Certain locales wear fall so much better than others, and New York is one of them. Depending on your neighborhood, you may find yourself mooning over ‘bouquets of sharpened pencils’ like Tom Hanks or fleeing the chill for an hour to indulge in a fashionable caffe at the Baccarat’s glittering Grand Salon. I find that the day feels the most full when it swings ever so gently from one ambience to another, from one cinematic ‘New York, I Love You’ story to the next. And so, during one of Manhattan’s most endearing times of year, I found myself on a flight of fancy uptown, downtown, and all around town.
Travelers who dream via large, stylish coffee table books will rejoice at Rizzoli’s new home, at long last on stable ground after its recent midtown closure. An Italian heritage brand and a beautiful bookstore both always leave me feeling anchored and inspired, and from here I walk towards Soho. I stop in at Dean & Deluca to cook up a similar emotion; is there a gourmet store as elegant and classy as D&D? The Soho location is by far my favorite, with its constant downtown buzz, its stylish shoppers, and its highly addictive dark chocolate covered espresso beans. I have un macchiato with one of the Milanese-born managers, and I head towards one of my favorite properties: the Crosby Street Hotel.
Oh Kit Kemp, you are such a visionary. I relish in the pops of color, the omnipresent personality, the life of the 98-room hotel. For a downtown stay, there cannot be a better located or better decorated abode. My vote is for one of the suites with ensuite garden. Doesn’t every New Yorker envy a private terrace garden? Personally I prefer the comforting sense of ‘home’ found in spades at the Crosby Street Hotel and all other Firmdale properties.
A few more stops to make downtown (like spicy, Autumn-esque avocado toast with white bean spread at Nourish and The Smile to Go’s insane chocolate sea salt cookie) before I race up to meet the last of the afternoon light in Central Park. Jackie O’s reservoir is obscenely calm and serene, and I park myself on a bench to take in the Upper East Side-ness of it all. Inquisitive dogs on leashes, the last of the amber leaves, prep school kids running laps, bits of one-sided cell phone conversations about an apartment sale, the pie one was meant to buy for Thanksgiving, the dinner at the Neue gallery. Ah, the symmetry of it all.
Back to reality. I find myself surrounded by oodles of crystal at the newly minted Baccarat Hotel & Residences across from the MoMa. In this reality, Baccarat is not only the light above your head, it is the glass in which you drink your bedtime water after brushing your teeth, it is the architectural accessories in your hotel gym, and it is how you recognize that you are on the right floor when looking for your room (each floor is named after a collection). If you are in need of a quiet, private, luxurious meeting place, I recommend the Grand Salon. If you are looking for a photogenic, Parisian bar complete with black and white tile, there is none other than the succinctly titled ‘Bar.’ The rooms are more streamlined; the decadence is found in the details, the chandeliers above your head, and surely on the plates at Chevalier, the hotel restaurant. I would certainly take advantage of the elegant indoor pool with its cabanas and pristine glimmer.
Lastly, as dusk falls, I dash to the celebrated windows at Bergdorfs to ooh and ahh over the astonishing talent behind each window. The intricacy of the designs, the myriad of materials, the thousands of details, and the elaborate, stop-in-your-tracks, can’t-get-over-it, performance of each ‘still’ is sensational. I tear myself away feeling inspired and satiated. Well done, New York, well done.