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Stay-cation in New York: My Favorite Manhattan GemsArticle by: Veronica Baesso

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There are times when the mind, body and soul need a bit of rest and reflection. In our hyper connected lives it is often difficult to take a break but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. I would argue it actually makes it more necessary. Weekends are nice but often too short. Extended holidays come too infrequently and with all the planning involved can often seem as much like work…as well…work. So in order to deal with the stress I have integrated the “stay-cation” into my wellness arsenal. My stay-cations are designed for me to enjoy my current city in a completely relaxed manner. I remove myself from my regular environment and do a deep dive into NYC to relax, reflect and recharge. If you can, I urge you to do the same from time to time. If you’re looking for tips check out my NYC stay-cation guide.

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This time is all about you and picking a new environment to decompress is essential. I opted for two hotels that were completely new to me and should immediately be on your radar. I spent time at both Hotel Giraffe and the Library Hotel. Each hotel was unique in its decor and ambiance but what they shared was a commitment to detail and service that were ideal for someone looking to be pampered without pretense.

Hotel Giraffe located on Park Avenue South encompasses the best examples of that busy strip combined with the charm and idyllic qualities of both nearby Gramercy and NoMad. The first thing you’ll experience upon entering the Giraffe is that you leave the noise of the city behind you in an instant. The lobby seemed to pick me up and cradle me in its arms as I checked in and headed to my room. The wine & cheese service in the lobby sets the mood and I am never one to turn down either.

Hotel Giraffe is designed to be an oasis. It has everything you need from scenic rooftops to five star dining. To put it shortly, if you don’t need to go out, you don’t have to. The rooms are intimate in the best sense of the word. I wanted to be pampered but I did not want to lose myself in a space that was too big. The artwork throughout the rooms and the hotel served as inspiration and I found I was able to tap into some creative juices and spend moments sitting and writing. Those moments of solitude are a luxury and the Hotel Giraffe put that in motion. If you want expansive spaces then their rooftop is the place to go and it is a treasure. It reminds you more of a garden than it does a traditional hotel rooftop. It’s an ideal place to be with your thoughts when you are enjoying the ever-present wine & cheese.

365 Park Ave South

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New Yorkers are always in a rush. And while we are rushing we often don’t have time to look around. If we do, our eyes are usually on tall skyscrapers, the rushing crowd around us, traffic or our ever present smartphones. However, amidst the hustle and bustle, take a moment to look down if you happen to be on 41st street between Madison and 5th, otherwise known as Library Way. Library Way was created in 1998 in a partnership between the New York Public Library and sculptor Gregg LeFevre. I have probably walked these blocks a million times and have never noticed them until very recently. Each sculpture celebrates a great literary piece with a quote and an individualized sculpture embedded into the sidewalk. It is truly an inspirational jewel in the city and leads you directly to The Library Hotel. I am so pleased to have stumbled across this great work. Whenever I need a creative pick me up I just let my feet do the walking and my mind wander carried by the words of so many great writers.

☞ East 41st Street

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The Library Walk is a literary Yellow Brick Road that leads you to the Library Hotel. Inspired by the marvellous New York City Public Library it is a homage to the literary tradition that is merely steps away. What ultimately makes the Library Hotel so perfect for a stay-cation is that you can actually stay inside your room and enjoy the experience of losing yourself in volumes of books. Each floor has a different theme and each room is an extension of that theme, outfitted with rare and eclectic book choices. My room was dedicated to Native Americans and their history and I was enthralled. Stories of proud traditions, history and the creativity of ancient people leapt off the pages. Of course, that’s not to say you have to stay indoors. Your need for refreshing sun and city vistas are more than satisfied by Library Hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge. But part of the motivation for my particular trip was to indulge in solitude. There are not many hotels in NYC that can afford you the experience to truly relax and find peace and quiet. Library Hotel accomplished this with ease, as richness of personal experience is baked into the DNA of everything that they do.

☞ 299 Madison Ave

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Once an overgrown empty lot, First Street Garden is now an open art space that hosts cultural activities and graffiti workshops that involve the local community, emerging artists and creatives. Currently the garden is home to The Global Freedom Exchange Mural an art project created by 24 women activists from all over the world. Led by artist and activist Panmela Castro, the purpose of the project is to shine a light on the issue of child trafficking. It is a dark topic indeed but the artwork provides a provocative backdrop to bring this to the forefront.

48 East 1st Street

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Whatever happened to cocktails that consisted of well mixed ingredients and some delicious liquor? Many cocktail bars have been bitten with the disease of extreme mixology. Thanks for taking twelve minutes to make my bacon infused organic gin-tini, but no thanks. Give me a great drink, great music and cool people and I am all set. That brings me to Back Room, in the LES. Back Room has been around for a while, but while it’s not the newest bar on the block it is one of the best. It isn’t easy to find (I am not describing how to get there, you have to do some of the work on your own!). But if you do manage to find it prepare yourself for an amazing experience. Back Room hearkens back to the days of Prohibition, when alcohol was illegal. Your drinks will be served in delicate tea cups and beers handed to you in paper bags, in short it’s all about being clandestine. Drinking in this spot feels like you are sharing a secret with a couple hundred of your closest friends and I love it. Find Back Room and get ready to have a great night out.

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I’ll hip you to Dorado Tacos but only if you promise not to go there. No seriously, please don’t go there. This simple taco spot located a stone’s throw away from Union Square Park is a gem. Well known to neighborhood regulars who flood the spot at lunch for Baja Fish, Chorizo and Steak tacos I have decided to reluctantly spread the gospel. In the true tradition of our Mexican cousins these tacos are simple but that doesn’t mean they don’t pack a wallop. They are perfectly sized and flavored and provide a delicious bite as you’re strolling from place to place. Make it a semi-regular spot but only tell your coolest friends….

☞ 28 E 12th St

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Staycations are not only about mani/pedi’s, spa treatments, and getting pampered. Sometimes you have to release your “inner geak” and let your nerd freak fly! Comic book stores aren’t just for the guys anymore. NYC flagship Forbidden Planet is now a safe haven for the ladies as well. On any given day you can peruse the aisles of Japanese manga, graphic novels, and collectables losing yourself in alternative realities. Despite ideas to the contrary, women are one of the fastest growing readers of comics. Forbidden Planet is one of the singular spots that allows you to indulge your fantasies and check out some of the dopest comic titles on the streets. If you want a hint on what to check out see our recent article here!

☞ 832 Broadway

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The East Village is designed to wander and while there I came upon a tiny cute shop that I might have missed entirely had the décor not leaped out at me. My attention was immediately captured by pineapple wallpaper, rustic boho accents and faux animal mounts. All of which doesn’t sound like it should have blend together, but yet it did. The shop is Cloak and Dagger, an inspired 60s boutique founded by designer Brookelynn Starnes. Cloak and dagger offers high-end creations primarily from French and American brands that have a playful and badass flair. Secretary style dresses; suspender skirts, silky blouses and more will bring out your inner Brigitte Bardot.

☞ 334 E 9th St

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