My feet hate me right now. They’re screaming, “How could you do this to us?!” It feels as thought we have crammed half of NYC into one day’s worth of walking – and I’m almost positive we have. Our day began with tradition: breakfast at the Evergreen Diner, which serves the best chocolate chip pancakes that I’ve ever had. Once we’re finished up, we decide to slowly make our way over to a site inspection that I’ve set up at the Setai Fifth Avenue, a Cappella hotel and Virtuoso property. We stop along the way at Bryant Park’s holiday market, which really gets us in the Christmas spirit. The market consists of tons of little outdoor pods selling a random assortment of gifts. While we don’t buy anything, it’s cool to check out, plus it gets me pumped for the holiday market in Grand Central that we’ll be visiting tomorrow.
After wandering around a few shops on 5th, we head to the Setai to meet Erica, my contact at the hotel. She’s a really cool girl, about my age, who’s originally from Atlanta. We connect based on our Southern roots and equally perky personalities and she tours us around the hotel. The Setai is NYC’s newest luxury property – it just opened at the beginning of November. Erica informs us that the hotel has done a ton of research to best serve their clientele, which is primarily the business traveler. Their research has paid off: the entire hotel is sleek and sophisticated, with dark wood paneling and modern flourishes throughout. Even though it’s a business-targeted property, it’s certainly not intimidating. It manages to feel quiet and homey, especially in the apartment suites (complete with televisions built into the bathroom mirrors). I’d definitely stay here, if for no other reason than the spa, which takes up the entire fourth floor. The spa boasts features like customized showers (pick your faucets and your lights!), an ice room, and treatments that correspond with the phases of the moon. Yes, please. I’ll take one for each moon.
Once we depart from the Setai, we take the subway to Chinatown, which is a staple to our New York trips. Hearing the words, “PradaGucciLouisVuittonCoachChanel,ma’am,PradaPradaPrada,” will just never get old. We race through the shops, energized by our haggling powers and the need to look at the same scarves in a different order from every single vendor on Canal Street. I finally find the one bracelet that I’ve been looking for in a little shop, and we haggle the salesman down to $10. When I hand him my ten, he hands me back two ones and smiles. “You first customer!” he proclaims, and I’m touched – that’s definitely something that has never happened to us before. Christmas cheer.
Once we’ve gotten our fill of knock-off accessories, we walk through Soho to Little Italy (I hope I’m getting all of these neighborhoods correct…) for lunch at Lombardi’s, New York’s #1 pizza place. I can tell you, it definitely lives up to it’s reputation, and I’m not just saying this because my stomach was eating itself at this point.
Our pizza-fueled energy takes us back through Soho for some shopping and again to Chinatown to buy Josh a souvenir. The energy dies quickly on our subway ride back to the hotel, so we stop to rest for about an hour before it’s time to find our dinner place. While nice, the way-too-honest concierge tells us that he’s just using Google to look up a restaurant because he’s not familiar with the area at all. I appreciate the help, but a human being concierge is actually supposed to tell me the things that Google can’t (and here’s an instant plug as to why you should choose a well-versed travel agent like myself over Expedia). We decide on Azalea’s, a dimly-lit Italian restaurant that we’ve liked in the past; it’s definitely not a bad decision. Their lobster risotto made me fall in love with everything risotto, and they had it again tonight as a special. Yum!
Once we’re outside the restaurant and on our way to Rockefeller Center, we notice the faint snow flurries that were indecipherable from our window-seat in the restaurant. As we’re walking, it begins flurrying more vigorously – perfect timing for when we reach the Rockefeller Christmas tree. With the decorations, ice skating, and tickets to the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in hand, we note that there’s really nothing like New York at Christmas. It’s magical on its own, but the added holiday spirit just set it over the top.
The Christmas Spectacular is even better than the first time we saw it (probably because our seats are only seven rows from the stage). What made the Christmas show even more spectacular? Coming out to an even snowier evening. This might be a problem in the morning, but for now it’s beautiful – and officially Christmas!