of designers and runway show locations.

Image: Petsadviser.com for Wikimedia

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
February 10, 12, 13, 2018
Madison Square Garden
$10 – $100

Now in its 142nd year, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a NYC tradition. Whether you want to attend because you love show dogs, or because you love people who love show dogs, there are three days worth of events to take part in. Tickets range in price from $10 (for kids and particular events) to $100.

Photo: Facebook/Cupid’s Undie Run

Cupid’s Undie Run 
Saturday, February 10th  12PM-4PM
Stage 48
605 West 48th Street near 11th Avenue
New York, NY
$30
This Valentine’s Day, join thousands of underwear-clad runners in a race to raise money for Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder affecting 1 in every 3,000 babies born. 

Photo: Facebook/Lunar New Year Parade

Lunar New Year Parade
Sara D. Roosevelt Park
East Houston Street to Canal Street (between Forsyth and Chrystie Streets)
New York, NY 10002
February 17th, 12 – 6 PM

Come ring in “The Year of the Dog” at Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade, complete with Chinese dragons, food vendors, and wildly festive performances.

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Photo by D. Myles Cullen, Wikimedia

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street
New York, NY 10036
March 17th, 11AM-5PM
This St. Patty’s Day event is older than the United States itself! Started during the Revolutionary War by a few homesick Irish soldiers in the British Army, it now attracts more than 2 million participants, making it the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world!

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Photo: New York Antiquarian Book Fair

New York Antiquarian Book Fair
643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets
New York, NY 1006
Thursday March 8th  5-9 PM
Friday March 9th  12 PM-8 PM
Saturday March 10th   12 -7 PM
Sunday March 11th  12-5 PM
Tickets: $25

Calling all book nerds! Peruse the stands of more than 200 obsessive collectors of old, rare books, manuscripts and ephemera dating back to the 14th century! You’ll be able to pick up first edition art books, photography books and maps for the literary fiend in your life.

Stay tuned for the next edition of my favorite NYC events which will include my top picks of things to do around New York City during the Spring.

Flights of Fancy at NYC Area Airports

Gone are the days when taking a flight consisted of being welcomed by human beings and a printed boarding pass, walking through breezy security lines onto a TWA or Continental flight, and then eating a full onboard meal compliments of the airline. These days, flights usually begin at a kiosk where a digital ticket is scanned followed by a barefoot walk through an X-ray machine and then maybe a tiny pack of pretzels onboard. Bummer. There are, however, lots of ways in which flight experiences have been upgraded. Not only do we now have TVs on each seat, but airports have mostly upgraded their design and offerings to make waiting for a flight much more enjoyable. In case you’re a frequent flier, you may want to know what’s happening at our area airports. 


What’s News at JFK?

JFK is home to 6 terminals and includes food options ranging from BKLYN Beer Garden to Shake Shack and shopping options from The Museum of Modern Art Store to Tumi. Noticeably behind the ball compared to other major international airports, JFK is about to undergo a huge renovation which will be headed by Architecture firm Grimshaw as part of a $10B, 30 year revitalization plan aimed at making NYC airports competitive with our global counterparts. JFK’s renovations will include revamps to the main terminal, aircraft parking, airfield capacity, and – lucky for frequent fliers – the airport gates.

Those of us who fly JetBlue would argue that Terminal 5 is the best one at JFK. JetBlue has made customer satisfaction such a priority that they use the terminal as their experiential marketing hub; they’ve sponsored live concerts with headliners including Boys II Men and they recently had the Brooklynettes hand out free Nets tickets to unsuspecting incoming passengers, just because! The JetBlue terminal sits where TWA used to be, and where a 505 room hotel is currently underway – finally – since JFK is one of the only major airports without an onsite hotel. The property will incorporate the iconic 1962 Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Terminal (image above courtesy of TWAhotel.com) and will feature 40,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces and a 10,000 square foot observation deck for guests to enjoy views of the incoming and outgoing airplanes.

