Five things to do in Winter in New York City!
New York is a great place to visit in either spring, summer, autumn, or winter; each season will provide you with a slightly different impression of the city.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited New York in the midst of winter, and I loved it, despite freezing temperatures accompanied by abundant snowfalls – those wellies came in very useful!
Somehow the unrelenting cold, especially during nighttime, does not affect the dynamism of the city like it does in Europe. During the day, pedestrians scurry by en route to work or out and about doing their chores, undeterred by the treacherous ice and heaps of snow on the pavement. During the night, the city still pulses with contagious energy, which affects you as you pass by crowded bars and restaurants.
And another great thing about a winter visit is, of course, a lesser number of tourists, and hence cheaper hotel rates and flights!
On the day of my arrival, as I finished my lunch at all-time favourite seafood haunt, Lure Fishbar in Soho, the city was going for a nap under a thick blanket of fresh snow, with endless fat snowflakes drifting down from the sky. I was absolutely thrilled to start my visit with a mini-whiteout, especially since London seems to get snow every couple of years for about a day and a half… And with snow, New York is completely transformed, almost unrecognizable!
You might wonder: is there much to do in New York in wintertime, when the cold wants to bite you in every place imaginable and you have to wrap yourself up in many layers (yes, I am talking about wooly tights under jeans)?
Yes, there absolutely is!
Here are my five fun activities for freezing New York City:
Take advantage of your hotel (and do not feel guilty about it)
Freezing wintertime is the perfect excuse to lounge about your hotel room for a little longer than normally appropriate when travelling…Additionally, hotel rates are generally cheaper!
Checking out different hotels is one of my favourite aspects of travel – which can be testified by my almost uncontrollable excitement when I find and book the hotel of my dreams, followed by my anticipation (and counting down the days) of arriving there! I love how most hotels differ in their approach to their interior design. I love sleeping in different beds, testing out the softness of a mattress and the feel of the linen against my skin, and waking up to unusual surroundings and an unfamiliar view from my window in the morning. I love checking out mini-bars to see if they have some interesting treats inside…
New York is home to many fabulous hotels, hotels were I feel absolutely at home! Currently, my favourite hotel to spend my New York days and nights is the NoMad Hotel situated in the heart of it all in the NoMad (North of Madison Square) district on 28th and Broadway. This recently opened sumptuous hotel occupies a magnificent turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts building, which was been impeccably restored to its former glory by the French designer Jacques Garcia, who is also the interior architect of the super cool Hotel Costes in Paris.
The public spaces of the NoMad hotel, including an airy soaring centre atrium, library, cocktail bar, dining room, and rooftop all feature food and beverage by award-winning chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara of New York’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. The signature NoMad Restaurant is currently no.68 in The World’s 100 Best Restaurants.
The interior of the room that I stayed in was my perfect cup of tea: polished wooden floors, slightly faded intricate carpet, large stand-alone bath – mine was right next to the window, plush bed with the softest linen, original artwork. In a nutshell, I could have stayed there for ever…
Rates start from $395 USD. Sydell Group developed and own the hotel.
Go for a stroll in Central Park
Central Park turns into a gorgeous winter wonderland with a little help from the snow! Brace yourself for the cold, and spend a couple of joyful hours rambling about when the sun it shining amongst azure blue skies. Perhaps, you can even take advantage of the opportunity to go cross-country skiing or sledging, or have an animated snowball fight or two.
Visit as many museums as possible
Freezing outside temperatures mean that you can finally stop making excuses about visiting museums, and spend a few hours a day without feeling utterly guilty of wasting perfectly good weather! During my last visit, I set myself a challenge of running my own “New York Museum Marathon”, where I ended up going to all the museums I have also wanted to go to, but have somehow failed during my other eight visits.
Here is a short list of my favourite museums:
The Frick Collection – such a gem of a museum, which houses a handful of art masterpieces by Old Masters, including Vermeer, Titian, Hals Holbein: in a nutshell, the list is very long! The museum is housed in the former residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), which was designed by Thomas Hastings and constructed in 1913–14. Each room is decorated with period elements, and at first, before learning the fascinating history of the museum, I was very much confused about why some of the rooms looked like a typical 18th century French palace…
The Guggenheim – a must-see stop for any lover of contemporary art, which houses superb temporary exhibitions, as well as a wonderful permanent collection. And don’t forget about the fantastic futuristic design of the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, and a landmark work of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical building, the Guggenheim was conceived as a “temple of the spirit”. During my last visit, I went to the opening of the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition on a Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara (it is on until 5th May 2015). Such impressive body of work.
Tenement Museum – I love this slightly unusual museum, which offers a variety of guided, interactive tours around impeccably restored apartments of past residents New York’s Lower East side of varying ethnicities and backgrounds from different time periods.
New York is home to far many good restaurants, and going in the middle of winter is a good reason for eating more than usually needed – you need to keep yourself warm after all! And it also means that you can take advantage of the welcoming warmth of any eating establishment.
Just a few of my favourite places:
Maialino – wonderful, rustic Italian within the Gramercy Hotel.
Ippudo – for the best ramen in the city.
Jean-Georges – a fine-dining paradise, housed within Trump International Hotel, perfect for a special meal. The food is exquisite and perfectly presented, and service is top notch. I still day dream about their foie-gras ravioli with shaved truffle on top. Decadence at its best.
Kyo Ya – the most authentic fine dining Japanese in East Village outside of Japan that I have ever come across.
Lobster Place – favourite stop at chelsea market purveying all sorts of delicious seafood, including fresh and very healthy looking maine lobsters.
Van Leeuwen – best ice cream in the city , and you must try their vegan chocolate and pistachio sundae – full of goodness, unlike your typical ice-cream. And yes, it is possible to enjoy ice-cream in the winter!
Aurora – simple italian in Soho: a perfect lunch stop inbetween shopping.
Clinton Street Baking Co. – yummy, Mexican inspired brunch (and other meals) in the Lower East side.
One of the best and most amusing things to do in the midst of New York winter is ice-skating, and the city offers some great spots to do so. My favourite place is the ice rink at the Rockefeller Centre, but you can also go to Central Park, which unfortunately gets too crowded with children, or the Standard Plaza just by the High Line in the Meatpacking District.
And a little photo diary to finish off my post about wonderful wintertime in New York City…