Links to my Yelp reviews for certain restaurants are included in this post. Be sure to click on them to check out my thoughts on these places!
Hotwire… where do I begin? If you think that $138 a night at a “four-stars” hotel in Times Square is a deal too good to be true, you would be correct (unless you scored Crowne Plaza like we did back in 2012). The “possible four” that I was gambling with included Novotel, Yotel, Crowne Plaza, and The Paramount. Of the four, I would’ve been extremely happy with any other than The Paramount, but a gamble is a gamble – and if you’re willing to gamble, you can afford to pay the price (I sure did). I paid a total of $429 including taxes and resort fees for two nights. Upon checkout, I crossed my fingers and prayed that I would get one out of the three nicer ones, but of course, with my luck, I ended up with none other than The Paramount.
I had every intention of vlogging this entire trip but that idea quickly went out the window upon landing as I was SUPER nauseated. I landed in JFK at just a few minutes before 8:00am Sunday and quickly made my way out to the ground transportation site and ordered my Uber. It took roughly 45 minutes to get into Midtown and I reached The Paramount at about 9:00AM. The Paramount is located between 7th and 8th on W46th and is a quaint little boutique hotel that has an impressively cozy and modern lobby, but that’s about it. I tried checking in even though check-in time isn’t until 4:00PM but hey, it doesn’t hurt to try. Obviously, there were no rooms available at the time but the front desk agent politely offered to assist with processing my information so that I can just drop by to pick up the key card later. She also made note of my contact number and assured me that I will get a call once the room was ready. I went over to their luggage storage to drop off my bag and made my way out to start the day.
I blindly started towards Madison Square Garden at W31st and 8th and snaked my way back up to Gregory’s Coffee on 7th and W50th. I ordered the “Morning Boost” here and it was absolutely delicious! It tasted somewhat like a berry yogurt blended with cornflakes, the perfect breakfast in-a-cup in my opinion. As I finished my smoothie, I had already made my way back to The Paramount at about 10:30AM and thought I’d ask to see if there were rooms available. I was informed by a different agent this time that the earliest available rooms would be at about 12:00PM if I’m lucky so I decided to just grab a seat in the lobby like the 20 or so other people who I assumed are also waiting for their room. At around 11:15AM, I figured I wasn’t going to get called anytime soon anyway and I remembered the Mr. asking me to try Xi’an Famous Foods (西安名吃) on W45th for him if I decide to wander off that way, so I did.
I am extremely challenged with a map. For what would’ve been a 7 minute walk, it took me roughly 15 minutes of going back and forth the same block looking for this eatery and I was on the wrong block the whole entire time (with GPS navigation). When I finally got to Xi’an Famous Foods, I walked up to find that it’s a nice little hole in the wall. I promptly ordered my food and grabbed a Chinese herbal tea (王老吉) from the fridge. As this is a self-service eatery, I quickly made my way towards the back only to find that there were no vacant seats, but there was, however, a nice little bar for you to just stand and eat at. I settled next to this gentleman who appeared to be really sweaty and thirsty as he was draining his entire bottle of ice cold water. It did not take me long to realize that he was actually suffering from the heat of his spicy noodles, and I found it extremely amusing that he had pretty much packed up the remaining 80% of his food to take out. Now, if there’s anything that bugs me more in a restaurant other than dogs and uncontrollable children, it’s people who can’t pick up after themselves at a self-service eatery. This guy literally left his tray with dirty plate, empty water bottle, and used tissues at the standing bar and just walked out the door with his packed up box. Not to mention, the guy who took my order also had to decline my tips because they’re “not allowed to accept tips anymore.” It was just really rude and inconsiderate of the patron in my opinion, to leave his trash everywhere at a place that doesn’t allow tipping and is also self-service (think, cafeteria or food court). Just my two cents.
After my meal, I walked back over to The Paramount and tucked myself into a cozy armchair where I completely knocked out. At about 2:30PM, I noticed employees calling out names to locate people whose rooms are ready. I waited patiently for my name to be called or even the aforementioned phone call that I was supposed to get. I walked up to the counter 15 minutes later (hopes not too high at this point) to ask again to see if I’m lucky enough to have my room ready. The agent was slightly confused after confirming that I had indeed already checked in earlier and then informed me that my room was in fact, ready for me. Thank goodness! So what happened to my call? Granted, the staff was generally really nice, their efficiency didn’t appear to be the greatest.
