Ask the Expert: Bill Hawkins of Mandarin Oriental New York

"On a night out, finish the evening in the Art Deco bar at Ophelia, atop the Beekman Tower near the United Nations. Creative cocktails and amazing views of the East River and Long Island City."

Expert Tips From a Concierge Expert

Nobody knows a city like the local concierge team. With the inside track on all the best places to dine, shows to see and things to do, they're a wealth of knowledge for all travelers. We talk with local hotel concierge in New York City to get the inside scoop on all their expert tips. 

Bill Hawkins, Concierge at Mandarin Oriental New York & President of The New York City Association of Hotel Concierges

WT: What are your best tips for exploring New York City like a local?
Hawkins: Walk! New York (Manhattan in particular) is a great walking city. The island is so compact and dense that you can discover wonderful and new things on every single block. 

WT: What’s a good spot to capture a great selfie?
Hawkins: My favorite spot in New York City (and maybe the world) is the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. It is a beautiful and iconic spot. 

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain New York | WhereTravele
Bethesda Terrace and Fountan (©Christopher Postlewaite / NYC & Company)

WT: What should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when visiting?

Hawkins: Take in a great cabaret show at Feinstein’s 54 Below in the Theatre District, or experience unique Burlesque and Jazz acts at Duane Park on the Bowery.  

WT: Where’s the best place to take kids of all ages?
Hawkins: Take the family downtown to Battery Park. You can view the Statue of Liberty from the shore and ride the unique SeaGlass Carousel. If you have time, the Staten Island Ferry is right there. It’s a fun (and free) harbor cruise to see the skyline and waterfront! 

Seaglass Carousel New York | WhereTraveler
Seaglass Carousel (©Lily Li)

WT: For a guest looking for a night on the town, what would you recommend?
Hawkins: Summer is the perfect time for drinks with a view. Start the evening at MO Lounge at Mandarin Oriental New York, overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. 

WT: Any suggestions for best Under-The-Radar sites or uncommon things to do?

Hawkins: Take a day trip outside NYC! Beacon, New York, is a bustling mill town turned art town, just 90 minutes outside the city on Metro-North Railroad out of Grand Central. The whole town is walkable and full of small-town charm.