New York City Revisited: A Fanciful Retreat

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I visited New York City a few months ago and afterwards wrote about my perfect weekend. And it was perfect, filled with long aimless walks through the Village and meals shared with old friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen since before moving to Shanghai. I was able to reconnect with the city I used to call home. The only downside to all this was that I barely saw my husband. I dashed off to brunch with girlfriends while he did his own thing, and when my husband and I were together, we were always surrounded by other people, whom we love greatly.

Normally on our Manhattan visits, we stay with a dear and generous friend. When I mentioned the dates we planned to come up, she said she might be out of town. Immediately the wheels in my head started to turn. Wouldn’t it be romantic if we stayed in a hotel? Wouldn’t it be special if we sought out the places and experiences that were most meaningful to us? What if we spent the weekend seeking out foods from the region of the world we’re moving to? An idea was born!

Thanks to steep off-season discounts and a lot of luck, we managed to score a room at the Park Lane Hotel with an incredible view of Central Park, my favorite part of the city. We could literally see into the windows of the Plaza Hotel, just a few doors down. How on earth did we get here? Even the hotel clerk who checked us in seemed amazed that we got the room we did for the rate we paid, which included breakfast.




Every morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s dining room, with white tablecloth service and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Central Park. There was fresh fruit and pastries, artisan butter disks imprinted with the Park Lane logo and tea served in sterling silver pots. A girl could get used to this!

After breakfast, we strolled through Central Park, enjoying rare moments of solitude and reveling in the starkΒ wintry landscape. One morning a heavy sleet began soon after we set off and it quickly accumulated, dampening the sounds and weighing down our umbrellas. Aside from a few other hearty souls, we were the only ones out. But rather than hop in a taxi, we pulled up our collars and soldiered on, all the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, some two dozen blocks from where we started.





We arrived at the Met just as it opened and were amazed to find so few people inside on a Saturday. We wandered through the Greek and Roman sculpture wing, reminiscing about our time in Athens and dreaming up plans to go to Rome. Hopping continents, we marveled at the Egyptian mummies and reconstructed ruins before soaking up the colorful brushstrokes of the French Impressionists.




We spent hours in the Strand bookstore, browsing through the stacks and buying more than we could comfortably carry. We walked past Radio City Music Hall, whose pink neon lights looked romantic in the misty evening light, watched the skaters at Rockefeller Center and gazed in wonder at the marvelous creations inside the Lego store.





Times Square may not seem especially romantic, with the heaving crowds and pushy touts, but the dazzling lights never fail to impress me. Every time I stand on the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, I’m reminded of the weekend I first moved to Manhattan, full of youthful dreams and ready to prove that if I could make it there, I could, in fact, make it anywhere. (Thank you, Mr. Sinatra!)



Attacking Elmo just makes the experience all the more memorable.

We rode the subway, reliving our city experience of years past, and walked around the East Village. And when the chilly temperature became too much to bear, a frothy cappuccino in a cozy cafe was always near at hand.





How would you spend a weekend in New York city?

What destinations do you think are most romantic?


29 thoughts on “New York City Revisited: A Fanciful Retreat

  1. What a beautiful view! I’ve never needed to stay in a hotel in NYC, luckily, but it looks like a great place.

    That Elmo is just creepy, though.

    • The view was absolutely incredible. We found ourselves returning to the room often, to drop off books or freshen up, but mainly just to look out the window. I had only stayed in a hotel there once before, when I came up to find my apartment right before the big move, and it was kind of like I’d come full circle. And I love that photo of Elmo. He wanted me to pose with him so bad πŸ™‚

    • I can’t even tell you how heartbreaking it was to check out of there. I wanted to move in!

      I went to a taping of Jon Stewart before I left which was really fun. And I saw Jimmy Fallon on the street. Does that count?

    • One thing I love about New York is that it has so many different facets. It’s a shopping mecca, foodie haven, touristic icon and artist’s dream, all rolled into one. A lot of it has to do with your expectations going in. And going in the off-season helps πŸ™‚

  2. Sometimes it’s so nice to treat yourself and not just pick the cheapest options when you take a trip. It sounds like you got an incredible deal and made your time in NYC really special. I’ve only ever been to New York for business (or tagging along with Tony for business), but I’d love to go back one day for pure pleasure. I did spend a day once just hopping from one independent bookstore to the next and that was a delight (there are some real beauties in Greenwich Village for the next time you’re back!).
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Charmed (& Swindled!) At Sri Mahamariamman TempleMy Profile

    • That hotel really made the whole weekend feel extraordinarily special. Our jaws dropped when we first opened the door, and every morning at breakfast, when we were sat next to wealthy European super-model and oligarch types, we looked at each other and laughed because we so obviously did not belong. But the staff treated us just the same which is the mark of a fine establishment. Actually, I think the front desk guy was even nicer to me because it was like we were in on this secret together. I love my trips up to visit my friends, but this was a really nice departure. And I’d love to hear more about those bookstores!

  3. OMG, I”m OBSESSED with The Park Lane Hotel! Seriously, it’s such an undiscovered gem, and right on the park and a great price (compared to the craziness you pay for a lot of downtown hotels, at least.) Whenever we have guests in from out of town, we always host them here:-) Also, I love the little tucked away bar on the 2nd floor, Harry’s, it’s always so dim and relatively empty, a very romantic spot for a glass of wine.

    So glad you and your hubby had a wonderful time! Happy Valentine’s Day:-)
    Jess @UsedYorkCity recently posted…New Yorker Moments: So You Wanna Wear Your Wedding Dress Twice…My Profile

    • I couldn’t believe the price! It was less than the Marriott Courtyard and had way more character. I will definitely be staying there again! Somehow we never made it into Harry’s so that alone is reason enough to go back πŸ˜‰ Happy Valentine’s Day!

  4. Sounds like such a magical weekend, Heather! It so nice to splurge a little sometimes – although it seems you got that great place for a bargain! Will have to add the Park Lane Hotel to our list whenever we go back to NYC! Thanks for the tip! πŸ™‚

    NYC will always hold a special place in our hearts because that is where we got engaged. I remember walking a lot on that trip, as you did; it’s such a lovely way to see the city. And despite the flack Times Square often gets, I love it too. You just feel like “I’m in New York.” Happy Valentine’s Day πŸ™‚
    Jessica – Notes of Nomads recently posted…Weekly Photo Round-up: Feb 3rdMy Profile

    • Thanks Jessica, the stars definitely aligned for us that weekend!

      How romantic to get engaged in NYC! I just had to settle for meeting my future husband there πŸ™‚

  5. I certainly would! πŸ™‚ I’ve never been to NY and I have to admit is one of the place I’d love to go at some point, I only hope I won’t be disappointed because after seeing and hearing so much about it from others, I might have built it up too much.

  6. Except for it being so cold, sounds like a great weekend! I always enjoyed my visits πŸ™‚

  7. You have been to all places in NYC I always wanted to visit! Your hotel was amazing. I really miss fresh fruits for my breakfast and some cold weather. Indonesia is way too hot today. P.S. I love your new design! Well done, so nice!
    Agness recently posted…Leuven, Belgium Under €25 A DayMy Profile

    • Thanks, Victoria! There were so many fun displays in the Lego store and we were tempted to buy a set to take home! I hope you make it to NYC someday soon – you’re just saving the best for last πŸ™‚

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