Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend in New York City - Day One

The Setai Hotel – (managed by the Capella Group)
Great hotel!  I highly recommend the Setai even though the location is a bit of a good news/bad news story.  The good news:  the location is in the heart of mid-town and within walking distance on the south side to what some say is the the new center of gravity for the city - Union Square, Madison Square, the Meatpacking District, Soho, Greenwich village, and the West Village - and on the north side within walking distance to the Fifth Avenue shopping district and the theatre district.  The bad news is that the hotel is located a block away from the Empire State building and all the buses and tourists and hawkers that are of course in abundance at this famous site.  But it is a holiday weekend…

The rooms are furnished in shades of wood, white and grey.  I am not sure why it all fits together as it seems effortless.  But suffice it to say that our room is very soothing – I feel so comfortable and comforted staying here.   We have a junior king suite which is one large room with a sitting area with very large and lovely bathroom and closets.   Our view is not ideal by any means but we do have a very appealing “4th night free” rate so I can’t complain.

Service is impeccable.  And the doormen will be happy to radio the driver of the Maserati to take you anywhere in the city.  Yes, this is quite a marketing technique.  The hotel owns a Maserati (comes with a driver) that can be used by any guest  (first come first served, free of charge). We were able to use it twice.  To be honest this perk is a bit lost on me – the car seems like a normal small sedan.  But for people who know their cars at all this would be a nice perk for staying here.

The Morgan
Our first morning we walk just around the corner to the Morgan Library and Museum.  I have never developed a great appreciation for museums; however, I do enjoy art collections located in former mansions or homes.

J. P. Morgan, a leading banker in the 1800’s, was also a serious collector of books and art.  He wanted to rival the holdings of renowned European libraries.  Over the last century, the Morgan has expanded to incorporate three historical buildings with three new modern glass pavilions to house the growing collection.  A highlight is J. P. Morgan’s original library that he had designed to house his collection of rare books and manuscripts.  

The Museum of the City of New York
I think we’ll get our museum activity out of the way today so we can move on tomorrow to more exciting things… So after a lovely lunch with friends on the Upper East Side we walk from there to a museum I actually really want to check out.  The Museum of the City of New York at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue has an exhibit entitled: “The Greatest Grid:  The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011”.   I love looking at the history of a city through pictures and maps.  However, I am a bit disappointed in this exhibit -  I was hoping it would have more in the way of photography or pictures showing the different time periods of the city.  I enjoyed much more another exhibit we happened onto: “Cecil Beaton: The New York Years”.  Amazing photographs by this British photographer and socialite of celebrities in the early 1920’s – check some out here.

This evening we traverse New York again and meet up with good friends for dinner in their neighborhood on the Upper West Side.  Spiga is a charming, intimate, warm,  neighborhood gem which makes it also perfect as a destination restaurant.   The warm artichoke and pistachio salad is a must have.  My homemade pasta with sausage and an artichoke pesto sauce is excellent.  This is a small restaurant so reservations are essential.

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