citizenM is not very concerned with tradition. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With one-minute self-service check-in on a touch-screen computer, no bellboys and a sleek interior that resembles MoMa more than the Waldorf, this hotel is the millennial generation incarnate. Its concept is simple: a modern hotel for the modern traveler. Affordable rooms that are all priced the same with the exact interior layout. This international concept began in Amsterdam in 2008 and was brought to New York in 2014.
Designed by the Dutch firm Concrete, citizenM (standing for Mobile Citizen of the World) is also an aesthetic feat. White walls, minimalist furniture and bright paintings and murals - including a specially commissioned Julian Opie piece entitled "Walking in Times Square" - make the lobby feel more like a living, breathing piece of art. Also featured on the main floor is a Dutch book shop and the twenty-four hour canteenM area that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a grab-and-go style.
Like the lobby, the hotel's rooms are simplistically chic, featuring a wall-to-wall window, a king-sized bed, free movies, Wi-Fi and a tablet from which guests can control anything from the temperature to the color of the lights in the shower. Although the room is tiny - 170 square feet to be exact - its convenience and comfort certainly override its size. citizenM has an eye for detail, with carpet in the hallways that are maps of the area and a stunning rooftop bar created solely for hotel guests. Without a doubt, this is a unique enterprise that has plans to continue expanding, including the Bowery in 2017.
Once the late night spot where, according to a 1953 issue of The New York Visitor, the "glitterati [would] spin in their best evening gowns to [a] live orchestra, " the Hotel Edison has had its fair share of celebrity. Built in 1931, it had modern amenities for the period – air-conditioned dining rooms, radios, and private baths – and an accompanying ballroom fit for any New Yorker spending a night on the town. Currently, the hotel has done its best to preserve the Old New York charm with murals in the lobby, and wine tastings twice a week that welcome their guests to New York. With a location near Times Square, its popularity has endured and, unlike most other hotels built around the same time, its history has survived.
This three-tiered observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center offers an unobstructed 360-degree panoramic view of New York and beyond. Its view is somewhat different from that of the Empire State Building as one is at eye-level with surrounding skyscrapers, rather than gazing down upon them. Opened in 1933, it was designed to resemble the upper decks of a 1930s ocean liner. When Top of the Rock reopened in 2005 – after having been closed since 1986 – my family was one of the first to ascend to the 70th floor, as it held special memories for my parents when they were dating back in the 1940s. It has since become a favorite tourist stop for me when out-of-town guests are visiting. With its mezzanine photo exhibit and other items of interest on the way to the top, what a phenomenal place to wow people of any age and to begin their journey through the side streets of Manhattan.
Toloache, a bustling Mexican bistro on 50th street, shares its name with the legendary Toloache flower. According to a myth in Mexican culture, the flower can be brewed into a love potion - if someone tastes the drink once, he or she will always return for another sip. The restaurant’s food and drinks have the same effect: Many people who eat there once return time and time again. General Manager Jorge shared a story about his friend from Japan who visited Toloache on the first night of a weeklong vacation in Manhattan. He ended up returning every day that week and then again every year during his annual visit to the city. Toloache on 50th is the first of many restaurants opened in New York by chef-owner Julian Medina. Chef Julian grew up in Mexico City, where he was inspired by the home cooking of his father and grandfather. He was originally brought to New York by Chef Richard Sandoval, who appointed him as Chef de Cuisine at Sandoval’s Maya. He went on to gain experience at distinguished restaurants and graduated from the French Culinary Institute with recognition. Today, Chef Julian owns seven of his own restaurants in the city and has been featured in several publications, including Men’s Journal, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He has appeared on shows such as "Iron Chef" and "Beat Bobby Flay. " His impressive background is reflected in the success and distinctive menu of his “first child, ” Toloache. Julian designed Toloache’s extraordinary menu to have something for everyone – the wide range of dishes include both vegetarian and gluten free options. He prides himself on using only the freshest of ingredients, whether it is white truffles or chapulines (dried grasshoppers imported from Oaxaca). These crunchy critters have gained quite a bit of media attention, including a feature on "The Today Show. " The kitchen brought out the Tacos Chapulines for the Manhattan Sideways team to photograph, and we had to admit that the insects were made to look very appetizing. We were also presented with the diverse Trio de Guacamoles, which allowed us to sample three varieties of the dip: the familiar traditional guacamole; the Frutas Guacamole, which incorporates fruit instead of typical ingredients (pomegranate, mango, and apple instead of tomato and Thai Basil instead of cilantro); and the Rojo guacamole, made with chipotle. Several of us went on to sample the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche y Trufas (made with fresh truffles), The Baja Tilapia Pescado, and the braised short rib, served with quinoa and carrots. Each dish exemplified Chef Julian’s inventiveness and ability to put small, flavor-enhancing twists on typical Mexican cuisine. The drinks were equally impressive, including Julian’s favorite “Chef’s Selection Margarita, ” made with his hand-picked bottle of Herradura Tequila. The bartender mixed a few cocktails for us to photograph and taste, including the refreshing “De la Calle, ” made with cucumber and jalapeno; the spicy “Mezcalita de Pina”; and the signature “Toloache, ” made with hibiscus and blueberries. The food is amazing and the drinks are fantastic, but what really keeps so many guests coming back is Toloache’s dedication to quality service. As Jorge informed us, “Our goal is to make every guest feel at home. They are our friends. ” Each of the servers have their own style, creating unique, yet equally enjoyable dining experiences. Guests are able to experience Toloache in a completely new light from one day to the next just by sitting at a different server’s table. It was event manager Temple who summed the restaurant up perfectly: "Toloache feels like a family – like you’re walking into Little Mexico. ”