I am back from my annual weekend trip to NYC with some of my best girlfriends, and I feel so happy and invigorated. I am convienced that nothing recharges the soul quite like getting together with old friends.
The tradition – which started back in Chicago when we all called the Windy City our home – has sustained a lot of changes in each of our lives, including the fact that now all 5 of us live in 5 different cities (including Amsterdam, Netherlands).
But that’s where a destination like New York City comes in handy. It is easy to get to from anywhere in the world. And one with endless options of things to do no matter how many times we return. In fact, I am convinced that even if we did nothing more than walk around eating pizza, it would still be a thrilling experience.
Last year, when I wrote about our 2018 trip (read it here), I shared a formula that seems to repeat each year as we plan this trip. It goes something like this:
Fancy Hotel + A Show + Afternoon Tea + Museum + One Fancy dinner = Perfect Girl’s weekend
For a trip that lasts from Saturday to Monday, I have learned that having this basic formula really makes for efficient planning without the stress. This year, we more or less stuck with it, with some minor changes.
Some other useful tips for making a girl’s weekend-trip a tradition:
- Stick with the same time-frame each year: We learned that early fall (October) is an easy time for us to fit in our schedule. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel with what’s going on in the city for that time. We know more or less what the weather will be like and what to pack. Our families and jobs too seem to appreciate the fact that this trip happens at the same time each year.
- Create a What’s App group to discuss plans and share ideas: We use What’s App because it’s free and we have a friend who lives abroad. We created the 2019 New York Trip group well in advance. It was easy to share links for hotels, events, restaurants, in the planning stage, compared to using email. And it was a fun way to collect pictures from everyone during the trip.
- Plan the aspect that interests you most: I consider myself the least informed out of our bunch in terms of what’s going on in NYC during our visit. But I do love the hunt of a good hotel, so I try to make my contribution in doing that research. After that, I try not to get in the way of planning if I don’t have the time to research and make contributions to our list of things to do. Trying to control every single aspect together can be time-consuming, so divide and conquer.
- Don’t plan activities before 10:00am: It can be easy to overbook the weekend since NYC always has so many cool things to do. But do yourselves a favor and sleep in a little! Once, we thought that an 8:00am yoga class was a good idea (we never made it). Another time, we thought we’d go for an early morning run (didn’t happen). We have realized by now that staying up as late as possible, talking, laughing, and catching up, is way more fun when everyone gets to sleep in.
And now, for a recap of our 2019 Girls Weekend in NYC
Located in the financial district of Manhattan, WeLive might not qualify as fancy in the traditional sense, but man was it nice! We had a triple-bed suite with two big bathrooms, a living room (with a 4th bed), and a kitchen/dinning area. We loved the comfy beds, the extra space to spread out, and our view from the 23rd floor.
We couldn’t get over the smart space-planning and unbelievable number of closets that made us squeal it’s another closet more so in disbelief than need. I found the decor to be really cool (Hello synchronized swimmers wallpaper!). Check-in and check-out were effortless and the front desk was 24-hours. The 9th floor lounge with communal tables, free coffee, and breakfast was great!
It had all the perks of a hotel that I love, with the space of an Airbnb. The one drawback, if you can call it that is that it’s kinda far from the action. But that’s what subway, taxis, and Uber rides are for in NYC. The location didn’t matter to us very much because we only came home to sleep. I also think it was so nice to have a communal space to linger and two bathrooms to get ready in the morning.
Upright Citizens Brigade 555 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
Studio 54 254 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019
My friend Sara found an improv show at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in Hell’s Kitchen with tickets that were only $15 each for Saturday night. At that price we didn’t have very high expectations, but I am so glad to report that we had a great time. I would highly recommend it.
On Sunday afternoon we had tickets for The Sound Inside at Studio 54. Mary-Louise Parker was great. I usually prefer Broadway shows that are sensory overload (ha!), but even with just two actors and minimal set changes, the show delivered. It gave us A LOT to talk about after the fact. Also, it was so much fun being in such an iconic theater.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Afternoon Tea @ Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant
Brunch @ Sarabeth’s
Dinner @ Mari Vanna
So, may be now is a good time to admit that when coming into the city from LGA I got lost (badly) in the labryinth that is the NYC subway system. I literally ran down 5th Avenue trying to catch the tail end of our afternoon tea at the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant. I made it, but only after getting drenched in sweat and feeling like I was in a Seinfeld episode (including the absurdness of being stopped by a tourist while I was running to take her picture in front of the Trump Tower).
BG restaurant has been part of our weekend trip since the beginning. Everything about it is charming and beautiful (including the view which I realized has been my cover photo for the posts every time I wrote about this annual girls’ trip). Unfortunately, I was too breathless and hungry this time and didn’t take any good pictures of the experience, but take my word for it, it’s exciting and fun!
For brunch on Sunday, my friend Maria, who lives in New York now (and is the founder of Po Campo bags) booked us a table at Sarabeth’s in the Upper West Side. It was delicious, unfussy, and ideal for a Sunday hangout. Afterwards, we walked around the corner to the Grand Bazaar which is an outdoor flea/vintage market. I almost fell for so many vintage dresses with crazy prints, but alas settled for a more space saving silk scarf which helps up my current scarf game just a little bit more.
Usually we try to book a nice dinner beforehand but this time we all got busy to look up restaurants. We figured it’s New York after all and it shouldn’t be that hard to find a nice dinner spot at the last minute. Luckily Dottie and Janet spotted a charming Russian restaurant called Mari Vanna in Hell’s Kitchen. Dottie studied abroad in Russia once upon a time, and had no problem reconnecting with her love for flavored vodkas of which there were so many here ( some more tasty than others). The food was really good as well!
After dinner we crossed the street and had a libation at the beautiful Gramercy Tavern. It’s the kind of place where one might go to celebrate a special occasion. For us, being together was reason enough. Curiously, this is also the only restaurant I have come across in New York that is inclusive of gratuities. My Old Fashioned was spot on and I didn’t have to test my math skills for a tip later.
We also had pre dinner cocktails in Bryant Park on Sunday at the Fever Tree Porch. The beverages we’re good, but it’s more enjoyable because of the excellent outdoor location.
Now for one of the best coincidences I have experienced in a long time … My friend and neighbor Jedd was also going to be in New York for work at the same time as me. I knew though that getting together might be hard. BUT, the universe had other plans. While walking in Time Square after our Broadway show, I spotted Jedd in an ocean of thousands of people. I mean, come on!! Right!!!?? Jedd being Jedd, he had something cool to share with us and we loved his brief but much appreciated talk about the “Rumors of War” sculpture in Time Square (pictured earlier in the post). We would have totally missed its significance of it wasn’t for our surprising encounter.
Some of my favorite memories and conversations from this trip included Janet telling us about transcendental meditation, Maria sharing that her 40th birthday resolution was to break more rules (I love, love this!!), Dottie, Sara, and Janet filling me in on all the music I missed out on while growing up in India.
I love you Dottie, Sara, Janet, and Maria. The only thing that makes the end of the trip better is knowing that we get to do it again next year.