I visited New York last week and had the best time. A big piece of it was taking a pause from everything — writing, the rhythms of our daily life, parenting, the strange lazy-but-chaotic feel of summer, the familiarity of our home. It felt bracingly good to step outside of everything and feel unencumbered for a few days. I write that carefully, because I am blessed with an embarrassment of riches, and my days are happy and full at home. But still it was restorative to absent myself and remember what it feels like to walk around a city, beholden only to myself. Mr. Magpie had been in New York for business since Monday, so when I arrived around midday on Wednesday, I found myself presented with an ultra-rare afternoon of doing whatever I wanted, without telling anyone where I was going, why, or when I would be back. No arrangements: just me. Is it strange to say I found it exhilarating, like taking a dip in icy water, or screaming at the top of my lungs into a canyon? We were staying at Made Hotel in NoMad. I don’t love that area (it’s really more “midtown” than anything else — a lot of foot traffic, fairly dirty, lacking charm), but I’d give the hotel really high marks for work trip accommodations. Mr. Magpie had selected it because it was walkable from his office and the train station (pro tip: enter/exit Amtrak from the new Moynihan Train Hall, which is an extension of Penn Station and bright and clean compared to the seventh layer of hell that is Penn Station). It was also ultra-accessible to everything via subway (and we went all over the place – Brooklyn, SoHo, UWS, LES) and had fantastic reviews. The rooms were thoughtfully designed and stylish (albeit small), and the staff was exceptional. They have a great lobby area from which I worked comfortably for several afternoons, and they offer free drip coffee throughout the day from their well-regarded in-house coffee shop (and free wine at happy hour!). I made a quick pit stop at Eataly for a prosciutto crudo and stracciatella foccacia and pressed juice (Eataly is a six minute walk from the hotel and one of our favorite old haunts, as my daughter attended school in Flatiron — where Eataly is) and then stopped into Todd Snyder, which is right on Madison Square Park and my favorite destination for men’s shopping. I picked Mr. Magpie this linen button-down in navy (he’s not usually an SSBD — short-sleeve-button-down guy, but I’d seen it styled on Brad Pitt with white jeans and had to recreate the look) and these white jeans. Then I made my way down to SoHo (in my opinion, the best shopping in NYC) and took in the best street style on the planet. All the cool girls were wearing sneakers — mainly Golden Goose “mids,” Onitsuka Tigers, and New Balance (though I did see some of those classic Reeboks I mentioned were back in a few weeks ago, too) — and I even stopped into the Golden Goose shop to contemplate a pair for myself. I saw a gal wearing these with straight leg dark wash jeans, a crisp, logo-less white button-down, and a fresh blowout who looked like a million bucks.
The real delight was stopping into the Byredo in SoHo and exploring their scents. I was out of perfume and wanted to try something new. The saleswoman talked me through a range of different options and I ended up with Mojave Ghost, which I am sitting here obsessing over as I write this. The site describes it as “a woody composition inspired by the soulful beauty of the Mojave Desert. In this xeric wilderness, rare are the plants that dare to blossom. With a light and graceful character top notes of musky Ambrette combine with fresh Jamaican Nesberry. Powdery Violet then unfurls to reveal Sandalwood. Finally warm Chantilly Musk rounds out a base of crisp Amber and Cedar wood, leaving the raw spirit of Mojave Ghost to linger on the skin.” The way I’d describe it is feminine but complex — the kind of perfume a strong, sophisticated, well-groomed woman wears with her eclectic mix of delicate gold layered jewelry. I am in love. I left with smaller sizes of a few other scents I was deciding between, too — I was really into Blanche (more of a clean, laundry-like scent) and La Tulipe (self-explanatory). You can try a set of three different perfumes in small sizes here in case you want to test a bunch (including my top three picks) or do their discovery set for ultra small sample sizes of their top-sellers. Anyhow, the stop at Byredo felt delightfully self-indulgent — doing something just for myself, by myself.
