We tracked down seasoned concierge Erik Alvarado to find out what activities, shopping and restaurants he recommends to both his new and returning guests at the SoHotel.
What do you love most about the city? Why?
One of the many things I love about NYC is the ability to move around to and from many different neighborhoods quickly and easily while exploring the diversity that the Big Apple offers. Growing up in a small town as a kid and then moving to the big city, where everything can be found, seen and experienced, gave me the opportunity to develop a passion to help others in their exciting adventures in New York.
Suggestions for best under-the-radar sites or uncommon things to do?
Smorgasburg is not so much under the radar but I think it offers a different view of the city as it is visited by tourists and locals alike. You can enjoy a nice day at East River State Park full of drinks, bites and desserts from many different cultures. This happens every Saturday.
What stops should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when coming to NYC? Why?
Brookfield Place is not only located in one of the best sightseeing areas of the city, but it also offers a great selection of boutiques. It is home to international fashion houses including Hermès, Bottega Veneta and Burberry, and contemporary brands such as Paul Smith, Theory, Michael Kors, Vince and Lululemon. I also consider it a gourmet destination—everyone will find food they will love with dining options like Hudson Eats, a collection of 14 chef-driven eateries; Le District, a 30,000-square-foot French-inspired marketplace; and eight signature restaurants, including Del Frisco’s Grille and Parm.
What’s your best tip for visiting the city like a local?
Make sure you know the train status, download your subway map (get familiar with alternative routes) and get ready to do a lot of walking. Get an attraction pass and make sure to visit your hotel’s concierge desk. They will recommend and direct you to places that will make your visit more memorable.
Where are some good places to capture a great selfie?
The High Line’s length and elevation make it a New York City must-visit spot. The elevated park and walkway offers great views to capture some of the best shots of the Lower West Side, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Also the arches along Central Park make for great pictures any time of year.
Favorite local restaurant(s) for a special meal?
Little Prince, located on Prince St., is a French bistro with charming style to make your experience a night to remember. The food is incredibly good, and the cocktails will pair to perfection. This spot is ideal for a special occasion.
For a guest looking for a night on the town, what would you recommend?
I would venture to say that Koreatown is one of the most vivid neighborhoods in the city. The small area has an impressive saturation of Korean restaurants as well as Asian bakeries and sake bars. You’ll find a wide range of food and activities, including karaoke bars and pool halls all within walking distance.
Best places to take kids of all ages?
The American Museum of Natural History is my first recommendation for kids not only for the richness of the museum’s displays, but also for its proximity to Central Park. After having fun at the museum, families can continue exploring in Central Park at its many attractions, including the zoo, the carousel, the lake and the playground—all in one place.
Where do you like to go / what do you like to do in the city on your day off?
I am always on the lookout for exciting activities and places for entertainment. The Auschwitz exhibition at The Museum of Jewish Heritage is one of my favorite places to visit right now. It’s also close to Oyster House at Pier A, a great location to just sit outside, have a drink and enjoy the views of the Statue of Liberty and Hudson River.