When I finally got to see my room, I was beyond underwhelmed. I did make note to keep my expectations low after skimming through the ratings on TripAdvisor and even looking at some of the pictures of the hotel on Google, but the room itself was still very much, depressing. I can’t understand how this place even made it onto the 4-star rating list. I mean to be fair, the room wasn’t exactly dirty but it most definitely wasn’t white-glove clean either – and the carpet should just honestly be burnt. At this point, I was too tired to continue grimacing so I basically face-planted onto the bed and took a nice little nap. I woke up at around 5:00PM to hop into the shower and get ready to meet up with a friend for dinner across the bridge in Astoria.
We dined at Kondo and it was easily one of the best Japanese cuisine experiences I’ve ever had. I was seated immediately even though my friend wasn’t here yet and the staff were really attentive. When my friend had arrived, we ordered a few items from the specials menu, a sushi platter from the standard menu, and basically bottomless hot sakes all night. Her husband joined us half way through the meal and it was overall a wonderful dinner. Everything was simply delicious!
I ordered UberPOOL to get back out to Times Square and the girl that I happened to have been pooling with was from San Diego and was for sure drunk out of her mind. We had a very interesting conversation regarding how we find spots to check out. She said she basically hit “search” and went down the list until she finds something worthy, I commented that she’s a true Californian and we had a wonderful time laughing and scaring the driver (jk, he wasn’t scared but he was amused). I walked around a little bit to digest and headed into Walgreens to grab a bottle of water and some snacks for the room. On my way towards the hotel, I couldn’t help but pop into Patzeria Pizza for a slice of margherita because hey, what’s a trip to New York without pizza? It was $4.75 for my slice given that it is Times Square and right next to a hotel. I have heard many great things about $1 slices but I’m only here for two days, as much as I would’ve loved to check out $1 slice joints, I simply did not have the time to hunt them down. Let me tell you, nothing is more New York than eating a slice of pizza while watching reruns of Friends while you’re in New York City. It was the best thing ever, the pizza was great! I honestly believe that literally any joint in NYC will have the best pizza ever outside of Italy.
I slept in just a tad until 10:00AM Monday before heading over to Ippudo for an early lunch. I am aware that we have one here in San Francisco and over at Berkeley, but if there’s one only two blocks away from me currently, why the hell would I make my way out to downtown or Berkeley to wait in line? I arrived at Ippudo at exactly 11:30AM to surprisingly find that there was no wait, at all. I ordered my food, ate, paid, and was out by 11:50AM.
After lunch, I decided to take 5th Avenue up to Central Park. I did pop into Longchamp with the intention of taking a closer look at one of the Le Pliage travel totes but ended up with a piece from the just-released Shayne Oliver collaboration that I heard nothing about, but was extremely intrigued by the style and design.
I basically walked all the way from Times Square to the South entrance of Central Park. I wandered into the park and weaved in and out on the East side. I took a quick break at the Alice in Wonderland site and basically people-watched for about 20 minutes. I continued on the East side over to The Met and attempted to go in and check it out but I got as far in as the lobby before deciding that I didn’t have enough time upon seeing the ridiculously long line of visitors waiting to purchase general admission. I went back into the park and walked up to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir where I took a few panoramics before strolling over to the West side. I sat and texted with the Mr. for about another 20 or so minutes before deciding that it’s time for my bladder to be emptied, this is where I found out that I was actually almost done with the park since I sent the Mr. my location and it marked me on 100th Street (Central Park runs from 59th to 110th).
