BY: MAGGIE PARKER
When you live in or around New York City, Times Square isn’t exactly top of mind when someone suggests a staycation. The name alone conjures images of confused tourists, aggressive life-sized Elmos, and (most recently) a 30-minute line to get inside the new Sephora. But the neighborhood is changing; boutique hotels with enough charm to warrant more time inside and cozy cafes are popping up constantly. Plus, there are a few hidden gems that have been there all along that will make you feel right at home. So if you’re not flitting off for a summer vacation, Broadway Spin presents your go-to guide for the ultimate Times Square staycation.
WHERE TO PARK:
If you’re driving in, leave your car with Edison ParkFast. We love that they allow you to book parking in advance for a guaranteed spot at one of their Theater District locations. Or, if you are coming from New Jersey and are looking to avoid tunnel traffic, you can reserve parking in Newark or Secaucus and simply go one stop into NYC on New Jersey Transit. During peak travel times, this can be especially helpful in cutting down on travel time and stress — and any staycation should be stress-free.
WHERE TO STAY:
If you turn east on 44th street off Times Square, and push past the darkened pubs and bustling delis, you’ll be rewarded with a trip to old New York. Don’t let its small size fool you; the historic Chatwal has a lot going on. Between the restaurant boasting a massive fireplace, the lounge that hosts live jazz musicians, and so much history it’s almost hard to follow, there’s plenty to explore within these storied walls. Rooms feature suede walls, sweeping windows, and elegant bathrooms, providing a welcome respite from the streets outside.
AKA Times Square
If you actually do want to feel at home in Times Square, opt for an extended-stay hotel like the AKA Times Square. Here, the hotel rooms are more like those chic NYC apartments you’ve always dreamt of living in. And they are all just steps from iconic New York attractions like all the Broadway theaters, Restaurant Row, Hudson Yards, Bryant Park, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Center. The hotel is made up of of a combination modern studios, one- and two-bedroom suites, and penthouse suites, many of which have full kitchens. After a long day exploring the city, you’ll be able to kick back, relax and enjoy a home-cooked (or delivered) pre-show meal and leisurely stroll to the theater.
WHERE TO EAT:
Trying to stay local but craving a taste of Brooklyn? Head over to Café Grumpy, which originated in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but has found a home on west 39th street. The coffee beans are still roasted in Brooklyn and the industrial-artsy décor will transport you there.
A new addition to the neighborhood is The Ribbon, which also has an outpost in the residential Upper West Side. A something-for-everyone menu featuring dishes ranging from a quinoa bowl to fried chicken to a full raw bar and a stylish, spacious interior make it a rare gem in this part of town. And if you’re looking for a late-night scene, head to Blue, the nightclub directly below that hosts special performers — currently magician Alex Vos.
Whether for a drink or dinner, we highly recommend escaping Times Square and hightailing it to the Renaissance Hotel’s R Lounge. But you won’t really be escaping Times Square, as this bar and restaurant offers one of the most unique views of the area, right across from the pedestrian island in the center of it all. Taking in the view from these massive third floor windows allows you to do so in peace and quiet, while giving you a unique bird’s eye view of the (unofficial) melting pot of the universe.
WHAT TO DO:
Red Door Spa
A staycation isn’t complete without some proper pampering, and The Red Door Spa is one of the best in the city. Lucky for you, they have a location on 44th street inside The Chatwal—which means, if you stay there, you can go from hotel room to treatment room without changing out of your robe and slippers. It doesn’t get more staycation than that. Not only does the spa offer massages, facials, and mani-pedis galore, it also has a saltwater lap pool and a Jacuzzi plunge pool, two things that are hard to come by in NYC.
A Broadway show
Any staycation requires entertainment. But since you’re in the heart of the Theater District you can skip the movie marathon and opt for a Broadway show instead. Book a spin with Broadway Roulette and you don’t have to deal with the stress of choosing which show to see while getting a guaranteed good deal. What’s more relaxing than that?
It’s hard to find a laid-back activity in the city that never sleeps, but you’ll find exactly that at the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of the New York Public Library right off Bryant Park. This historic institution’s echoing halls, rooms and rooms of famous books and documents, and stunning architecture offer a welcome respite from the craze of Times Square.
Start your staycation with a parking reservation here.