Manhattan: A Staycation, of Sorts

Where New York City editor made a 24-hour holiday out of coming to Manhattan.

As a Where editor who lives in Princeton, New Jersey, I have the distinct advantage of residing at the midway point of my favorite U.S. cities: Philadelphia and New York. And, though I take the train daily to my Midtown Manhattan office, it is not quite the same thing as staying over in a NYC hotel and playing tourist. Recently, I did just that, and it reminded me that this town will never, ever leave you jaded.

I arrived at the Time Hotel in Times Square a bit wiped out—it was one of those hot and humid, early summer days that leave you limp. I was immediately revived with a cup of superb coffee at Goldfinch, the counter in the front of the hotel that serves Stumptown Coffee, the brand known for its rich, bold java. I checked in on the second floor, but found it hard to leave that desk, even after I was handed my room key: I was mesmerized by what first appears as a piece of abstract art, with black slashes turning slowly and deliberately, until you step back and realize that numbers start emerging to show the time: it was a clock! In my mind, it was cooler than even Big Ben.

The clock at the front desk of the Time Hotel.

But as fun as that was to watch, I couldn’t wait to get up to my room, after the desk clerk explained, “the big mirror facing your bed is also a TV—just switch it on with the remote to make it turn into a screen.” Holy futuristic worlds, I thought.

There's a TV in the mirror!

The room—a deluxe king—came with a separate sitting area, complete with a sofa bed, chair, bar and large flat-screen TV. Dramatic, modernist touches included an all-black floor lamp and a bulbous glass bureau lamp that, upon close inspection, revealed miniature people, upside-down, at the top of the glass. Curiouser and curiouser.

People trapped in a lamp trapped in a room at the Time Hotel.

And, while, all these cool, cutting-edge elements adds to the whimsy and fun of the hotel, the most important details were not ignored: a large, comfortable bed, a sound-proof room, a powerful waterfall showerhead. That was, of course, what added to the plush comfort of the whole experience. 

Next on the agenda was dinner at the popular Serafina Italian restaurant, with several around the city, and one located in the hotel. A drink at the bar set the tone for a fine meal—a perfectly chilled and balanced Grey Goose martini. After that, my guest and I made our way into the lively dining room and feasted on prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, avocado and baby shrimp salad and sautéed branzino with tomatoes.

The dining room at Serafina

After the leisurely dinner, we headed back to our room just in time to catch the Christian Bale version of the film “Batman” on our wondrous mirror-turned-television.

The morning brought another bracing cup of Goldfinch coffee, croissants and a trip Downtown. My friend had never been on the High Line. We were fortunate in that it was a Monday, as the fascinating, former elevated freight train tracks-turned park is usually packed on the weekends. On this day, though, there was plenty of room to meander up and down, admiring the views of the Hudson, the Meatpacking District and surrounding skyline, as well as the wild and cultivated plants and trees, and marvelously designed sculptures and benches, the latter which seemed (as a result of their creative design) to melt into the cement.

The High Line

It is impossible for me not to stop in at the Whitney Museum of American Art when I am this close to that museum (literally next to the High Line, on the southern end), and I was glad I did, as I had not yet seen “An Incomplete History of Protest,” currently on exhibit. From photographs to videos to artifacts (like this wall of protest posters), it brought visitors up close and personal to the concept of civil revolution, and how many obstacles get in the way of making a democratic culture truly free for everyone.

The wall of protest posters from “An Incomplete HIstory of Protest.”

The day was finished with a truly original lunch experience at the gorgeously appointed Santina restaurant a block away. Between the bewitching and wholly unusual dishes (Italian chickpea pancakes filled with crunchy avocado paste, branzino crudo and a grapefruit dessert you have to eat to believe) and the exquisite Murano chandeliers, I was completely enchanted.

In fact, probably the most enchanting sorta staycation—ever!