After, I meandered down to TriBeCa to enjoy a cocktail at Weather Up with chic creative Stephanie Covington of A Life Well Saved. We have become “Internet friends” over the past year and I loved meeting her in person and talking fashion, travel, and business. I then headed back uptown to change into a Pink City Prints dress and Christian Louboutin espadrilles (mine are several seasons old, but these are strikingly similar and only $130 — go with everything) prior to a seven-course prix fixe dinner with Mr. Magpie, my sister, brother-in-law, best friend, and her husband at celebrated Korean restaurant Atoboy. I didn’t love the interior (very bright, almost industrial lighting and a cafeteria-like vibe?) but we had a festive and delicious dinner together (if you go, be sure to order the fluke crudo and fried chicken add-on — my favorite dishes!) with a lot of laughter.
The next morning, I grabbed coffee with one of my dear friends, Alison Kenworthy, whom I have known and adored since high school. A former Emmy-winning producer at GMA, she now produces video tours of fabulous homes — you can see them here. She has almost 100,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel! Alison is one of the most elegant people I know. She was wearing this $15 pair of sunglasses and I ordered them on the spot. She’d paired them with this hot pink caftan dress and kilim loafers. We met on the Upper West Side at a cute plant store / coffee shop called Flowers on the Park — right around the corner from my old apartment as well as the building in which “Only Murders in the Building” is set, seen above. (We used to see them filming when we lived there! Another fun coincidence: I could see Alison’s apartment building from the window beneath which I wrote while living in Manhattan.) We had the loveliest time catching up and comparing notes on balancing motherhood with creative pursuits. I then headed out to Brooklyn via the Subway to visit my sister and her baby at the apartment they recently purchased and grab lunch at Agi’s Counter, which was delicious. We had one of those long, leisurely conversations of sisterhood, ping-ponging from the serious to the frivolous without batting an eye. Food for the soul. With all of the Subway treks, I managed to read about half of my book, Emily Giffin’s frothy “Meant to Be,” which is a loose fictionalization of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. I packed the worst shoes for navigating NYC (Vibi Venezias). They are comfortable and go with everything (I really like them paired with sundresses — this Maxwell and Geraldine is still my favorite for travel days; I wore it on my way up to NYC) but they have a very thin, almost fabric-like sole, and you really want a bit more separation between your foot and the streets of NYC. They also show dirt easily. I ended up switching into my platform fisherman sandals, which were also not the greatest pick because they are heavy. I know better than this but prioritized my fashion preferences over practicality, and regretted it. Don’t be like me! Supergas would have been a better bet — similar-ish in style to Vibis but much more appropriate to the task at hand — or Onitsukas! I wore this adorable Cesta Collective bag most of the trip — I feel like it did a good job of bridging “day to night,” as it could be worn with cocktail dresses or sundresses. When I needed a bit more “cargo space,” I wore this FRP, which I’ve raved about countless times recently, but I love that it can fit my Kindle, phone, card case, keys, hand sanitizer, and sunglasses and it’s still got a tiny footprint. The mint color introduces a fun contrast to most of my outfits, too. I always get compliments on it!
On our last night in the city, Mr. Magpie and I went down to Dhamaka, a critically-acclaimed Indian restaurant. It was fabulous and highly spicy (do not go if you can’t handle heat!). It was loud — good for a celebratory mood or group, but be warned if you’re looking for intimate conversation. They are best known for goat and lamb — their goat neck byirani was the star of the show! I wore this saucy Reformation dress with some of Nicholas Kirkwood’s casati pearl sandals (similar to but not exactly like these).
On our final morning, we stopped at one of Mr. Magpie’s favorite coffee shops, Devocion in Flatiron. Delicious and the perfect send-off before boarding the train home to see our babies. After our two recent trips with the children (to the beach and then the lake — both magic and mayhem; we left more exhausted than we came), my three days in New York felt like a true vacation. I’m heading into this new week a new woman, ready to get into back-to-school mode! Onward!
P.S. A bunch of my favorite NYC restaurants are at the bottom of this post.
P.P.S. Essentials for living in Manhattan.