I headed back over to Museum Mile and ordered an Uber to the closest Lady M that’s located on E78th and Park Avenue. This is a really cute boutique that seats roughly 20 people, more or less. I waited about 10 minutes for a table and promptly ordered a slice of Citron Mille Crepes and a pot of Jasmine tea. My CAKE GOD, it was delicious! The Citron flavor is only available in May, according to their menu and I am so delighted that I was able to try it. The flavor was super light and fresh, it had the perfect hint of citrus and zest and the pastry cream was not overpoweringly sweet. The twenty layers of thin crepes were so easy to fork through that I almost wanted to order a slice of the Green Tea flavor to try. The Jasmine tea complimented the Citron flavor extremely well and I am super sad that there is not a Lady M in San Francisco. The one thing that interrupted my afternoon tea time was a lady that had breezed in about 15 minutes after I was seated. She spoke rather loudly and had the audacity to ask the girl behind the counter if the cakes had been sitting there for a long time. She claimed that it was a treat for herself and she was only able to enjoy it once a month being that it is “very expensive.” WTF. If you’re honestly going to go out of your way to make such statements, please, go to a more “affordable” establishment instead. One would assume that if you come here every month, you would know to behave. I literally glanced over my shoulder to watch the scene unfold and shook my head in annoyance the entire time. I felt sorry for the girl for having to deal with this embarrassment, but she handled it extremely well.
Tea time was soon over and I ordered another Uber to head over to the Rimowa store to pick up some stickers. Sadly, they were all out of stickers. The associate did however, say that she’d be happy to mail one to me if I call back in a few months as they are currently rebranding. I doubt that my lazy ass will call and my luggage will just have to do without a NYC sticker. I went back to my hotel room to take a quick shower before heading back out to Korea Town for dinner.
On my way there, I passed by this stretch on Broadway called Broadway Bites. It was an interesting two blocks lined up with food stalls that I really wish I had the time and stomach capacity to try out, but I regretfully didn’t and just ended up snapping a video on my way back after dinner. I met up with the same friends at Pocha 32 (포차32) and boy were we full! This is a great place for adult groups as they have plenty of oversized dishes and delicious alcoholic beverages.
After dinner, I walked back to Times Square and went into the LINE FRIENDS store. I spent a good 45 minutes wandering in there because everything was just so darn cute. I bought a basketful of stationery and other stuff that I really don’t need but that’s okay, they’re cute. I headed back to my room to rest a bit and decided to go back down to the LINE FRIENDS store a second time to pick up even more unnecessary stuff. It was great.
This is the best part, so I’ve always said that as soon as I quit my job, I would immediately fly back to New York just for a hot dog. Well, I made it happen and the hot dog was absolutely revolting. I’m pretty sure I messed up because I think we got everything but a basic ass hot dog the last time we were here. Oh, well, at least I did it! I was actually so disappointed with the hot dog that I went to a different cart to try for some Halal food. I literally chose a random cart at a random corner and stood in line. Ten minutes later, the lady that was standing next to me (we lined up alongside the cart, so I would technically be next) decided to snake her way behind the guy that was waiting for his food (she’s now in the middle of foot traffic and literally in everyone’s way). As soon as he walked away the guy next to him started to inch forward but the bitch yelled out “actually, I was next, a JAI-RO please!” Wow. I’ve never seen anyone so fuckin rude. I was so flabbergasted that I just walked away while exclaiming loudly that she was fuckin rude (I’m a tad crazy, I know). The bitch wasn’t worth my time so I crossed the street to a different cart and happily ordered my delicious lamb gyro. 🙂
I spent the remainder of the night enjoying my food, watching Friends, packing, and conversing with the Mr. as his flight home from Vegas was delayed. I slept at roughly 3:00AM knowing that I had to get up at 7:00AM to catch my flight, poor judgement on my part. The next morning went by in a really cold breeze – all of NYC was blanketed in grey, much like San Francisco. JFK is literally the most depressing airport that I’ve ever been in and I spent a good two hours there. I was fortunate enough to witness a local going off on the phone at the poor agent at whatever airline she was dealing with – it was the highlight of my airport time.
Manhattan will always have a place in my heart as the perfect “alone time” city. I had a blast channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw and had obviously put her to work. I had so much fun wandering around by myself, reflecting, and walked off plenty of calories. The walkability of NYC is truly amazing and ranks above San Francisco in my opinion. I didn’t visit the Statue of Liberty nor Wall Street nor any of the other tourist destinations this time around since we’ve already been there previously. Though if I had a few more days, I definitely would’ve done more.
Thank you for the wonderful retreat, NYC!