By Justin Ocean
Patrick Sewell, Guest Relations Manager at Jumeirah Essex House, handles the most exacting guests and VIP requests with calm aplomb at this storied Manhattan hotel on Central Park. With a charming Caribbean lilt, Jamaica-born Sewell shared some of his favorite NYC recommendations:
1. Gastronomic Adventure -- Of course, I love South Gate right here in the hotel, with its floor-to-ceiling views of the park, but one of my favorite new spots is Kin Shop (469 Sixth Ave., 212-675-4295) in the West Village. Top Chef fans know chef/owner Harold Dieterle was one of the best contestants ever, but you don't have to know the show to enjoy the inventive but unassuming, modestly-priced Thai cuisine. In the Flatiron District, Mario Batali's new food emporium, Eataly (200 Fifth Ave., 646-398-5100), is a temple to all things deliciously Italian. Make a picnic out of imported treats or dine in one of the market-themed restaurants.
2. Bend Your Plastic -- In nicer weather, the newly renovated Ralph Lauren (867 Madison Ave., 212-434-8000) flagship on the Upper East Side makes a lovely short stroll across Central Park. It's worth the visit just to see the magnificent renovation of the Polo mansion housing the men's collections. Women's wear is now located across the street.
3. Culture Beat -- We are blessed to have New York's major Broadway theaters a short walk south of the hotel. Some of our guests planned visits around the opening of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert last month. Two other must-sees are Billy Elliot and the new revival of Angels in America; see Broadway.com for info/tickets.
4. A Mad Mad World -- Our (almost) next-door neighbor, the Museum of Art and Design (2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7777) is a gorgeously executed redesign of a former hulking eyesore overlooking Columbus Circle. Inventive exhibitions cover everything from textiles to industrial design and the museum shop is stocked with to-do-for presents.
5. Drink up -- There are a huge number of gay and gay-popular bars, lounges, and nightspots near the hotel, mostly in Hell's Kitchen, but for the more adventurous, Apothéke (9 Doyers St., 212-406-0400) serves up a lilbrary of inventive drinks. Located deep in Chinatown in a former apothecary, it has a speakeasy feel and serves up a thrilling dollop of old New York for visitors and locals alike. It can be challenging to find, even for Manhattanites, making it feel all the more exclusive.
Check in: The Jumeirah Essex House, recently renovated to the tune of $90 million, marries the best of golden-era Deco architecture and style with modern comfort and technology, accented by high standards of service. With Central Park across the street from the hotel, you can enjoy the constantly changing scenery of the park from the comfort of your room or head out into "New York's lungs" for all sorts of activities. Rooms from $349. 160 Central Park So., 212-247-0300, Jumeirah.com
For more Gotham hotspots, check out our Out City Guide: New York City.