Musings + Essays

Three Days in NYC.

By: Jen Shoop

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.

P.P.P.S. New York ephemera and an ode to the Upper West Side.

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18 thoughts on “Three Days in NYC.

  1. I adored this post β€” I really love good, meaty travel recaps and this one is especially relevant to me as I am currently seven days in to a nine-day NYC trip! We actually tried to eat at Dhamaka last week, but couldn’t get in β€” admittedly, I was not especially on top of making reservations, though πŸ™‚ I’m happy it has your stamp of approval β€” we love Indian (and spice) so I will be making an early res next time! I’ve had Atoboy on my list for ages, too!

    Contributing to the discourse on NYC hotels β€” I lived in New York until 2014 and since then have been coming to the city at least 3-4x per year, mainly for work obligations. I always stay downtown β€” Maritime if it’s more advantageous to be on the west side, and Nolitan if it’s better to be on the east side. The Maritime is an old sentimental favorite and tbh I’m not sure if it has the “freshest” vibe these days, but it does the trick, especially if you upgrade to the penthouse, which is luxuriously spacious & fun (AND has an outdoor shower!) The Nolitan is small but quite comfortable, with the friendliest/most helpful staff, bikes that you can borrow, and balconies with epic views facing uptown. I’ve also stayed a bunch at the PUBLIC (it’s slightly too sceney, imo) and I loved Sister City when it was open (it was under the Ace Hotel umbrella, but COVID closed it and I have no idea if it’ll open again!) All of these hotels have tended to hover in the $300-400/night range, in my experience, in case that’s helpful. I do really recommend being strategic with where you’re staying, as it makes a huge difference to be able to have walking be your primary mode of transportation instead of taking the subway/Uber (that’s my personal preference, of course!)

    P.S. So grateful to have intel on the Ludlow β€” it’s been on my list (twice a year I need to be in/near the LES) and I may try it out next winter!


    1. Thanks for weighing in on the hotel options! This is so helpful. Going to revisit these comments next time we’re selecting a hotel. Hope you make it to Dhamaka — it was delicious!


  2. This was such a fun read! It reminds me of a trip my husband and I took just before I got pregnant with my first. I was at a Herman Melville conference at NYU but we extended the trip to spend a full week staying in Soho, and it was just so… cool. People watching, window shopping, near-daily cocktails at Dante — we were very aware of the indulgence and embraced it as our “last chance” for at least several years, and I’m so glad we did! There’s nothing quite like it πŸ™‚

    1. I love this for you! I have a lot of memories in NYC like this — days when we were just having THE BEST time, the two of us. Even after we had kids — they’d be tucked away at home with the nanny and we’d be out feeling like the world was our oyster.


  3. Ahh this made me so excited for a trip I have planned this fall. I haven’t been in Manhattan since pre-covid times and I miss the excitement of the city. What hotel(s) do you love in the city? I have reservations already but I’m tempted to try something different, but because it’s been a couple years, I’m nervous to do so without a recommendation.

    1. Yay! You will enjoy. NYC is TOTALLY “back.” Although I would argue it never totally left? I still found it magical, even during the strain of the pandemic.

      My knowledge of NYC hotels is limited since I mainly stayed with my sister and best friend when visiting in my 20s and early 30s and then we lived there, but I’ve stayed a few places, and my parents have stayed all over the place and I can share what they liked. Personally, I love the Carlyle on the UES. I’d stay there if I had my druthers and did not need to be in a particular vicinity / walking distance from anywhere in particular. Timeless, classic, iconic – it doesn’t get better. Drinks at Bemelman’s?! The best! I also found the rooms lovely and they have great sheets and towels — ha! The Mark is also supposed to be incredible — also UES. I feel like a lot of my best-traveled friends stay there when visiting the city — chic chic. My parents usually stayed at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle and though they loved the accommodations, the last few times they stayed there, they felt that there were better “values” elsewhere (e.g., just as nice accommodations, better service, and a little less expensive) and started staying at The Pierre (UES) and The Ritz (on Central Park South). They preferred that area because it was close to us on the UWS and Central Park (my dad is an avid runner and has a longstanding love affair with running the CP — as he puts it, “I have to pay my respects to Jackie O.”). I will say the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle is sort of out of the fracas of the park foot traffic, which is nice. The view from their restaurant is insane! Dreamy.

      Mr. Magpie and I semi-recently stayed at The Standard down in Meatpacking. I really love being downtown — I don’t know why. I guess because I lived uptown, downtown just feels energetic, adult, different from my everyday life there? Ha! Meatpacking feels clean and modern to me. The Standard was OK in terms of accommodations – it felt like it had seen better days and the lobby is way too small. I like a big lobby!

      I have not stayed here, but I would strongly encourage you looking at the Whitby, the Crosby, and the Ludlow. I’ve heard good things about all three, and have had several festive teas at the Whitby Hotel. It’s only a few blocks south of CP so I feel like it’s a good way to get access to that part of town in a great hotel but without paying as much as The Ritz (or Plaza – but I feel like the Plaza rooms might not be as nice as they used to be?)


    2. Chiming in – I stayed at the Ludlow this past spring with girlfriends for a weekend trip. We loved it!! We were able to walk to a ton of our destinations + grab the subway or an uber/taxi easily as well.

    3. Also chiming in with a few downtown recs β€” I alternate between The Beekman and Sixty Thompson for my monthly/bimonthly work trips, and would recommend both, for different reasons. The Beekman has, for my money, the most beautiful atrium in the city (looking down at the bar from any of the hallways is full on Art Deco kaleidoscope in the best, dizzying way); the bar itself is clubby + jewel-toned + very fun. Drawback is the fidi location β€” fine during the workweek (+ eataly downtown is blocks away), but desolate at weekends. The Sixty is on the western fringe of soho; the people-watching is, of course, excellent, the out front restaurant good, buzzy little rooftop bar, and you’re just really in the thick of it (but the interior has nothing, architecturally, on the beekman). Both are reasonable-ish, if booked early!

      1. Thank you so much for sharing these! Helpful for us, too, as we will have additional trips to the city soon!


  4. Love an NYC travelogue! Flatiron has been my work neighborhood for the last 11 years, and I also adore Weather Up. They also have a great location in Prospect Heights that is very speakeasy-esque. Also, I was down in Soho earlier this summer and could tell the international tourists were back just by the sheer volume of people standing in the bike lanes and tiredly snapping at each other. Hah.

    1. Flatiron was our second home since my daughter went to school there – we were there daily during the school year! Love that area. Yes to all the tourists being back!!


  5. I loved this post! It was everything I wished “travel recap posts” were on the regular. I loved envisioning each outfit, and hearing all the day’s activities, thank you for the escapism!

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