When my best friend Rachel came to visit recently, I decided to treat us to a one-night staycation (and give her a brief respite from sleeping on my couch). But where to go? New York City is a trove of hotels raring to roll out the red carpet for a glorified pajama party. Eventually I settled on midtown’s iconic New York Palace (once the mansion of a 19th-century railroad baron, it’s now a member of the Dorchester Collection, topped with a skyscraping tower, and remarkably luxe).

Our room on the 54th-floor overlooked the crown of the original General Electric building and an almost diminutive-looking Waldorf-Astoria. Being girls, the first thing we did was sniff and sample our way through each and every Molton Brown amenity in the Art Deco bathroom (Freshmint Mouthwash? Like liquefied licorice! Emergency Eye Rescue? Don’t know why our eyes need rescuing, but we used it!).

The scale was a taunting menace, especially after dining in the hotel’s Tower Club (a buffet of complimentary food—and drink—overlooking St. Patrick’s spires). By the end of the night, we’d sung show tunes while scuttling up Fifth Avenue, drank martinis at the Plaza’s Oak Room, and even talked a horse and carriage driver into taking us around Central Park for just twenty bucks (less than half the usual price). I woke up the next day with a bit of a headache, but a morning laughing with Rachel was the perfect remedy. After all, what are friends for?

Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure.