Day one in New York, New York!

5th Avenue NYC, Katie Heath KALANCHOE

New York, so fabulous they named it twice. Arriving, we immediately threw our bags down in our gorgeous Hotel Hendricks one of the Preferred Hotels. We had booked a Superior Double. Having done our research, we knew the rooms were on the smaller side and wanted as much room as possible. Arriving in the room however, we discovered we were on a lower floor (7) so called down to reception to see if we could move to a higher floor. The staff were so obliging and within minuted we were climbing the floors to room 22 where we booked into a Superior King instead. Actually, the space around the beds was roughly the same in both rooms, so I would recommend booking a Superior King. The view was worth the move, with uninterrupted views of the Empire State and some lower New York Penthouses.

Besides the view, the room contained a mirror and shelf as you walk in, with a beautiful white marble shower room on one side and a wardrobe on the other. The bed was deliciously comfortable and a desk and chair nestled just under the window, should you want to work during your stay.

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The room contained all the amenities you should need during a stay. Such as their own brand shampoo, conditioner, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, coffee and tea facilities and dressing gowns. The Hendricks had even thought of the little things like USB slots next to the bed. The window was also able to open which I thought was a huge plus considering we were so high up. The only negatives we came across was the brightness of the room, as it’s quite a low light. Also the size of the room, as we struggled to find space for our two hold cases, cabin cases and hand luggage, but I am aware we’re also not light packers!

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With Times Square on our doorstep, we decided to throw ourselves in at the deep end and head there first. We quickly hit the New York pace as it’s exactly what we’re used to in London. Making our way through the uncharacteristically empty Times Square. Which I was actually surprised to discover is a street rather than a square. The energy was fabulous and I had Alicia  Keys’ ‘Empire State Of Mind’ on play in my head the whole time we were walking around.

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We continued walking and shortly found ourselves on 5th Avenue. Via a dollar Pizza vendor (for Ben – it became a daily occurrence) and then chanced upon the New York Public Library. Now, watching many cult American TV and films, you’ll have come across NYPL at some point. Most notably for me, the girls eating their lunch on the steps in Gossip Girl, Big standing up Carrie on their wedding day in SATC and 90% of The Day After Tomorrow. I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to explore such an iconic building. So we made our way up those beautiful imposing steps and into the warmth of the library.

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There’s something so comforting about being in a library. I love the idea that a book could have been sitting on a shelf for years. Until someone comes along and plucks it out from between its neighbours. Ready to discover the knowledge and inspiration it has to offer. Stepping into a library is equal to standing in a computer with all the information flying around you, you just have to grab the right book.

There are a few different spaces within the Library to explore. Although I’m aware only a tiny section is actually open to the public. The corridors are bustling with activity, but as soon as you enter one of the work areas, it drops off immediately. Silence is only interrupted by the sound of pages being turned and tapping fingers on keyboards. If I lived in New York I would definitely work here. It’s impossible not to feel inspired, sitting under the great canopy of clouds in the mural across the entire ceiling. Surrounded by thousands of novels, encyclopaedias and scripts.

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The library is such a calm amongst the hub and noise of New York. But we jumped back out into it all anyway. With the sun going down behind more sky scrapers than I’ve ever seen. We made our way back to the hotel to change before popping out to catch up with friends.

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Nick and Caila are the sweetest, positive bundle of energy and it’s such a joy to be around them. They very kindly invited us for dinner in their NYC neck of the woods.

We started the evening at GATO in New York’s NoHo area and dined on a delicious feast of Mediterranean inspired food, drink and design. The restaurant is owned by Chef Bobby Flay and Laurence Kretchmer. Who previously owned the Spanish restaurant BOLO, before the building was torn down to make way for a new development. The name GATO came to Flay whilst he was waiting to be shown around the space, before they created the restaurant. A ginger cat walked through Flay’s feet and the name came to him. Whilst the cat hasn’t been since, the name stuck. Flay decided to adopt a ginger Maine Coon who has since become the official face of the restaurant.

The restaurant was packed when we arrived (a pretty solid accolade for a Tuesday night). But we settled into a table with Nick and Caila and ordered a feast. It doesn’t take much to understand why Flay was the first ever Chef to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The food is delicious, with ample choice to suit our Vegan/Veggie preferences.

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A few cocktails down, Caila suggested we carry on the party. We don’t get to see each other very often, so wanted to make the most of it and all piled into a taxi towards China Town. We were dropped off in a quiet street with not much around. Caila ushered us towards a quiet alley. Containing nothing but an intimidating man sitting on a chair outside a door at the end.

As soon as we approached he broke into a wide smile and greeted us all inside Apotheke. We were immediately seated at a table, our coats taken and menus given to us. What followed was what I can only explain as the best first night introduction to New York. EVER. A live Brass Band serenaded us with originals as well as covers of songs. We absorbed the atmosphere, whilst sipping some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. We danced the night away. Appearing back into the alley, sometime in the early hours, ready for our taxi home.

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