While this is not the only Kiehl’s store in Manhattan, it is certainly the one with the most character. This store offers all of the quality products we expected, but with such a fun atmosphere, it was hard to believe we were in a high-end skincare boutique. The store is beautifully decorated with fun art, an eye-catching painted skeleton statue and a large antique motorcycle. One corner of the room is plastered in photo booth pictures taken by visitors right there in the store. Yes, a free photo booth in a skincare store - no purchase necessary. The friendly staff has no problem with visitors wandering in and spending as much time as they would like inside the photo booth, printing page after page of fun, nostalgic photos. As one of the staff members said, “It’s for you to enjoy.” Perhaps the only thing more exciting than free photos is free products, and Kiehl’s offers that as well. Next to the photo booth they have set up a recycling center where customers who bring back their old Kiehl’s bottles receive points, which they can then use to get brand new products. Never before have we found so many perks while browsing for lip balm.
Beneath the Spanish Benevolent Society lies La Nacional, one of Manhattan’s most authentic Spanish restaurants and the most easily accessible part of the society. Just by walking down the steps into the dimly lit basement lounge, we felt the bustle of 14th street quickly recede and we were transported across the ocean. La Nacional has the same relaxed, no frills atmosphere as most tapas bars in Spain. We gazed at the old photographs from the society’s earlier years on the walls and then had the option of sipping a drink at the bar, sampling some classic simple Spanish tapas such as tortilla de patatas, croquetas or chorizo, or dining on a full meal of paella. Perhaps the most authentic option, though, was to simply have a seat by the television to watch the fútbol game - it is always on. For visitors from Spain who want a taste of home, those of us pining for the Spanish travels of our past, or New Yorkers simply curious about a new culture, La Nacional is the place to go.