A Facebook Tour of NYC
Insider recommendations are the lifeblood of a good trip. Everyone wants to know the little neighborhood gem favored by locals, the nondescript door you should open rather than walk on by—because someone whose opinion you trust told you so.
For years while traveling I collected business cards and jotted down notes for the stories I was reporting and for my personal blackbook of favorites. Now, though I’m not wholly fluent, I love being able to communicate the things that I’m excited about right in the moment through social media outlets—and to spontaneously act on recommendations for where to go next. The bubble I used to travel in has expanded into a river of information flowing both ways.
Best of all, I can find out what excites you, the community of Travel + Leisure. Over the course of a few recent days, I set out on an experiment in my hometown, New York City, with Travel + Leisure fans as my guides and Facebook as our facilitator.
I chose to concentrate on three lively neighborhoods—Chelsea, Nolita, and Williamsburg—and began by asking for your hotel recommendations. The only advance reservations I made were at two hotels that you’d suggested.
So I woke up one morning of the experiment at the Dream Downtown—thanks to you—and set out to explore, checking in with you periodically for more tips on where to turn next. I’m always curious, and my experiences affirmed that you are, too (and knowledgeable as well).
In search of a breakfast spot near the High Line, I opted for Cookshop after seeing the suggestions from two T+L fans (“My favorite neighborhood resto,” one posted to Facebook). I understand why after enjoying what can only be called the consummate American morning meal: fried eggs with sausage, bacon, grits, and a buttermilk biscuit.
En route to another reader recommendation, I came across an establishment barely one week old and rare as hen’s teeth: a coffee shop fronting a speakeasy. It was a reminder that there’s always something new to discover, even in your own backyard, and that you shouldn’t get your head too buried in your smartphone.
Wandering New York City took on a new vibrancy knowing the T+L community was not only following but leading me. Read on for the results: the ultimate travel itinerary for three exciting city neighborhoods.
And which city should I explore next? Share your suggestions in the comments below, and keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter for updates—and to help me plan my next trip.
Day 1: Chelsea Dream Downtown
Day 1: ChelseaCookshop
10:08 a.m.: “My favorite neighborhood resto,” one Facebook user wrote. Order the “Cookshop breakfast”: fried eggs with sausage, bacon, grits, and a buttermilk biscuit. Breakfast for two $38.
Day 1: Chelsea Kiehl’s
11:20 a.m.: Beauty and skin-care emporium with a devoted following. Look for the free photo booth: one wall is papered with insta-portraits, another with neon. 400 W. 14th St.; 212/337-0406.
Day 1: Chelsea Stone Street Coffee Company
11:56 a.m.: Linger long enough to chat with the friendly barista and he may give you a daytime peek at what lies behind a discreet door: the Bathtub Gin speakeasy-style bar. 132 Ninth Ave.; 646/559-1671; coffee for two $8.
Day 1: Chelsea Le Grainne Café
12:35 p.m.: A suggestion from a Facebook user. The menu is resolutely French over-easy: crêpes, onion soup, croque monsieur, French toast. Best for brunch or lunch. 183 Ninth Ave.; 646/486-3000; lunch for two $30.
Day 1: Chelsea Printed Matter
2:07 p.m.: Everything is by artists—i.e., provocative to pretentious. The place to find ephemera that would never see the light of day in anything but a nonprofit bookstore. 195 10th Ave.; 212/925-0325.
Day 1: ChelseaHigh Line
3:16 p.m.: Architecture and urban planning that makes you feel relaxed, inspired, oxygenated, and taller than a giraffe. Democratic, sophisticated, and wholesome, it does New Yorkers proud.
Day 1: ChelseaStandard Grill
6:45 p.m.: Make your way south on the High Line with reviving sustenance here as your goal. Dinner for two $100.
Day 1: Chelsea Bathtub Gin
9:00 p.m.: No, the cocktails aren’t exclusively gin-based, though there is a copper bathtub in the bar—filled with patrons more often than liquor. One Facebook comment: “A true gem of a place with no attitude.” 132 Ninth Ave.; 646/559-1671; drinks for two $20.
