New York Two Ways: Contemporary and Historic in Times Square
By Melissa Coleman
When visiting New York City, I’ve found it helpful to narrow the multitude of lodging options into two types, 1) the contemporary, large, and hip, and 2) the historic, small, and romantic. On some recent stays near Times Square, option one was perfect for a high energy reunion with high school friends, and two for a romantic getaway with my boyfriend. Here’s why they were just right for each, with itineraries to match.
Part One: Contemporary, Large, and Hip
High Energy Friends Reunion at the Hyatt Centric
It’s always a celebration to get together with high school girlfriends, especially in New York. The four of us arrived on a Friday at dusk to meet in an enthusiastic reunion over Negronis at the Centric’s T45 bar. We were happy to be together, the whole weekend ahead of us, at the center of Manhattan.
This is also the concept behind Hyatt’s Centric brand, a modern boutique approach for travelers who prefer to stay in the middle of the action. Opened in 2014, the Manhattan location’s 487 rooms and 54 floors are around the corner from Times Square on a relatively quiet block of West 45th Street. The central location allowed us to journey uptown and downtown with ease. Add to that, the bar and terrace on the roof offered a chance to sip the highest hotel cocktail in Manhattan.
Standard King at Hyatt Centric Times Square
When we checked in with the young and friendly front desk staff, we found the hotel nearly booked, so I was glad I’d already upgraded to a “room with a view.” Our room on the 23rd floor boasted two queen beds and floor-to-ceiling window views of the Harold and Mirriam Steinberg Center at eye level, and St Mary the Virgin church far below. The decor was simple and minimalistic, with white bedspreads, casual fittings, and a large desk and TV. At 350 square feet, it felt plenty sizable for the four of us, including the large bathroom that doubled as a yoga space in the mornings.
Bar 54, Korean BBQ, and Pub Hangout
Our ears actually popped on the elevator up to the 54th floor to get a drink on the roof at Bar 54. It took a moment to adjust to the altitude and sense of vertigo, but wow, you can see river to river from the terrace, as well as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings and more. At $27 a pop, the drinks are the cost of admission, but we considered it worthwhile as the atmosphere is “elevated” and we got our best group photo of the trip with skyscrapers in the background.
After the roof, we took a quick Uber to Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, 10 minutes away in Koreatown, to meet the rest of our gang for Korean BBQ. It’s perfect for a group dinner, as parties of six or more are prix fixe, with selections of meat, vegetables, and sides selected by the waiter and placed on the grill as needed throughout the meal.
The restaurant is vibrant and popular, but a little loud for intimate conversation, so bellies full, we migrated to The Ginger Man pub four blocks away on 36th to settle in and catch up. With 70-plus beers and a roomy area in the back that never got too crowded, suddenly it was well past midnight, but an easy walk back to the hotel along Bryant Park and the still-festive midtown streets.
The Met, Central Park, Times Square, Greenwich Village for Dinner & Nightlife
After a good night’s rest (the rooms are very quiet and beds comfortable) we Ubered uptown for breakfast at Pain Quotidian and then on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before we knew it, we’d spent much of the day wandering the Met’s many shows and admiring the holiday decorations. It was 3 pm by the time we broke away for refreshments at the Loeb Boathouse Cafe in Central Park, always a great spot to hang out over drinks with friends and watch the light fade across the lake.
Enjoying a late-afternoon buzz, we welcomed the 30-minute walk back to the hotel through Central Park and midtown. The excitement increased as we neared Times Square’s Saturday night crowds. We caught the madness and angled to see ourselves on the screens and took selfies with street performers dressed as Spiderman and the Statue of Liberty.
When we tired of Times Square mania, we could as quickly escape to the quiet of our hotel room for a rest before dinner. Deciding between Via Carota or Babbo, two popular restaurants near Washington Square Park, we opted for Babbo because they take reservations, as opposed to Via Carota’s walk-in only policy. A 20-minute taxi ride landed us in the coziness of Greenwich Village and the low lights and linen tablecloths of Babbo’s renovated carriage house. Despite the recent change in chef, we found the pastas and service as fantastic as ever, if not more so.
For the nightlife portion of the evening, we met a friend and her daughter at The Happiest Hour, a Greenwich bar with a fun Millennial crowd and interesting cocktails. From there, our friend’s hip daughter knew the doorman at Paul’s Baby Grand, a living room style nightclub in Tribeca, where we danced and fraternized with the well-sauced clientele until the early hours of the morning.
Brunch & Farewells
After far too little sleep by 10 am, we found a perfect hangover helper around the corner in brunch at The Red Flame Diner, a Greek greasy spoon with all-you-can-eat prices. But hold the Bloody Marys this time, please. Though bemoaning that we never made it to yoga, or the Peloton studio for a spin class or even the Centric’s fitness center, we unanimously considered the whirlwind weekend a success.
The hotel was just the right combo of minimalistic style, great views, and a central location that allowed us to check lots of boxes in a short amount of time, all while catching up and sharing stories with old friends.
Rates start at $399.
Hyatt Centric Times Square – https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong – https://baekjeongnyc.com
The Ginger Man – http://www.gingerman-ny.com
Pain Quotidian – https://www.lepainquotidien.
Metropolitan Museum of Art – https://www.metmuseum.org
The Loeb Boathouse – http://www.
Babbo – https://www.babbonyc.com
The Happiest Hour – https://www.happiesthournyc.
Paul’s Baby Grand – http://www.
The Red Flame Diner – http://www.theredflamediner.
Part Two: Historic, Small, and Romantic
A Holiday Getaway at the Algonquin
Melissa Coleman has written for publications including the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, and National Geographic Traveler. She is the author of This Life is In Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres and a Family’s Heartbreak, a New York Times bestselling memoir and finalist for the New England Book Award, about growing up during the 1970s back-to-the-land movement. She lives in Maine and can be found at melissacoleman.com.