Sleeping Around NYC: Kixby
By Shari Hartford
There are areas in midtown New York City that were once vast wastelands. Street after street of sad nondescript office buildings, with entire floors to rent, interspersed with the occasional coffee shop or bodega–the 30s, from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue is one such cluster. But a funny thing has happened on the way to prosperity. Many of these utilitarian but sturdy buildings have been gutted, repurposed and converted to lovely hotels or apartment buildings. Once the center for a thriving and bustling garment industry that is sadly on the demise, the buildings have been snatched up and respectfully given a new life.
Such is the case for the Kixby hotel, a lovely little gem on 35th Street, right off Fifth Avenue. For tourists and business people alike, you can’t get more centrally located. It’s mere steps from Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, the Empire State Building and just about every subway line there is.
But there’s more to Kixby than location. My quiet and spacious king room was tranquil with blue/grey walls, decorative molding, and hardwood floors. The great lighting, good storage, and terrific bathroom made in-room time comfy. But get out of the room and explore Kixby and you’ll be in for many surprises.
Start with the unexpectedly current workout room. Yes, it’s the usual tiny hotel gym, but this one has Pelotons instead of the ubiquitous treadmills. The hotel also has a small pantry, with coffee, tea, and a microwave, should you want a little tea time snack.
The next surprise is the spacious rooftop bar (Lookup) which serves drinks and light fare during the warm weather months. I stepped out in the dead of winter and found myself standing quite underneath the Empire State Building. At night the view and the lights are breathtaking.
When you can’t be outside, head inside to Lot 15, the lobby-level bar. The bespoke cocktails are terrific, the crowd lively and the bar menu is varied and generous. I highly recommend the yummy Margaritas and the Drunken Rose Shrimp were large and perfectly poached.
Admittedly New York City is a food mecca and eating in your hotel is usually not the way to experience what the city has to offer. But make an exception for Black Tap. The open kitchen venue was packed the night I visited and for very good reason. There are 12 burger choices, salads, chicken sandwiches, and small plates. I had the very best turkey burger ever…moist meat on a fresh bun and topped with smashed avocado, melty cheese, and yummy truffle mayo. The sweet potato fries were freshly fried and crispy. But the crown jewels of Black Tap are the shakes. You cannot leave without sampling one, or more. My friend and I decided to share so we ordered one coffee milkshake (of the nine options) and one CrazyShake.
The CrazyShakes are the house specialty and are eye-popping confections of shakes, toppings, cake slices and a wide variety of sweet add ons. There’s even a vegan option. We chose the Cookie Shake: vanilla frosted rimmed glass with cookie crumbles topped with a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, crumbled cookies, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. OMG! Easily enough for two people to share and possibly three. I can see Black Tap as a late-night stop after a concert or a game at the Garden. Should you wish to go a completely different route, there’s also a full bar with 16 craft beers on tap, 16 bottled beer, and assorted wines and cocktails.
Kixby is quite a find on a nondescript street in a nondescript part of town. There’s something for everyone and once you step outside, the rest of the city is at your fingertips.
As for me, I left Kixby plotting my return for another shake.
For more information, see kixby.com.
Shari Hartford is the former managing editor for Diversion magazine, where she wrote about travel in the northeast and cruising. She is currently a freelance writer and editor based in her hometown of New York City.