New York City can be dazzling – the lights, the sounds, the traffic, the bustling masses of people, and that incredible skyline. But if you don’t have a ton of time, exploring the full breadth of the city is impossible. If you only have a day or two, focusing your time on one local neighborhood – and especially one burrow – can really make it a stress-free enjoyable experience.
With only 18 hours and some of that time devoted to NYFW, there was little opportunity to take in what SoHo had to offer. And this was a last-minute trip, so we had to get creative in our planning.
We stayed at the Courtyard New York Manhattan/SoHo because of its proximity to the fashion show, and honestly, I wasn’t expecting very much beyond the standard of the big chain names. But I was definitely wrong.
This is a hotel that prides itself on service, and it was made obvious shortly after I’d made the reservations. I received an email from Nicholas, the general manager reaching out to let me know his personal contact information in case I needed any information or special assistance. I shot back asking for recommendations of close quiet spots to hit for meals, and he got their Courtyard resident foodie on the task, who had quite a few great recommendations for breakfast, all in easy walking distance of the hotel:
- Dante (Italian)
- Jack’s Wife Freda (Mediterranean)
- 12 Chairs (Middle Eastern, American)
- Hudson Clearwater (American)
When we arrived in the evening, we pulled right up to the front of the hotel, checked in (which literally took about 15 seconds because I’d pre-checked in with Marriott’s app), and paid for valet. That’s one thing you’re not going to like anywhere in NYC. Parking. It’s a beast. And after struggling for a couple of trips to find and keep good parking where you don’t have to constantly move your car, we gladly willingly pay the steep parking fees. At least at Courtyard, they offer valet and from the moment my bags leave the car, it’s somebody else’s logistical problem.
The staff were all very friendly, the décor modern, the room felt relatively spacious compared to other NYC hotel stays, although I’m sure it wasn’t actually that much bigger. Upon request, they gave us a room on a high floor with a view, which was so nice to walk in to after a long drive. The bed was so comfortable, the room was very clean, and I felt completely at home. A nice perk is also that the subway entrance is right around the corner. We didn’t need to use it, but it’s pretty convenient if you’re looking to venture beyond the neighborhood and don’t want the high cost of a taxi.
From there, we pretty much dropped our bags and went straight to the task of figuring out where we were going for dinner. We scored some last minute reservations at City Winery, which was a wine bar with an on-site winery. Great concept, especially when we saw that their barrel room offers 11 wines on tap with no preservatives or added sulfites. There are two sides to the venue – a concert side and a bar side, and we were just coming for a quick dinner, so we opted for the bar side. When we got there, it was cozy, warmly lit, but by cozy I mean very, very small. Like, don’t move your arms too much while speaking, because you might knock into someone walking by you because there is no room kind of small. And really, in New York, you can kind of get past that, if the food and the service make up for it. On a cold night, cozy’s not so bad, right?
Well, the food was good, but the service not so much. We ordered drinks and waited. And waited. We literally watched a few of the wait staff hang out up at the bar. While waiting for our drinks. Awkwardly. After finally getting them, one of the cocktails was incredibly sour. So sour, it couldn’t have been made by the recipe standards. We both tasted it, and it was bad. The server never asked how the drinks were or if she could replace it. After ordering our food, my husband said something about not caring for the drink, and the server either ignored him or didn’t hear him. But either way, she didn’t make much of an effort to actually make eye contact, so he couldn’t really get/keep her attention after our food orders had been placed. The disappearing act happened here quite a bit after that.
When the food arrived, things got a bit better. I ordered butternut squash ravioli, which was probably the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in months. The ravioli was served in a brown butter sauce that gave it a rich, nutty, complex flavor that was addictive. And each ravioli had this great mix of cheese and breadcrumbs on top that added the perfect amount of crunchy texture. I literally could not stop myself. Mr. Luxe had the scallops and pork belly, which was served like an aromatic stew – the meat so tender and perfectly cooked. We shared a side order of sautéed brussel sprouts, which were slightly undercooked and the sauce was a bit shallow. We both liked the spicy Sriracha style sauce going on, but it just sat as a thin layer on top. So it probably would have been more successful as a marinade, with more time to soak into the leaves. Still, those main dishes killed it.
From there, we grabbed an Uber and headed to my favorite shop in the entire world to get macarons. I mean, these are even better than the ones I had in France. But alas, they were closed almost a full hour before their sign says they’re supposed to be. Total fail! Not to be deterred from our quest for sweets, we ended up at nearby By Suzette who WERE open(!!) for delicious crepes that didn’t disappoint. I ordered the nutella while the hubs got the nutella and strawberry – both were a fantastic little reminder of our delicious time in Paris. And the guys behind the counter were very friendly. Great spot to grab a treat.
The next morning we were up early for the fashion show, followed by a walk back in some surprise snow. We ducked into a chocolate shop, Jacques Torres, right around the corner from the hotel to get some hot chocolate. And aaahhhh, it was so good. Melted right from the bar, mixed with some milk and whatever other wonderful things (if anything) they put in there. So cold and wet with snow outside, that hot chocolate was perfect.
And that was that. We checked out, ending our 18 hour dash in SoHo. It went by way too fast, but overall we enjoyed it and can’t wait to take more trips like this.