The airport has recently opened help desks for passengers arriving from Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands whose homes were affected by Hurricane Maria. The personnel have been trained to assist with providing information about a wide range of services in NYC including health insurance, affordable housing, immunizations, and temporary assistance.

Also new at JFK, FAO Schwarz has opened its first airline store as a pop up in Terminal 4 through the end of this year, perfect for holiday shopping while heading to or home from your destination. Another first is the American Airline Flagship Dining area, a lounge where first class AA passengers traveling internationally can enjoy a locally sourced seasonal menu in an upscale dining setting.

If you’re wondering what the future of travel looks like, JFK Customs and Border Protection along with TSA are currently running a 30 day pilot of facial recognition technology. Terminal 7 has one international checkpoint using this biometric technology which compares the face in a traveler’s travel documents with the photo taken at the entry point kiosk. If all goes well with these and subsequent pilots, you will no longer need your travel ID or boarding pass to take a flight. Your face, iris, or fingerprints will suffice. Australian airports already plan to replace all documentation with biometric technology by 2020!


Renderings Courtesy of LaGuardia Airport
LGA Renderings Courtesy of LaGuardia Airport

What’s News at LGA?

The least loved of our three nearby airports is without a doubt LaGuardia. It’s been voted the 14th worst airport on earth and Google reviews complain of cockroaches on the walls, leaky ceilings, not enough English-speaking staff, and narrow, cramped passageways. Add to this traffic delays and public transport reroutes caused by seemingly endless construction, and a pre-travel nightmare is almost guaranteed. Luckily, the current $4B renovation project is slated for completion in five years and the new airport will be almost unrecognizable. In stark contrast to the dark and cramped current terminals and hallways, the new LGA will have 25′ ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, and live vegetation growing throughout. One centralized TSA area, LCD displays announcing security line wait times, and a 3,200 space short-term parking lot will alleviate much of what has been ailing LGA travelers for years. Add to that a collection of paintings by New York artists, nap pods, and – up for consideration – an Airtrain and in-airport hotel, and LGA may give JFK a run for its money!


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What’s News at EWR?

You may have seen the recent ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to choose Newark airport over JFK. Travel time to EWR is shorter, the ads proclaim, usually at least 30 minutes shorter. For New Yorkers whose every minute counts, traveling from EWR is something to consider.

The push to get more New Yorkers out of Newark Airport comes after United Airlines spent $120M on renovations unveiled last year, and at the same time that $2.4B worth of renovations are underway (this is in addition to the $347M renovations unveiled in 2014). Construction of the renovations to Terminal A, a parking area with 3,000 spaces, and improvements to the airport roadways started in June of this year and are expected to be complete by 2022.

Rockwell Group & OTG Management
Image courtesy of Rockwell Group & OTG Management

United Airlines’ $120M Terminal C renovations were conceptualized by David Rockwell whose work includes the redesign of JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK and stage sets for the Academy Awards. The terminal now boasts 55 restaurants, much more light which allows travelers to stay in touch with their circadian rhythms, and 6,000 iPads where passengers can check their flight status and pay for meals using points, among other things.

Fine dining is also now available at Newark Airport, but only for a select few who receive emailed invitations on the day before their flight. The invites are for the new exclusive restaurant called Classified which is accessible through a clandestine door in another restaurant, Saison. The covert location seats only 36 and has menu items such as chili lobster, foie gras, an oyster platter, craft cocktails, and an impressive dessert selection. United has kept mum about exactly how passengers are selected for an invitation, but they may be limited to members of United Premier 1K, those who fly at least 100K miles on United every year. Click here to take a behind the scenes tour.

The unique challenge our local airports face is that, regardless of how much money is poured into their renovations, the limited land on which they can expand ensures that the size of the airports won’t grow all that much. Whether or not these plans take off as expected, we can all be grateful for the incremental improvements we’re seeing that have been on the horizon for years.