Day 2: Soho/NolitaMondrian SoHo
9:45 a.m.: Stay here for a great location, plus a lobby that calls to mind a slick version of Dr. Seuss and an entrance arbor that “looks like a secret garden,” as one user wrote.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita La Colombe Torrefaction
10:24 a.m.: Ceramic Deruta cups and saucers to rival the latte art. Here, coffee is coffee, not a flavored confection—and one size fits all. 270 Lafayette St.; 212/625-1717; coffee for two $9.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Intersection of Howard and Crosby Streets
11:00 a.m.: Haute shopping crossroads, with boutiques de Vera, Michele Varian, Amaridian, and Opening Ceremony supplying endless sensory stimulation. De Vera, 1 Crosby St.; 212/625-0838. Michele Varian, 27 Howard St.; 212/343-0033. Amaridian, 31 Howard St.; 917/463-3719. Opening Ceremony, 35 Howard St.; 212/219-2688.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Parm/Torrisi Italian Specialties
1:18 p.m.: More than justified the online praise. Oh, what chicken parm, prosciutto, and mortadella; so good you’ll want to hit Parm for lunch and head next door to Torrisi for dinner. 248–250 Mulberry St.; 212/965-0955; lunch for two $40; dinner for two $100.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Market NYC
3:04 p.m.: The high brick wall of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is the backdrop for stalls of artisan goods. Look for leather and wool totes from Grey56 and delicate gold chains by Guenevere Rodriguez. 248 Mulberry St.; themarketnyc.com; open Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Thomas Sires
4:36 p.m.: Other shops should take a cue from this space packed with bright gifts and artful house-label women’s wear. Bonus: spacious dressing rooms. 243 Elizabeth St.; 646/692-4472.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Jay Kos
5:22 p.m.: Everything is dandy at Kos’s haberdashery. Where else can you find a shopkeeper who’s been known to cook for customers while they try on suede bucks in candy colors? 293 Mott St.; 212/319-2770.
Day 2: Soho/Nolita Imperial No. Nine
7:27 p.m.: Greenhouse turned crystal palace: the ultimate housekeeping challenge. Good for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Mondrian SoHo; drinks for two $22.
Day 3: Williamsburg, Brooklyn Smorgasburg
10:36 a.m.: “Lowbrow, delicious, belly-filling delights” was one person’s Facebook comment. Come hungry to see newbies hawking jams, jerky, and java at open-air tables alongside chefs who’ve cooked at Craft and Fatty Crab. In its outdoor location through Nov. 19. 27 N. Sixth St.; brooklynflea.com; open Saturdays only.
Day 3: Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bakeri
12:15 p.m.: Storefront with a massive counter and female bakers dressed, Rosie the Riveter–style, in coveralls and kerchiefs. 150 Wythe Ave.; 718/388-8037; pastries for two $10.
Day 3: Williamsburg, Brooklyn Whiskey Shop
12:41 p.m.: Tiny, vertical space with, count ’em, 99 kinds of whiskey stacked to the rafters.
Day 3: Williamsburg, Brooklyn Isa
1:30 p.m.: The talent here lies not only in the kitchen but also in the design. If you want to know where the curve is headed, follow the folks who brought you Manhattan’s Freemans and Peels restaurants. 348 Wythe Ave.; 347/689-3594; lunch for two $75.
Day 3: Williamsburg, BrooklynGolden Calf
3:13 p.m.: Owner Natalie Vichnevsky has an eye for color and form and an obvious sense of humor. You’re sure to find a gift among her collection of furniture and accessories.
Day 3: Williamsburg, Brooklyn Brook Farm General Store
4:39 p.m.: Behind a nondescript façade, vintage and new housewares with retro appeal—all true to the store’s utilitarian-chic vibe. Even the name of the resident beagle is right on: Nutmeg. 75 S. Sixth St.; 718/388-8642.
Day 3: Williamsburg, BrooklynMarlow & Daughters and Marlow & Sons
5:25 p.m.: Marlow & Daughters is an artisan butcher shop where sausages are crafted daily up front and gourmet dog food is made in-house ($6 a pint!).
7 p.m.: At its accompanying restaurant, East Coast oysters, creamy pâté, and brick chicken so flavorful and succulent you could eat it every day. This is “last meal” material.