Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do It. New York travel.

In a recent conversation with fellow blogger Ms. Chau Tu about traveling to New York, I remembered a few of my favorite places to stay, eat, drink, and visit. Spring and the upcoming summer are an ideal time to visit New York. It's beautiful, fun, and, if you do it right, reasonable. Here are a few places that made me fall in love with New York City.

Stay here.

The East Village Bed & Coffee is a very affordable hotel, that gives visitors the sense of living in a New York apartment building. This place has great location in New York's East Village, and is near tons of bars, restaurants, theaters, and jazz clubs. The building was transformed from an apartment building with three different flats, to a pretty excellent hotel. Each room has a different theme with an Afghan, Mexican, French, and Buddhist-themed rooms. Pictured here is the Black & White room. The owner is really nice, and each level has a full kitchen with a fridge, if you wanted/needed to do some cooking. Rooms are between $125-$155/night.

More recently, I was planning a trip to New York and found another adorable/affordable gem: The Sugar Hill Harlem Inn.

On the other side of the borough in Harlem, each room at this inn is themed after a different jazz musician. Pictured are Louie's and Mile's rooms, respectively. The hotel has also made a pledge to sustainability, and advertises itself as a "green hotel."

This place is said to be close to tons of classic New York jazz clubs, the Jazz Foundation, and the Met's Cloisters. For those who want to make the trip over to the Garden State, this place is a great location, both in Manhattan and close enough to jump over to Jersey -- if anyone would want to go to Jersey. Rates are about $125-$145/night.

Eat Out.

Back to the East Village, my favorite place for a New York bagel is The Bagel Cafe and Ray's Pizza. The bagels here are soft, and come with every kind of spread imaginable. The coffee is also wonderfully fresh, and the prices are astonishingly cheap. It's also near an integral part of New York's counterculture history, close to the former home of 1960s crazy person, Yippie! and creator of the Free Store Abbie Hoffman.

Another excellent New York restaurant is Max Brenner -- something you have to see to believe. Like a more classy version of Willy Wanka, Max Brenner is a man devoted to all things chocolate.

Brenner has crafted several different glasses to optimize the chocolate drinking experience. My favorite is the white chocolate hot cocoa, with hits of rose, that hails all the way from Trinidad served in one of The Bald Man's crafted hug mugs. There are also tons of candy and chocolate-flavored cocktails that are unfathomably delicious, and excellent food is served here as well.

One bar that pairs New York history and amazing drinks is the East Village's KGB Bar. Back when the Lower East Side was home to communist Ukrainians, the Reds would gather at this former-home-now-bar.

All the commi propaganda still hangs on the walls, including portraits of some well known party leaders. It's a bit hard to find (as any self-respective subversive hangout would be), and is upstairs in a walkup. You'd have to be looking to be able to find this place. I really loved the selection of local brews served here, and the mix of New Yorkers of all ages, not just cool under-40s gave this place some legitimacy as far as I'm concerned.

Check It.

For those going within the next three days of this post, Marina Abramovic's exhibit at MOMA is so controversial, you can't not go. With naked people filling the museum's exhibition space it at the very least is worth seeing for all the hype.

But for those going after May 31, if I was given my choice of any New York museum it would be the Met. It has to be the largest museum I have ever been to with amazing collections. The first time I was there, the Met had a photo collection honoring the (at the time) recently deceased Susan Sontag, giving the museum a permanent place in my heart. It's also pay-as-you-wish (!) but you might get some funny looks from museum employees for not paying the full amount.

-- Lauren Williams

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